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In the past week, Christ Church became the first congregation in our Deanery to be visited by the Deanery Assessment team. The assessment process is part of the Diocesan strategic plan we know as "Shaped by a Living Hope". Thanks to MArcia, Maria and Jay for their great leadership.

I have to tell you, I've been through any number of such exercises in my business life, and generally they produced reports that served as great doorstops.

Thankfully, this process will not end up holding any physical door open - but I believe it will open many spiritual doors for us.

What We Are Doing

The team, led by Dr. Jay, are helping us ask important questions about whether our congregation is moving into increased viability and sustainability.

More importantly, the questions we are being asked are helping us see ourselves as being in the flow of God's great work in God's world. I believe they will help us define how we can better image the One we love in the context in which God has placed us.

What We Have Been Doing

Dr. Jay's earlier work with us was invaluable.in leading us through some interesting and insightful exercises that helped us begin to discover who we are, and in preaching that called us "back to the heart" of the church.

We have now been wrestling with such questions for some months. We have been examining our programs and activities and asking, "What is it we are so busy at - exactly?" "What are the elements of our life together that really matter - for the Kingdom of God?" "Are the activities we engage in driven by and reflective of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment of Jesus?" These are vital questions!

This process, kicked off by the able assistance of our Congregational Development officer some months ago has resulted in a core group of some 25 or 30 people who have met together numerous times to seek God's leading. Elaine Hurst, assisted by her able scribe Craig, have led this process with sensitivity and skill.

Now we are being drawn into an even deeper theological and spiritual reflection on why we are doing the things we do - and who and where we are as individuals and a community.

What's next?

Right after Easter we will begin a series of four one night book discussions based on chapters from the books "Christianity for the Rest of Us" and "Practicing Our Faith". We will be looking at the practices of Discernment (learning to listen for God's voice), Healing and Worship/Testimony (testimony being very different than "street corner witnessing" - you'll be delightfully surprised by the authors' take on this!). You can get one or the other of these books, on loan, from the church office.

You do not need to read the whole book before the discussion, but reading the appropriate chapter for each night will be a help.The discussions will be held on Wednesday nights from 5 ( or shortly after for those who work!) until 6:30 with snacks provided to stave off any hunger pains. We begin on April 11. Don't miss this important time in our life together!!!

As we continue to meet, we want to remind you that EVERYONE - and we do mean EVERYONE! is not just welcome to come along, but urged to do so.  We need to hear the voices of both longterm and newer folks in our family!

Our friend, Jesse Zink has just published his book "Grace at the Garbage Dump". Those of you who read his blog know how gifted a writer and thinker he is - and those of you who have heard him speak so passionately about his work in Itipini, South Africa, know his ability to bring to life a reality of which most of us are only dimly aware.

I am eagerly awaiting my copy of the book - you can order yours directly from the publisher by going here https://wipfandstock.com/store/Grace_at_the_Garbage_Dump_Making_Sense_of_Mission_in_the_TwentyFirst_Century

Well done, Jesse

Don't for get our annual Vestry (General) Meeting on Sunday, January 29,2012.
The usual service times apply, with a lovely Sung Morning Prayer (BCP) at 8:30 and a more contemporary service with Communion (BAS) and Sunday School at 10 am.

These services will be followed by a shared lunch about 11:30. The Vestry Meeting will take place right after lunch.

For those who wonder what kind of animal a "Vestry Meeting" is, it is a sort of yearly family gathering where we decide who will take various responsibilities for the next year, report back on the past year and generally "catch up" and look forward.

We will share some news about our finances and building (it's all good!), elect members to Advisory Board and announce direct appointments. It may sound a little dry put that way, but the reality is anything but - we laugh a great deal and visit and discuss. Your voice is very important in these discussions, whether you have been a member at Christ Church for 50 years or a very short time.

Everyone who has any interest at all is warmly invited to come and listen and speak - even if just now you are exploring the idea of joining us as a regular member. Those who consider Christ Church their home church, contribute to the life of the church with time, treasure or talent and are "Regular Attenders" are eligible to vote or to take office.

The only restrictions which apply have to do with a few ministries that are deemed "High Risk" ( like teaching Sunday School, visiting people in their homes and handling money). For these ministries it is our practice to ask folks to attend regularly for about a year and undergo the Diocesan Screening Process (which includes a police check). In reality, High Risk Ministries are pretty limited in number. There are many, many opportunities to serve whenever you feel called to do so. Just speak to Rev. Marie or one of the Wardens and we'll find a place for you to serve very quickly!

We truly believe that every baptised Christian is called by God to serve - and we want to help folks find the place they are called to do that.

See you in Church!

Rev Marie