Cultivating the Ground Before Breaking Ground

January 6, 2020 | by: Wes Gristy | 0 comments

Posted in: Thoughts and Reflections

For our fifteenth year as a church, 2019 was a big one! Much of our energy this year was given toward our Mission Abbey vision. As we dream about the church God would have us become, especially lived out on the 10 acres at 212 McClellan Road, we continue to be guided by our desire to be a people who share in the life of God for the life of the world. Developing a “Mission Abbey” is an outgrowth of that desire.

As we’ve said many times, the word “Abbey” speaks to a community devoted to the contemplative tradition, spiritual formation, immersion in Scripture, and rhythms of rest, worship, and prayer—“sharing in the life of God.” The word “Mission” speaks to a community devoted to action, equipping one another for ministry, and working together to make an impact on the world around us— “for the life of the world.”

The year began in January with the presentation of our master site plan for our 10-acre campus to become this Mission Abbey. Also in that month, our Church Planting Catalyst Team held a forum to share how our future church planting efforts are an integral part of our vision.

This led us to take the season of Lent as an opportunity for communal prayer and discernment. Over 100 adults participated in a Lenten Pastorate where together we reflected upon how God has been working in the story of All Saints—both past and present. Then we turned our attention to the future and imagined what kind of roles we might inhabit as we develop our Mission Abbey, how we might be faithful stewards of this property, what ministries we would serve in, and what financial commitments we would make as these dreams become a reality.

By the fall of 2019, we were ready to make specific plans around the dreams that were stirred up during our Season of Discernment. To do so, we invited the church to participate in our Mission Abbey Pastorates, small groups designed to water the seeds that had already been planted in the hearts of our people. Many of you studied, strategized, and looked for practical ways to stir up what God is doing among us. This process truly reminded us that we are not building a Mission Abbey so that we can become something we have not already been, but that we might grow into more of what God has already created us to be.

As our people met, planned, and prayed together, lots of ideas and proposals bubbled up to the surface in areas like healing ministry, the life of the mind, rhythms of prayer, and church planting, just to name a few. These proposals are currently being tweaked, and we are excited to announce that at this year’s Annual Parish Meeting, representatives from each Mission Abbey Pastorate will share them with the parish. Together we can consider how these proposals might be integrated into the life of All Saints in the months and years to come.

It’s not uncommon for someone to ask, “When are we going to break ground on the new building?” Lord willing, we hope to do so sometime this Spring. But as 2020 begins, our more immediate concern is to cultivate the ground before we break ground, remembering that our ultimate aim is to build God’s kingdom, and that all of this cultivating will nourish the ground from which our ministry and work together will grow.

Let us be a Mission Abbey before we build one. Let us continue to be the church before we build a new church building. I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for us!

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