- Filled with a sense of God's presence
- Formal liturgy
- Welcoming to newcomers
- Has a sense of expectancy
How would I know? One person's reverent, formal or contemplative liturgy is another person's predictable liturgy, I'd say. I often am obsessed by the things that aren't as organized as I think they should be: typos in our elaborate bulletin which is meant to be user friendly for newcomers, endless announcements by parish leaders who have not submitted announcements for the bulletin in advance or who just don't believe that people read them, acolytes who breathlessly appear, still doing up their cinctures and the snaps on their albs, during the awkward silence after the prelude is over. I don't think that "Will the acolytes and readers make it in time?" is what is meant in the survey by a "sense of expectancy." Actually, many of these questions about liturgical style, demographics, programmatic evangelism and newcomer incorporation, congregational identity would make good questions for a vestry or evangelism committee to discuss, since they invite us to evaluate areas of our life that we don't often stand back and think about. And I have to say that I felt quite proud of this congregation's people and ministries as I went through this process of answering the survey. And my guess would be that most of the rest of the Episcopal church is as hopeful, welcoming and outward looking as we are.
But the most disconcerting section of this survey was the question about conflict. "In the last five years has your congregation experienced any disagreements or conflicts in the following areas?" You are invited to answer NO or YES on a scale of not very serious, moderately serious, very serious. And here are the conflict areas:
- How worship is conducted
- Priest's leadership style
- Program priorities of the congregation
- Use of church facilities
- Actions of General Convention 2003 regarding the Bishop of New Hampshire
The GC 2003 question seems so specific compared to the others that it seems out of proportion. Is this the REAL question the survey is wanting to discover an answer to? I invited vestry members to fill out the questionnaire for me, so I would have some input, especially on the one's where my self-assessment might color my answer. Only one did and she answered pretty much as I would have answered but she very kindly put no answer at all in the line where you are supposed to assess the clergy leadership style and the option was " Effective administrator."