On August 20, Pastor Danielle did something new with our staff -- she got us all into the same room, for an entire day.
She brought in Advent member, Chandra Travis, who leads workshops with various groups and organizations, to lead the day-long retreat at Union Theological Seminary up the street in Morningside Heights.
The goal of the retreat seemed simple: getting on the page. We each shared our own perspective on what it is we do, and how it fits into Advent's mission and ministry. We also shared a bit more of ourselves beyond our staff roles: books that have inspired us, experiences that have shaped us, and unexpected jokes.
Then we turned to meta-questions like "What is a program vs. what is a ministry?" and "What does Advent do in the world?" We realized we each carried a unique perspective on these topics, rooted in everything from our own experiences at Advent to the various skills we specialize in (i.e. music, finance, web design . . .), from our communities beyond Advent now, to our experiences growing up.
We filled up papers. We covered two wall-length blackboards. We poured out all our different ideas and then dug in looking for common ground. At the end, we were filled with a sense of understanding, knowing where each person is coming from, and of connectedness. By opening topics up and sharing our different perspectives, we actually became more unified and bonded as a team.
We are the body of Christ. So God tells us that our differences allow us to work together as one. So it is with our church. As a church, let's continue to celebrate and understand our diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and faithfully move forward as one church.