As I head into my 5th week as Rector at St. Simon’s on the Sound, I am finally coming up for air a bit. At least I can now spend a few minutes on my blog.
<== The view from my parking space!
Starting at a new church is always an adventure. It’s like a roller coaster – lots of thrills, exhilarating and terrifying, with the unknown lurking on the other side of each hill, yet there is rarely anything to fear – just more fun, more life, more joy.
This is my 4th time to start at a new church in 4 years. I am conscious of how different it is coming in as Rector vs. Interim Rector, while at the same time using some of the experience I have had as an Interim to “hit the ground running”. At the same time I try my best to be cognizant there IS time, time to lay a foundation, time to grow into the rhythms of a new place.
But in some ways, we need a sense of urgency, don’t we? The church in America is in decline, we all can read the statistics and, if we so desire, wring our hands and wonder what happened to the good ole days, when Christendom ruled the land and everyone was in a church on Sunday mornings (and where I am from, Wednesday nights). The challenge we face as leaders is deciding – will we program our way out of this? Will we preach our way out of this? Or will we pray our way out of this? And if prayer is the answer, and I think it is, will we be open to how God responds to those prayers? What can we let go of? What do we need to cling to? How do we reach a new generation who, more and more often, do not have the church connection many of us did from growing up in the church? And in doing so, how do we honor those who have kept the faith and kept the church alive and vibrant, honoring our traditions while being open to the future?
It will take time. And we are running out of time. No clergy person can do this work alone. Thanks be to God, I find myself in the midst of a community of people who love God, love their church, and really want to see St. Simon’s be all God has called us to be.
The roller coaster, for the most part, will be a blast! I am blessed to be along for the ride. Come along!
(For those of you who know me, you know that my father, Dr. Harold “Jug” Knight, died on July 13th – about 10 days before I was due to start at St. Simon’s. I am in the midst of writing about my dad and our loss of him, but it’s not ready for public viewing just yet. Stay tuned. The writing itself has helped me deal with the loss, the grief, and the relief of my father’s death. And it also has reminded me how blessed I am to be part of my family. I am surrounded by heroes and also a “great cloud of witnesses”. More to come.)