Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Our Vestry Covenant: “Bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

You may recall from a post a few days ago that our Vestry discussed at length at its winter retreat what it would mean to make prayer our first priority as a board of directors. What would that look like? How would our business be shaped by that?

Our retreat was built around our reflection on the Letter to the Ephesians 4:1-16 wherein Paul talks of "equipping the saints" through love and discerning Christ's guidance for our faith community. Part of our discussion included looking at a model covenant for how we conduct ourselves as a Vestry. How do we communicate with each other? How do we do we listen to rach other and hear the Holy Spirit guide us?

Since the retreat, we've been working on a Vestry covenant for our Vestry this year, and we adopted it at last night's meeting. Here it is, and I invite your comment:
St. Paul's Memorial Church Vestry Covenant 2011
Recognizing that the Holy Scripture as interpreted through reason and tradition will be our authority governing our behavior and relationships with one another and with the congregation, we acknowledge the directive in Ephesians (4:1-6) to “lead a life worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

We will bear with one another in love by:

1. Creating and nurturing within the Vestry a safe and trusting atmosphere in which all members can feel safe and confident in expressing their thoughts and opinions,
2. Seeking to validate, appreciate, acknowledge and understand the unique gifts of each Vestry member,
3. Listening with compassion to all; discouraging gossip; redirecting misdirected messages appropriately (in the interest of encouraging direct communication with the person most reasonably able to hear and act),
4. Respecting confidentiality for sensitive matters,
5. Following St. Matthew’s principle (Mt. 18:15-17) for conflict resolution: speaking first with the individual alone; if to no avail, speaking again with the individual together with another Vestry member and then, if necessary, referring the matter to the entire Vestry.
6. Practicing forgiveness,
7. Supporting other Vestry members through times of difficulty,
8. Nurturing a servant attitude in the Vestry.

We will maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace by:

1. Joining with the Vestry in submitting matters to prayer,
2. Upholding the final decision of the Vestry,
3. Refraining from gossip and personal attacks,
4. Consciously seeking to abandon self-serving agendas and attitudes.

We will lead a life worthy of the calling by:

1. Faithfully attending Sabbath worship,
2. Engaging in study of the Scriptures,
3. Committing to Christian living through regular sacrificial giving and participation in the St. Paul’s pledge program,
4. Being faithful to the St. Paul’s mission statement.

Painting: "Epiphany Times Three" by Kathrin Burleson.

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