Tuesday, January 26, 2010

CCT Minister Report 2009

Minister Report 2009

In the fall of 2009, I was in a conversation with Paul Debenport, minister of First Presbyterian, Albuquerque.  I mentioned to him that the end of ’09 would mark the end of my third year at WPC.  He enthusiastically said,  “Ah, the end of the third year! I love that place of ministry.”  He went on to say something to the effect of by the end of the third year, you know if you are going to make it with the congregation or not; and if you are going to make it you can experience a lot of freedom and build on the wonderful relationships that have been established.  I know I’m going to make it! And am grateful for the freedoms I’ve experienced and look forward to continuing to deepen the relationships I have with the wonderful people of WPC.

This year brought on new challenges and I again learned very significant lessons.  An invaluable reading of Eugene Peterson’s, Under the Unpredictable Plant, helped to reinterpret my role as Pastor with a re-emphasis of Pastor as Spiritual Leader, not programmatic doer. As a spiritual leader, my top three priorities I tried and am trying to live into are: worship leadership, leadership development, and community involvement.  

Worship leadership: planning for worship, chair of Alabad care, preaching, singing in voice choir, and involving laity and clergy friends in planning and leading worship.  Note: as preacher, because of the relationship with the congregation, I am much less anxious in a preaching role, and while preaching takes a considerable amount of energy and imagination, I value the potential and power of the spoken word to transform a people in their relationship with God and the world. One of my favorite activities is study as I prepare for sermons. One of Trasie’s favorite activities is correcting and sharpening my sermons on Saturday night, right dear?

Leadership Development: session moderator, deacon convener, teaching, pastoral care, and hanging out.  Notes of (possible) interest: I am more comfortable in my role as session moderator and deacon convener.  I experienced a shift from dreading and being anxious about session meetings to looking forward to the fellowship and the possibilities of together leading the people of God.  I attribute this to the work of God done through the elders and deacons, who continue to be open to new ways the Spirit may be guiding our church, as well as their love and acceptance for one another.  Also, I have taken an invaluable workshop on “transforming church boards into communities of spiritual leadership” which focuses on corporate spiritual discernment led by Revs. Val Isenhower and Judith Todd.  My dreams for the upcoming year regarding session are that the session and deacons would continue to be transformed into communities of spiritual leaders, as the session continues to discover what it means to "run the church," and not function with a pastor as CEO mentality; and the deacons be empowered to lead the community in hospitality, care, and prayer.   Teacher:  Other than preaching and weekly bible study, I taught just three series of classes this year. One new members class, a theological study using The Shack as a guide, and a Practical ministry/ Biblical Study using Jesus for President as guide.  Pastoral Care: An invaluable activity for me and hopefully for those who invite me into this role.  It consisted of home, hospital, nursing home, and meal visits.  There has been a shift this year in my approach, as more often than before, I have waited to be invited into this role, rather than initiate these visits.  I try to make myself available for anyone who may have a need, concern, or just want to hang out. I have also provided marriage counseling, baptismal counseling, and grief counseling.  I value spending time with people, both planned and spontaneous. Community Involvement: Homeless shelter door checker; U-5 soccer coach; Interfaith Leadership Alliance, director; Ghost Ranch, director; Presbytery Committee on Congregational Christian Witness, Chair; Mayoral Advisory on Immigration Committee, member; Youth Week at Ghost Ranch, Chaplin. 

Among the many things that marked 2009 were:
-                    an interfaith trip to Morocco, led by Santa Fe Imam Aziz Edehbarr and his wife Toni.
-                    The internship of Claudia Aguilar, which challenged my understanding of pastoral leadership and supervisor.  
-                    The departure of Cris Trujillo-Neal, our faithful office worker in June; and the gracious efforts of Lib O’brien and Sue Horning to fill the gap.
-                    The departure of Sander, Cristel, Jaleesa, and Kirthe van Doorn, as well as Rose Cavalcante.
-                    The deaths of Alice Martinez and Carey Clark.
-                    The departure of Jim Muirhead as choir director and the addition of Rev. Richard Avery in this role.
-                    New members and friends participating in the life and ministry of WPC

Of course the most significant event for Trasie and me this year, was the birth of our first-born daughter, Ruby Eugenia Topple. She continues to transform my understanding of the meaning of life, and helps me to grow spiritually.  She has been an absolute joy.  I am so grateful for the way the community has embraced her and loved her. 

In case you missed it, here are some hopes and dreams for 2010 that I put on “the five- year plan,” that were not mentioned above.

Spiritual aspects of community life together:
- Becoming a "green" church, (i.e. Lenten discipline on "the moral math of climate change", more outdoor worship opportunities, etc)
- Growing into profoundly deep relationships as a community and enjoying one another even more (including small group gatherings).
- Music continuing transforming our relationship with God.
- Continuing weekday Taize services, and possibly a Sunday 8:30 am prayer service.
-  A congregation that lives with radical hospitality. 

Physical aspects of community life together (in no particular order)
- 25 new participants (members and friends) who become involved because we are being a loving community;
- Remodeled nursery--demonstrating our care and nurture for the little children (Mark 10:14)
- Priority list and 2-5 year plan of building improvement projects: sanctuary improvement, floors, baseboards, bike rack, painting, repaint of wooden columns and panels outside, window screens, sliding doors in fellowship hall, portal on the north side, prayer or vegetable garden on east side, kitchen remodel, ‘tween gathering place, gateway entrance from the east side of the sanctuary on Juanita St., landscaping)
- Seasonal "beautification" of sanctuary, and art.
- Organized and clean STAGE (and shed),
- more user friendly sound system (and new operator)
- Better use of chancel area...even a remodeling/ reordering of chancel area?
- The Sign
- Website fully functioning
- Usable B-Ball court!
- Art in the building
- A history of the church on display.
- Find a loaned home for a piano.

You may be led to help lead us living into these dreams and visions; if so, praise God! Let me or someone on session know!
Respectfully, humbly, and lovingly submitted:   Chester Topple

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