Two days before Christmas, my spouse received the news that he has been selected to be the new executive director of camp & retreat ministry for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference — meaning that very soon we will be leaving the retreat center where we’ve lived and worked for the last eight years, we’ll somehow find, purchase, and move into a new home, Todd will start a new job, and I’ll be in need of a new appointment. Change: eek!!!!
Even when the changes are exciting and full of promise, it is difficult to leave behind the familiar, comfortable patterns. Change brings stress simply because it’s change. We worship artists are well aware of the challenge of change within a worship context. Whether it’s changing the color of the sanctuary carpet, starting a new worship service, switching to a different sound system, or simply introducing a new hymn, worship changes can easily backfire unless they are handled with sensitivity, education, and pastoral care. Because, you know, change…
The Fellowship is in the midst of a change. By the time you read this, you may have already completed your ballot, indicating whether you choose to support a new way of structuring the administrative and leadership elements of this organization. I hope you are choosing “yes”! This is a leap of faith. We do not know for sure whether this new system will serve us well. We may not be sure we’re ready to let go of the old familiar structure and terminology. But we do know that the church and the culture are both changing, and we need to adapt if The Fellowship is to remain healthy. So we’re preparing to change: to say goodbye to the old constitution that has been our governing document for many years, and to embrace a new set of bylaws with a new way of configuring our leadership.
For me, sharing stories is one of the ways I cope with the stress of change. Keeping memories alive reassures me that the past — relationships, experiences, learnings — travels with me into whatever new adventure awaits, because I have been shaped by what I’ve encountered along the way. I invite you to share your stories with me about memories of The Fellowship through the years. I also hope that you will be interested in sharing your gifts through the new opportunities for leadership that will come, if the membership approves this change. (Contact me at FellowshipLaura@gmail.com.)
I remember moving to a new community when our first daughter was two. After all the boxes and furniture were in the truck, we went from room to room saying good-bye, sharing memories, and affirming that we would still be together in our new home. It was an important ritual for our toddler – and also for her parents! That’s what we do as worship artists each week. As our world changes around us, we create and lead rituals that allow the community to share stories and affirm that God’s love never changes.
-- BeTheFellowship, Laura Jaquith Bartlett
(NOTE: This article first appeared in the March-April 2017 issue of WorshipArts.)