21st Century Congregations
"Keeping Watch Together"
May 2016 - The Rev. Jennifer Gregg

Standing at the kitchen sink peeling potatoes, Connie wondered aloud, “I wonder where God will lead you to next?”

“I have no idea,” I replied. 

I had so many questions, so much energy around them.  Where was I going to direct it?  What form was it going to take?  These were the questions that left me musing at night as I tried to fall asleep. 

“Pay attention. Try some new things. Something will unfold.”

At the time Connie said this, I was at a transitional point in my life.  I had just finished leading a retreat weekend for young people.  I was eager to know what was next, but nothing seemed to be unfolding.  I felt stuck. 

It wasn’t the first time I would feel this way, but I was finding my way forward through our regular conversations at Connie’s home.  Connie and I hadn’t planned to be spiritual companions.  Rather, we stumbled upon each other through diocesan work.  Once or twice a month we would meet and talk about where we were feeling led or challenged by God. 

There around that small kitchen table, we became “detectives of divinity,” as we looked for the ways God was taking our lives and breaking them open.  There at that table we kept watch for the subtle movements of God.  And over the years, we have also challenged and pushed each other to grow into the full stature of Christ, stepping out beyond ourselves for the sake and mission of the gospel.    

I don’t know any of us who aren’t hungry for those kinds of relationships, lay or clergy.  It is being seen by another that we begin to see ourselves more fully in the light and love of God and we can begin to claim our own “I AM-ness.” 

For far too long, we have been hidden in plain sight from one another inside and outside of our church buildings.  Tucked away within the people that sit next to us every Sunday, are stories that long to be told, stories that have the capacity to inspire, to heal, to transform, and to point us to God who is always with us.   

The church is currently being called further and further outside itself: to meet the unrecognizable Jesus, as we make our way to Emmaus.  To see Jesus, we need people who are willing to be “detectives of divinity”, leaders who are willing to listen and look for the clues, follow new leads, speak up and ask difficult questions, as we find different ways to piece together the unfolding mystery of God, not just for the well-being of the church, but for the transformation of our own lives.  To do this, we need to learn how to companion each other in intentional, transformative ways.    

This fall, as part of a move to help form and grow leaders across the diocese, identified individuals will be invited to join a pilot program in each corridor on spiritual companioning.  It will not be just another program.  It will be learning in action, as we reimagine what it means to actively be “godparents” to each other.  With the help of local clergy, it is my hope that the seasoned leaders will be partnered with potential leaders.  Gathering times will likely be once a month in each region.  The time in between our gatherings leaders will begin to companion.  Regular check-ins will happen online coupled with other available resources and reflections.  Dates, times and more concrete details will be announced at the beginning of June.

The Rev. Jennifer Gregg
Missioner for Servant Leadership 
The Episcopal DIocese of Western Massachusetts
37 Chestnut Street
Springfield, MA 01103
(413) 737 - 4786