Church takes journey of transformation

A map pointer with the image of a church
 on January 1, 2015

St. Margaret of Scotland, Barrie, has been involved in the diocese’s T.R.E.C. program (Transforming, Reflecting on, Engaging by, Carry on). This program helps parishes learn to listen for missional opportunities in their neighbourhoods and respond with experiments that seek to re-engage with the community in partnership with God. 

St. Margaret’s was first introduced to missional transformation in January 2010, when our then new incumbent, the Rev. Stephen Pessah and his wife, the Rev. Beth Pessah, offered to lead a six-week course on missionshaped churches. Two years later, St. Margaret’s was invited to take part in the diocese’s T.R.E.C. program, and our journey began.

Our original Missional Guiding Team numbered fewer than 10 people back then, but today our Missional Action Team is made up of about 40 parishioners. As part of our missional experiments, St. Margaret’s engaged in the Adopt- A-Park program in Barrie. We committed to cleaning Hanmer Park, located just down the street from the church. Surrounded by both an established subdivision and a new one, it appeared to be common ground for people in the area. Consequently, it was a perfect place to meet our neighbours. We decided to hold a scavenger hunt in the park, as a way to practice our hospitality in the neighbourhood, develop established relationships and start new ones.

By late September, the neighbourhood was well informed of the scavenger hunt, as we put up more than 40 posters, handed out over 500 flyers door-to-door and held a promotional blitz in the church parking lot, which serves as the kiss-and-ride for the school next door. About 50 volunteers from the church were involved in activities leading up to and including the scavenger hunt. Some were in the park while others were at the church serving refreshments afterwards.

Everyone in the church was invited to get involved, as either a volunteer or a participant in the scavenger hunt. Talented members of the congregation designed costumes for the turkey and the scarecrow, real-life characters who became celebrities for the day. Others prepared the cornucopias, which were handed out to each participant to put the scavenger hunt items in, and still others tied small haystacks, shined apples and gathered acorns and maple keys, all in preparation for the day. Donations of soup and chili filled numerous crock pots at the church, and tables and chairs were set out in anticipation of a hungry crowd. The event was funded by generous donations from church members as well as our Our Faith-Our Hope fund.

The volunteers assembled at the church as early as 9:30 a.m. and began the day in the same way as had begun previous planning meetings – by reading our “missional scripture” (Luke 10: 1- 12) and praying. This day was different, however, as we knew God would show us the fruits of our labours and, more specifically, what God was up to in our neighbourhood.

The set-up in the park began at 10:30 a.m. and all was ready by 11:30 a.m. The scavenger hunt was scheduled to start at noon. We all stood around chatting and wondering if anyone would come. The weather was a mixed bag of rain showers and sunshine. People slowly started trickling into the park, and by 12:30 p.m. there were more than 75 people. The sun continued to shine and the volunteers and participants interacted in a friendly and natural way, without apprehension. After the scavenger hunt, almost all returned to the church, where more than 125 bowls of soup and chili were served. It was more than we could have imagined, and we are excited to continue on this journey, knowing that the Holy Spirit is leading us.

Submitted by Susan Cronje, the Missional Coordinator at St. Margaret of Scotland, Barre.


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