Add a ‘Heartbeat’ to your annual vestry meeting

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Photo: Blurryme/Shutterstock

While the thought of the parish annual meeting, or vestry as it is known in some dioceses, does not thrill everyone’s heart, I confess to being one of those people for whom it actually did! Even though the compiling of the annual report was a lot of work, I always felt it was worth the effort.

I actually liked the annual general meeting. I enjoyed it even more when it was shaped so that the first half was devoted to looking back over the year that had passed and the other to looking ahead to the year before us. It was an opportunity to consider afresh what it means to be the church, and to be mindful of the needs and hopes of the community we serve. It was a time to be imaginative, brave and bold in our call and work as followers of Jesus.

This year, every parish has a great opportunity for such a conversation. It is known as “The Heartbeat of the Church.” Recalling Jesus teaching at the Last Supper, we are invited to consider times when our church’s witness to the gospel, local and national, makes our hearts glad; when its witness falls short and makes our hearts and those of others ache; when its witness makes our hearts feel hopeful. How might our reflections judge and reform our habits, refresh and renew our ministries? How might they impact the vision to which we aspire? How might they inform a heartfelt prayer for our church?

I think this would be a wonderful conversation for annual general meetings this year. If time really prevents you from acting on this opportunity, perhaps you could have your AGM set a date for a special gathering of the parish family for this purpose—perhaps over breakfast, or lunch, or a potluck supper. Food always helps in bringing people together!

From the testimony of many who have already engaged in this “Heartbeat” conversation, I am convinced that, like them, you will feel it was worth the effort!

I encourage you one and all to take up the invitation.

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Fred Hiltz
Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

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