Discernment, Envisioning, and Policy

Our "Discernment Pod"

Sharing Stories

Choreographing Contributions

Scientists observing the northern bald ibises pictured below noticed that the birds choreographed their wing flapping to maximize the group's energy during migration. A similar choreography can be observed at Robertson-Wesley.

At the DEAP Pod Conversation on March 5, 2014 people from the congregation met together to share stories about their experiences at Robertson-Wesley. There were stories of the welcoming nature of ALL people to ALL people; of feeling support and caring on a deep, not superficial level; of learning to think differently about diversity, whether political, economic or personal; of discovering a renewed sense of purpose and spiritual growth; of finding a place to be inspired by art, music and words.

Participants said there is a lot going on at Robertson-Wesley, which is positive. It also creates challenges such as finding a personal place to connect and to stay connected, plus this myriad of activities keep staff and volunteers VERY busy. By choreographing contributions everyone can both conserve energy and keep energized. Some people lead; others support. Some people sing, others clean; some people visit, others are visited; and people need to take turns.

Now it's your turn

Who are we? What do we do?

A group of five people represent the congregation of Robertson-Wesley on the Discernment, Envisioning and Policy (DEAP) Pod. Currently they are Joann Cooke, John Helps, Carol Anne Inglis, Janice Lacapra and Jill Lambie. The group meets monthly, except for December, July and August, with one or both ministers and the chair or vice-chair of the Board.

DEAP is one of the three pods that now form part of the governance model of Robertson-Wesley. Through listening deeply and reflectively, being watchful and sensitive, and communicating meaningfully with one another, the group seeks to support the life, work and spiritedness of this church family. The goal is for the processes of discernment and envisioning to be used by everyone in the congregation to help our church move forward as the people of God doing the work of God in today's world.

During the past year the DEAP group has spent considerable time (1) discerning who we are and what we do, (2) envisioning where we're going, and (3) clarifying guidelines for pod coordinators to use as new projects are initiated and ongoing projects are reviewed. Nonetheless time at every meeting has been devoted to our core purpose of discerning and envisioning more broadly. Some of the stories, celebrations and challenges that have been discussed include

  • Robertson-Wesley can be both a hive of activity and a welcoming space for folks who "just want to worship and meditate".
  • We feel a sense of energy in the congregation even though we are facing some challenges.
  • We believe that seeing challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles is crucial for enabling the church to thrive and grow, e.g., the issue of growing our congregation is being addressed by reaching out and communicating what we do here, and that everyone is welcome to join us in whatever calls them.
  • Change is difficult; both patience and persistence are required as some traditions change or end and new traditions emerge; "taking the risk of stepping outside our comfort zone" is challenging.
  • Celebrating and appreciating people's contributions sustains their spirit - never too many "thank yous" can be expressed.