The state of mainline denominations is in decline. Even our tradition, the Episcopal Church, has seen its fair share of membership losses over the last twenty years. I am constantly bombarded by flyers and emails that tell me the five or seven things that I need to do right now to attract certain groups of people into my church. I admit that I read those from time to time, but I think at St. Peter's we are trying something different.
I believe that before people can get their spiritual lives in order, they often feel they must get their other insecurities dealt with. Whether it is job insecurity, food insecurity, housing insecurity, those are often the things I hear most pressing on people's minds. At St. Peter's, we cannot pretend that by simply attending church here all of those things will be solved or that we can solve them on our own. However, we do have connections to others in our community that we can partner with and work with together to help our sister or brother in their journey.
I often talk about how we can address different dimensions of wellness. I can talk your ear off on that, but that is another topic for another day. Obviously, as a church, we can (hopefully) address the spiritual dimension of wellness, when church is inclusive, inviting, and working together to build up rather than separate people. With our community gardens, we are hoping to address the physical dimension of wellness by providing healthy, locally grown food and honey to those in need. Our Master Plan for our property further expands on this through volleyball/badminton courts and a walking trail. Our Family Night and Community Events fill the social dimension of wellness. Recently, I was approached on how we could address another dimension of wellness - emotional.
Starting August 1st, St. Peter's will be a place that will host a weekly Emotions Anonymous meeting on Wednesday nights at 6pm. The purpose of the group, according to its website, is to be a fellowship of men and women who come together to work through the emotional difficulties we all face in our lives. The program is modeled after the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions that are commonly associated with AA.
I have to say that I am excited about St. Peter's being a place where this type of community will be formed. It is a lay led initiative and I want to see this group succeed. The leaders and I have met several times and talked about a launch strategy to ensure success. There are all times in our life where we may feel overwhelmed, lost, and unable to deal with a life event that has happened. Perhaps we have been hurt by the Church and told that we are less than and undeserving of inclusion or leadership because of our gender, nation of origin, political affiliation, or sexual orientation. This group will help provide a safe space to process those feelings out so that they no longer hold power over us. Through listening to others, their concerns, their setbacks and successes individuals can become stronger in the emotional dimension of wellness. Emotions Anonymous however is not a therapy group that endorses or opposes any medications and does not give medical advice or counsel.
It is just another way that we at St. Peter's are trying to connect to our neighbor, to walk with them, and share the same frustrations we all face. We are working to address the many dimensions of wellness and the Emotions Anonymous group is another way that I believe we are living out our mission. We are showing an alternative view of being the church - one that is welcoming, accepting, and caring to all people and a church that truly means it when we say "We See God In You."