Because values are enduring core principles that determine what an organization stands for, they are foundational when that organization undergoes leadership transition. As Trinity seeks a new rector with new energy and ideas, we will rely on those values that have defined who we are and what we believe. Trinity’s values are reflected in how we set our priorities, where we devote our time, and how we allocate resources. Especially during the past two decades, we have organized our life together around our values, through our six Parish Councils.
In August, parishioners gathered together one Saturday to celebrate a Parish History Day. It was a remarkable shared time of reflection and remembering. Our leader began the day by suggesting that, while the history and the remembered anecdotes and the growth were all important, the exercise would be most rewarding if we focused on this: What is life-giving?
|Inclusion and diversity
||At Trinity, inclusion and diversity take many forms. Part of our mission statement reflects that value:“Demonstrating God’s love for the world, we serve a diverse population and accept one another without reservation.” Our liturgies reflect a commitment to inclusive language. People from all faith traditions or none are welcome in our midst. We seek out parish leaders from all walks of life, including our LGBTQ members, children and youth, seniors, and others. We actively foster opportunities for alternative voices to be heard. We try to practice radical hospitality both within the congregation and in relationship with our larger Santa Barbara community. We acknowledge we are all created in God’s image and participate with people of different faiths to understand the world in which we live. We have many groups within Trinity, and none is exclusive.
|Justice in Action
||Our commitment to justice is deliberate and planned. We educate our members about a range of justice issues: through our Justice and Outreach Council, through sermons, adult formation, small groups, and interaction with the community. We donate a percentage of our annual budget to local nonprofit organizations. Our clergy are active in addressing the needs of the disenfranchised and provide a prophetic voice for justice in our community. Our parishioners are encouraged to walk the talk and are supported by staff to make a difference in the lives of others by demonstrating our concerns through action.
||In addition to the parish’s outreach to our community, lay leadership or shared ministry is integral to our DNA. We dedicate a staff position to Shared Ministry; most of our activities are lay-led. Our recent parish survey indicated that 75% of the parish is involved in shared ministry.
||We maintain a strong commitment to progressive Christianity while respecting our traditions and history. We experiment with alternative liturgies, forms of prayer, music, and adult formation offerings that educate and challenge convention. We offer different types of worship services throughout each week. We are challenged to move beyond complacency and to grow spiritually. We utilize scholarship and science to inform our sermons, lay ministry efforts, and interfaith work.
||Our openness to trying new things is reflected in our liturgies, music, adult formation offerings, stewardship program, and Shared Ministry councils. We routinely rotate lay leadership, bringing in new perspectives and energy. We focus as much on process as we do outcomes. We allot adequate time to reflect on major decisions, invite feedback as ideas are forming, and use feedback to shape the ultimate outcome. We evaluate our programming and make conscious choices about what to do differently. In an effort to try new things or new ways of doing things, mistakes are not just tolerated, but seen as learning experiences.
Perhaps it is because people are accepted for who they are at Trinity, there is a group consciousness around striving towards our ideals without necessarily achieving perfection. This is true for our values. While clergy and parishioners alike see opportunities to better live out our values, there is a strong emphasis on living into them when planning programs, events, and worship services, making programming decisions, hiring staff, developing our budget, nurturing lay leadership, and now in the search process for our new rector.
These values are our answer to the question, “What is life-giving?” and we are eager to share with our new rector the continuing journey of honing and deepening them.