Thursday, August 17, 2006

Pictorial Directories and Fellowship

I've learned an interesting thing here lately and that is when it's time for your church to do a pictorial directory, all kinds of neat stuff happens, especially when you get more than 3/4's of your parishioners to actually show up for the picture taking. Yes it takes fortitude on the part of the organizer or organizers but it pays off in more ways than the end product.

Recently my parish embarked on this most monumental task. Our rector reminded us so very graciously and with gentle firmness that it was not optional to get your picture taken or be in the directory...It was affably mandatory. And--it worked. Sure the vestry had to move their meeting the first night of "snaps" otherwise we could not have had so much fun filling out little forms for the photographer and his assistance, calling folks who were late [everyone got a 10 minute grace period to show or be called], checking off those who had verified their vital statistics, nailing the ones who had not completed their census forms or parish surveys requested by the Strategic Planning Committee. We got three birds with one stone, that's one more bird than average!

But what was more significant was the interaction of parishioners who had not met one another, either at all or not for a very long time. I know I met some folks that I had never met, some I had seen but didn't know who they were, and some I had spoken to and knew but had never learned their names. I know, it's pathetic but there it is. And as we waited for out appointed time, it was sort of sweet to see some folks fussing over each other so not a hair would be out of place or a tie crooked, or a lapel folded under.

Some parishioners literally flew threw the doors having forgotten their appointment while working in the yard or in the house at a chore. A few guys were dressed to the nines from the waist up while sporting holey jeans or dirty sneakers; or the occasional gal with a leaf still in her hair or blackberry stain on their hand. But you know, we could laugh and smile and gently chide one another, young, old and in between and simply enjoy the fellowship of waiting and wondering "how did I turn out?"

It was also a good time to catch up with folks we had not seen or spoken to in a good while. And it was a fine time for those who had been on hiatus to return to the flock. I heard lots about gardens, pets, visiting relatives, a new house that had been bought, a trip to Europe or some wonderful project someone had started with the help of a neighbor. Good stuff from good people.
I also noticed that as some waited for their turn, they were perusing signup sheets for various activities or work crews, be it the Meals on Wheels program needing drivers or the rummage presale event. Always something to contribute to...All the while waiting to contribute an image for posterity and the answer to the oft heard remark: "I wondered who that was!" or "So that's who that is !"

Working with the photography crew was fun too, and we thank them for their good-naturedness and the tireless hours they spent over the four days they were with us. They were thankful for the coffee and any other goodies we could scare up. We enjoyed their company as well as they enjoyed ours.

True, some folks were gone on vacation or had other commitments that took them away from the Valley that part of the week earlier this month, but they made provision for a picture to be included all the same.

We have had so many new members lately -- fifteen in the last batch --that a pictorial directory is a must, especially for our rector, who has a true need to know who is who at a glance, not to mention the rest of us, who are always trying to put names to faces given the amazing growth our parish has experienced since the return of Rev. Anne to the Rogue Valley in 2000 as our rector.

Well, the deed is done for about another 4 years. We will see the result in October I think. But isn't great when we reap the benefits of one task that multiplies into a bunch of opportunities? Pictorial directories: love 'em when they are organized and done right, or just dislike them profoundly and avoid them altogether. Thankfully that is not the Trinity way.

So if your church is considering doing one, it will be ok. Just be organized, calm and optimistic.



Dan Morehead said...

Yes, yes, it's often the little things which upset our daily rhythms and bring us into community.

Anonymous said...

i agree with dan, if only we could see the importance of everyday ways to connect to others in church and out of it...