Leadership for the Whole Church

Leardership for the Whole Church: Part 4 in the Series reflecting on Slow Church

Part 1:

Stanley Hauerwas and Slow Church

Part 2:

Practicing Presence

Part 3:

Formation in the Church

This is Part 4 of our series looking at the concept of Slow Church and what we can learn from the ideas of Stanley Hauerwas.  The links above will direct you to the first three posts in the series. This video is longer than the previous three. However, it’s worth watching the whole video.

Part 4 breaks away somewhat from the first 3 in that the post is more focused on leadership and leaders rather than on the whole body. Yet this video links well with the other three, precisely where Hauerwas talks about leadership as something that is best raised up through the community. Such leadership is in contrast to the leadership model touted by the book store best sellers.

The video starts off with Hauerwas stating that creative authority is all about persuasion.  While he talks about it in the context of being a leader in a community such as a church or university, one question it raises, is how do churches express creative authority in the communities in which they are situated?

For many years, the church spoke from a position of assumed authority. Within a Christendom model this was considered acceptable and even expected. As that model has disintegrated, can the church learn to speak authoritatively again.

Many people would question whether the church should ever speak authoritatively, but I think if the  church adopts the attitude in the broader community of helping the community to develop their gifts, the church will have something to offer to the whole community.

Hauerwas asks an interesting question: What kind of community do you need to be to choose your leaders by lot? The choosing of Matthias he is referring to can be found in Acts 1:12-26. How does such a question challenge our assumptions of what leadership and decision making in the Church should look like?

Hauerwas also talks about developing a discipline of the ego that will allow any institution that you are part of to continue once you have departed. I think this also fits in with the idea of being able to speak authoritatively in the broader community. Just as individual leaders need to learn the discipline of letting go of their egos, so do churches need to learn the same discipline.

One thing that comes out of this style of leadership, is that it rejects persuasion as a sales pitch. Persuasion under the model talked about in this video, and suggested by the previous videos is an activity that comes with long-term sharing of life and exchanging of ideas.

There is more in the video to consider regarding leadership. In particular the question of how do leaders hold on to power as a fragile thing? If you have any thoughts on any of this, please feel free to share them on the St. Philip’s Facebook page.

Practicing Presence

Our second video from Stanley Hauerwas, connecting us to the theme  of Slow Church, is called “Practicing Presence.”  In this video we are challenged to learn what it means to allow ourselves to be friends with time. Hauerwas talks about our constant urge to do something for people who are suffering. This, according to him, allows us to show our caring without being present. Practicing presence means that we have to be able to let go of our desire to solve everyone’s problems. Instead we have to be able to sit with people who are suffering, knowing that we cannot relieve their suffering. As our society’s medical techniques have become more advanced, we have tended to practice presence less.

The video featured here was made to support the Memory Bridge. Memory Bridge is an organization and movement designed to help people with Alzheimer’s connect and remain connected to their various communities. In addition those involved in Memory Bridge learn much from people living with Alzheimer’s.

Questions about Practicing Presence

What does it mean to become a “Friend with Time?” Do the ways in which we organize our life as a church community help or hinder us from practicing presence for each other? How might the church, and specifically St. Philip’s find new ways of practicing presence in the broader community in which we are placed? What areas do you think we need to find ways to practice presence?

As with the first video, you can add your voices to the conversation by visiting the St. Philip’s Facebook page.

About St. Philip’s

The history of the Church of St. Philip’s begins at the turn of the 20th century.  At that time, there was no bridge over the Red River to the rest of the area now known as the City of Winnipeg.  In the year 1900, Mr & Mrs. W. H. McKinney approached the Venerable Archdeacon Fortin with a view to having services in Norwood. The result was that on May15th, 1900, Sunday School and Services were started in the McKinney home on the corner of Linden Avenue which is now Lyndale Drive and Marion Street. The Rev. E. Burch was assigned to the parish in the role of Curate.About the Nave of St. Philip's

On November 18th, 1900. the “Little Wooden Church” was opened on Eugenie Street by the Venerable Archdeacon Fortin, then Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Winnipeg. Thus began the life of St. Philip’s Church.(parish program from 100th anniversary service).

The current building was erected in 1904 and in 1959 the building was extended with the addition of the Memorial Hall.  Rev J.E. Bethel was the priest.  Over the years St. Philip’s has been faithfully served by many clergy and lay people alike.  Currently Rev. Donald McKenzie is Priest, and Rev. Tanis Kolisnyk is Deacon. Andrew Schmidt and Gloria Belliveau are Rector’s and People’s Warden, respectively.  Along with being Deacon, Rev. Tanis also serves as the Organist and Choir Leader for St. Philip’s.

In addition to serving a small but active church family, St. Philip’s also serves as home to several other groups. These include Sparks, Brownies, Guides, an Orthodox Church community, A Spanish dance troupe, an Alcoholics Anonymous, and an Al-Anon group.