Life Stages of the Forest, Life Stages of the Church
On Nov. 2, Dr. Susan MacKenzie of Colby College (far right in photo above) led members of our church during an all-day retreat, guiding us through observations we made and lessons we learned during a walk through the woods behind the church and applying them to how the church could best adapt while managing its future. The theme of the retreat: “Life Stages of the Forest, Life Stages of the church”.
Twenty-four members of the church and friends participated in the retreat which included introductions and worship in the church, a 90-minute walk through Robinson Woods, and finally a brain-storming session back in the church. It was an interactive time throughout the day with Dr. MacKenzie offering comments about healthy ecosystems and how the church could follow similar paths, while church members responded with reactions and ideas of their own.
For example, Dr. MacKenzie talked about that within an ecosystem, all biological, chemical, and physical matter are interconnected and interdependent. Likewise, she said, churches thrive when they help parishioners seek wholeness in mind, body and spirit. She said nature thrives on diversity; it perishes in uniformity. And paralleling her thought to the retreat participants, she pointed out that churches also thrive on change: growth and evolution of mission leads to new realities.
And perhaps most importantly, Dr. MacKenzie concluded that a healthy ecosystem, by definition, is a community. Each part is vital, collaboration is essential, and much of the work occurs behind the scenes. So it is with a healthy church, she said: It thrives when it is part of a network.
Much of what was discussed, and learned, during the retreat will be re-examined by the church’s new Ecological Dream Team over the next few months with conclusions and action steps later being presented to the whole congregation.
Thank you to Dr. MacKenzie for an education and insightful morning and afternoon.