Many of us know each other well, but some of us don’t know each other too well, or let’s face it, at all. We may see each other at mass and other church functions, but often do not know each other’s names or much else about one another. Often parishioners who always attend the Saturday 4:30 PM mass do not know parishioners who always attend one of the Sunday morning masses! Sometimes parishioners who attend the same mass don’t get the opportunity to meet or interact with a parishioner who sits in a different part of the Church. One of my goals as Pastor here at Transfiguration is to promote a sense of community. The Pastoral Council also adopted the same goal in the Pastoral Plan for this year. Goal 1 is “to strengthen and deepen our spirit of hospitality” and goal 3 is “to deepen our sense of community.” It starts with getting to know one another. One strategy that was suggested to help us move toward those goals was to profile parishioners in the bulletin.
I have been trying to think of ways to implement this strategy. In some ways, it is full of challenges! How to pick which parishioners to be profiled? How to profile so many parishioners? (It would take a very long time to get through all of us!) What to ask? How to even make this happen? But we’re up to the challenge!
I have been thinking of a few ways this could be done. 1) I (or someone) could just start alphabetically through our directory and do a phone interview. 2) A brief paragraph could be written up about the person or family (hopefully along with a picture) and inserted in the bulletin on a periodic basis. I am thinking of a rather brief write up, so that about 3 profiles could be on a page. 3) Individuals or families could submit their own paragraph about themselves. Eventually I would hope some parishioner(s) might be willing to take on this project. It would be a good way to get to know other parishioners.
I would hope this would be non-threatening! We could develop a little template pretty easily. I think it would be interesting to know things like how long a person has been a member of the parish; what activities he/she/they are involved in; which mass they usually attend; perhaps a bit about family and work. Maybe a memorable church experience or a hope for the parish could be shared.
So what do you think? I need your help with this one. Can you give me some feedback? It would be a little bit of work, but the benefit to the parish could be significant. I can imagine parishioners who do not yet know each other coming up to someone who has been profiled, saying “I read about you…” And the conversation and sense of connection and community would deepen! That’s what I hope would happen and what a blessing that would be.