As part of the final session of our Clergy Conference this year, Conference leader Bishop Melissa Skelton invited us to engage in an exercise she calls, “Practice Writing about Identity.”

The basic instruction was to put pen to paper; don’t think; just write whatever comes; don’t edit, evaluate or judge. Keep your pen moving. She suggested a number of options for how to begin.

The trigger I picked from her suggestions was “At (Name of Church), we love…”

Keeping in mind that this is completely random, without any real thought and with no editing, here is what I wrote:


At St. Philip church we love the beauty, truth, light, goodness, and compassion we believe we see embodied in the person of Jesus.

We long to grow in our ability to live in the fullness of God’s love and truth. We aim to support one another in being fully and deeply the people God calls us to be.

We understand that we always fall short of the perfection for which we were created. So we seek to live beyond judgement and without condemnation. Instead, we aim to be deeply open to the power of love we call “God.” We believe we will come to this place of openness through meaningful, heartfelt, passionate worship in which we come together in vulnerability and gentleness.

We desire to create an atmosphere where people feel honoured and respected wherever they may find themselves on their journey.

We love the wisdom, truth and light we find in the teachings of Jesus, the traditions of the Christian faith, and in contemporary spiritual teaching.

We love to affirm the truth of love and goodness wherever it may be found. We seek to enter into respectful conversation wherever these conversations may be taking place.

We hope to bear witness in our words and actions to the truth of God’s presence and action wherever they may be discerned.

We love the people God brings into our community and desire to be a place where all people feel free to share their gifts in whatever way they may feel genuinely called. At the same time, we do not want anyone to feel pressured by guilt, shame, or demand to make any contribution to our life together that they do not feel they can freely offer.

We hope to be together in ways that are authentic and honest. We want to live together in ways that are deeper than the masks with which we so often encounter people.

We understand that we are all broken. But we believe that the light of Jesus is seen in and through the cracks in our lives. We do not need to get healed before we are able to bear the image of God. We do not need to have all the answers to life’s questions and challenges.

We are on a journey together and desire to travel this journey in a way that enables us to be instruments of healing for each other and for the world.

We love the fact that God’s Spirit is at work in the world beyond our immediate community. We seek to support and affirm that work of God wherever it may be taking place……


at this point Bishop Skelton called a stop to our writing exercise.

This is obviously an entirely personal and partial statement;  it did not come as a result of any consultation or intentional discussion with the people of St. Philip. Although I use the pronoun “we” throughout, this may or may not reflect in any way the feelings of the members of the parish in which I serve.