Reimagining Church

Thriving Congregations Initiative: New Models for the 21st Century

Waves of Grace

By Jonathan Maresca

I used live on Mission Beach in San Diego. Outside of the busy summer months, the beach houses were turned into student rentals. In my last year of college, my friend and I were fortunate enough to have rented a small apartment right by the Pacific Ocean. Each morning, I would dart to the coast to watch the waves crash and recede, crash and recede, crash and recede. This constant rhythm hummed in the background of an otherwise tumultuous college year.

Across my past nine months as the Reimagining facilitator at Zion Episcopal Church, I believe there has been a similar constancy underlying and sustaining our Working Group. While North Branford may not be at the water’s edge, there have been waves in our Working Group. These waves have been the waves of God’s grace moving through our group. 

It would have been impossible to predict what our Working Group would have gone through when we first started in September: Building a caring community through storytelling, singing to a room full of strangers during a Yale workshop, presenting not once, but twice, to our church community, and the unexpected departure of Zion’s Rector after over a decade of service. To be honest, if you would have told me all this at the start of my position, I might have run for the hills! Time and time again, however, I have been in awe of the waves of God’s grace carrying us through these “liminal” moments. 

We started without the slightest clue for where we might end up in this Reimagining journey. It is safe to say that by the true grace of God, we have come to a place bursting with new possibilities and affirmed by the Spirit. During last Sunday’s parish gathering, the Working Group presented three “new things” to share with the congregation: (1) A renewed digital communications presence, (2) A promotional video showing the soul of Zion’s community, (3) Participation at the summer POCO festival in North Branford. 

The parish could hardly contain their excitement and enthusiasm for the steps ahead. The sign-up sheets quickly filled, and we ended with a final sign-up sheet: A new Reimagining Working Group after my departure.

I have full faith that God is moving at Zion Episcopal Church. Like all those surfers outside my San Diego apartment, I pray that Zion may continue to ride the waves of God’s grace through stillness and storm. 

Image | Laura Barry on Unsplash