If you have ever seen the movie Jerry Maguire, you probably remember that the catalyst for much of the action is a twenty-five-page document written by the main character (played by Tom Cruise) after some experiences in his work as a sports agent that disturb his conscience. At the start of the film we see him staying up all night frantically composing his magnum opus, which he titles “The Things We Think and Do Not Say.” Much of what he writes is critical of the big business of sports agency. The catch is that, after taking his work to an all-night copier (remember those places?) and distributing one copy to everyone in his corporate office, he shifts from a feeling of prophetic euphoria to a panicky sense of dread.
On the very off-chance that you have not seen this film I won’t reveal anything more, except the running joke throughout the story that the first thing people say when they see Jerry is, “Oh, hi. I read your memo.” To which he always responds emphatically, “It was a mission statement.” The definitive document that contained the depth of his feelings for a profession he loves is seen by others as something temporary and disposable; an outlying opinion as opposed to an exhortation rooted in the lived experiences of athletes and those who are supposed to look out for their best interests.
Our Vestry is in the process of reimagining the Mission Statement for the Church of the Holy Apostles. The incentive to do this came out of a Vestry retreat in October led by the Rev. Carol Gadsden from St. Thomas Church in Mamaroneck. She pointed out that our last Mission Statement was adopted by the Vestry in 1995. She encouraged us to revisit the document in light of the changes since, and in the intervening months we have done so. Our goal is to approve a final statement ready to share at our June Vestry meeting.
The process has been lengthy and collaborative. What has been most striking about our conversations is how deeply so many people care about the different aspects that make up Holy Apostles. Every member of the Vestry loves our church and wants people unfamiliar with us to know what makes our community special. There is lots to include; the challenge has been narrowing the options and articulating our common life generally enough to communicate our openness and specifically enough to be meaningful.
This project is important. Because a Mission Statement is not a memo: it is both descriptive and aspirational, definitive and inviting. It tells people who we are and reminds us of our faithful commitments as together we follow the risen Christ.