Open Doors, Open hearts, Open Minds

Pastor’s Note

New VISION for Walker Chapel 

 

Pending Church Council Conversation and Blessing

Since this past mid-summer, Walker Chapel’s primary leadership has been hard at work defining a path forward for the chapel. The process has included many one-on-one conversations with church and community members, staff, preschool teachers and others who have loved and cared about the mission of the Chapel for many years. It has been a joyful experience to visit in the homes of many who have shared countless stories of the ways Walker Chapel over the years has engaged persons of all ages in vital and life changing ministries. In preparation for the future, our leadership has also studied the changing demographics of our “neighborhood” using a tool called Mission Insite. This tool helps a church to better understand the people and their families who live within a three-mile radius of the church.

Pastor

Rev. Lynne Alley-Grant

The spiritual leader of the Chapel to guide, enlighten, encourage, and aid all that come to our door.

 

Prior to my arrival, lay leader James Wright and pastor Mark Burgess along with Chapel members Lucy Cunningham, Ed Wright, Larry Danforth, Martha Schoonover, Christopher Hatcher and Christiane Roehler engaged in an eighteenth month study of the Chapel and her future. This group’s report has contributed significantly to discerning a way forward. Intentional prayer coupled with countless hours of conversation and reflection have all contributed to the new vision. Further, an appreciation for the past and a desire to include many of the Chapel’s historic hallmarks has all been part of the effort to gain a picture of a new vision for the future.

Our working understanding has been to see a VISION as a picture of the future; a picture that is always evolving and adapting to the movement of the holy Spirit. The following paragraphs attempt to paint a picture of ways we see a new vision unfolding.

In the next decade, Walker Chapel will become a bustling and beloved (sought after) community space for people to gather for respite, refreshment, rejuvenation, and celebration of the mind, body and spirit. For hundreds of Arlington residents and beyond the respite we create will serve as a welcoming and relaxing balm from the frenzied pace of nearby Washington where many within our community spend most of their waking hours.

Walker Chapel will become a catalyst for building community by creating, developing, implementing and curating new initiatives that seek to transform the mind, body and spirit. The Chapel will become a regular space for persons of all ages to be refueled and replenished. The idea of a Chapel Café will become a convenient landing spot for healthy food options, meaningful connections and a happy space to visit.

We see Walker Chapel exploring and inviting others into creative and fresh expressions steeped in ancient spiritual practices. These expressions of LIFE will be informed by scripture, Christian tradition, informed thought, meditation, and personal experience. Many of these expressions will bring new life to our surrounding community through music, dance, theatre, art, meditation, conversation, acts of service, radical hospitality and acts of social justice aimed at creating a more just world.

Through the newly restored cemetery (the existing Cemetery project) we envision Walker Chapel providing an oasis for contemplative reflection, an outdoor sanctuary to celebrate the life of a loved one, a stalwart wall of memories to remember and revisit the life of a loved one, a place of refuge for those in grief, a sacred Columbaria with niches for funeral urns, a labyrinth for walking meditations, prayer and deep listening, a quiet retreat for rest and meaningful conversation, a scattering pond for ashes and a children’s meadow garden for musing. We are indebted to the late Dorothy Glenn for her generous gift of 1.5 million dollars that will enable this part of the vision to become a reality in the coming year!

In a season where God’s people are a mere remnant in our current American culture, through the ways we have conceived, we see Walker Chapel reimagining the Gospel and expressing it in powerful ways that are relevant, refreshing and revolutionary. We see the same pioneering Spirit that led to her founding 147 years ago leading us now to a place where people near and far from North Arlington discover anew and others discover for the first time, the power and transformation of God’s saving (healing) work that happens through community, collaboration and action.

At the heart of all that we see for Walker Chapel, the fruits of our endeavors reflect the Spirit of Jesus and his teachings, the depth of his compassion, radical hospitality, and the unconditional love of God.

During the month of December, our church council will gather to receive a more detailed explanation of how we see this NEW and BOLD vision coming to fruition. While our tradition is a representative body, all are invited to come, see and hear about the ways we believe the vision will unfold. Stay tuned for the time and date of December’s gathering.

Pastor Lynne