Gabriola Ecumenical Society
The Appreciative Inquiry Report: A Christian Community Reflects
Sept. 22, 2004,
by members of the Gabriola Ecumenical Society
“The Church and her people are mysteries to be embraced,
not problems to be solved.”
Background: From May to August 2004 the Gabriola Ecumenical Society (GES) carried out an Appreciative Inquiry survey of its members “in order to implement holistic and effective leadership and direction for the benefit of our community.”
The GES committee selected the Appreciative Inquiry format because it suited our needs, and integrated with the Appreciative Leadership model. The purpose of the survey was to identify key aspects of the community’s life on which to base the on-going work of the GES. The survey consisted of five questions, some with more than one part, on the experience of fellowship in the log church community (previously “Our Lady of Victory and St. Martin Ecumenical Community,” 1986 – 2003). It included questions about participation, valued aspects of our life together, unique strengths, the call to community felt by members, the community’s nurturance of members’ spiritual journeys, highlights, the experience of Christ in the community, and hopes/dreams/ideas for the ideal Christian community and ecumenism. Survey information was gathered mainly by interviews, all using the same two page questionnaire protocol. Some members completed the questionnaire themselves, and a few added more detailed comments.
This report summarizes the results of the 42 questionnaires received by mid September, 2004. It begins with an overall summary, followed by summaries and quotations from the questionnaires that show the characteristic witness for each question.
Overall, the questionnaire replies fell into six broad themes: people, purpose, religious activities, social activities, the resulting quality of life, and hopes for the future.
People: Members felt invited, encouraged, and appreciated in their involvement with the Ecumenical Community. They described fellow congregation members as talented, intelligent, warm, loving, creative, respectful, tolerant, and supportive.
Purpose: Members’ high sense of purpose was evident in their replies. They felt led by Christ into an experience of the Holy Spirit. In their joint vision of ecumenism they felt called by God to be one.
Religious activities: Common worship was important to the Ecumenical Community’s Christian life. Religious activities included worship, sermons, the Nicene Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, special services, retreats, meditation, personal examples of Christian living, Cursillo, Bible study, dialog, Marriage Encounter, the alter guild, prayer wheel, pastoral care, the Sunday School, yard and building maintenance, participative church leadership, and other church-supportive activities.
Social Activities: Respondents enjoyed a wide range of social activities together. These included; various occasions of meals together, large pot-luck events (by 2002 more than one hundred people were attending the Thanksgiving and Christmas suppers), social gatherings, Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner, garage sales, other fund raising events, the Canada Day party, Shakespearean readings, and suppers together at members homes.
The Ecumenical Community’s quality of life: Respondents characterized the experience of the Ecumenical Community as; loving, caring, diverse, working together, accepting, tolerant, involving the laity, mutually supportive (especially in spiritual, emotional, and practical pastoral care), like a family, spiritually nurturing, informative, Spirit filled, and reaching out to the larger community.
Hopes for the future: Members had numerous suggestions for building an ideal Christian community, rich in religious, intellectual, and social opportunities. They expressed the desire to continue the qualities that had characterized the Ecumenical Community, such as welcoming, inclusive, participative, loving and caring. Members wanted to further increase Christian unity, to be an example of religious tolerance and unity in the world.