A tour of DioCal Part I: Spotlight on Our Savior, Mill Valley

The DioCal communications team tour is off to a great start! Every Wednesday, schedules permitting, DioCal Communications Director Stephanie Martin Taylor and Associate Dani Scoville travel to a different church to brainstorm with folks about communications strategies and to learn more about all the wonderful things happening in each congregation. They’re finding that each church, no matter how large or small, has exciting things going on and good news to share!

During their visits, offered on a first-come, first-serve basis (email stephaniem@diocal.org to book yours!), Stephanie and Dani invite folks to share some of that good news with you!

Here’s a bit of their conversation with Our Saviour Mill Valley’s rector, the Rev. Br. Richard Helmer; deacon, the Rev. Margaret Trezevant; and office administrator, Rose Scarff.

 

Stephanie: It’s August here at Our Saviour. What’s happening this time of year that you’re particularly excited about?

 

Richard: I’m really excited about us welcoming a number of new families and new people. Including some people who are getting acquainted with the Episcopal tradition for the very first time. And for them to get acquainted with the tradition of our liturgy and our prayer book and our spiritual life is very exciting for me.

 

Stephanie: Speaking of getting versed in the Episcopal liturgy, with children, we see that you do that in some very creative ways! Can you describe that a bit?

Richard: Yes, we gather the kids every Sunday around the labyrinth and they ring bells, frequently to a hymn tune. And then they do the Lord’s Prayer while doing a sun salutation. And their parents are often there doing it with them. And that helps ground them in that space to prepare to enter the Godly Play classroom.

 

Dani: For people who may not be familiar with Godly Play, could you explain what that is?

 

Richard: It’s based on the Montessori method of teaching, but here’s the baseline: Godly Play assumes that children have a spiritual life. And what it does is it gives them the language to articulate that and reflect on that in the context of our tradition, and it gives them the ability to wonder and play with it. And the best result of that is we see kids grow up and they really know the core stories of their tradition. It becomes part of them. And that’s something they’ll carry with them the rest of their lives.

 

Margaret: I would say one of the things that I am excited about is we’re starting a Faith in Action team. People who want to get involved somehow in work in the community, community advocacy.

 

Richard: That’s very exciting, and one of the things we’ve learned with the development of that team is how much we’re already doing.

 

Margaret. Yes, exactly. And that’s part of it, holding up the ministries that people are doing. And honoring that.

 

Richard: And also developing that. We’re going to get so many more people involved!

 

Stephanie: Finally, if I could ask each of you, what do you love most about Our Saviour?

Rose: Friendly people!  I was welcomed when I first came, and now I get to welcome people that walk in the door. I love to give people that who just walk in off the street a tour. And we often get parishioners from that!

 

Margaret: I love the people here. It’s such a nice group. And I was just reflecting a few weeks ago how I came in October. And how much I love them.

 

Richard: I’ve been here now for over eleven years, and I think not a week goes by when I am not, you know, just blown away by the generosity and care and concern that so many members of this parish show one another, and us as their leaders, and the wider community. I’m always discovering new ways that people are showing that love. The other thing that just really keeps me going right now is the way we have gathered, particularly over the past year, a lot of energy to focus on really the goal of building up the church as the beloved community of God and really reframing all of our volunteer efforts and all of our staff efforts around that. And to see the energy that’s gathering in the building and to see how that really turns out people that are new to the parish is so exciting.

 

Margaret: There’s something going on. There are more people – new people are showing up and they’re liking it. Something’s going on.

 

Richard: I think it has to do with our being intentional. Even with the website, really gearing it toward people who are new. It goes back to my favorite quote of William Temple, “We’re the only society that exists for people who are not yet our members.” And we have gotten really intentional about that, and that has changed everything from how we greet people when they come through the door for the first time, to having a lot of eyes in the room saying, “Oh, they’re new, we need to make sure that we reach out to them,” to the follow up that we’ve built in the office. And all of these things together — that’s sending the message that people really are welcome here and wanted here.