Cover Letter: Be Brilliant

Cathedral Church of St. Luke

One of the things that attracted me to my volunteer work as a Coast Guard was the idea of cross-training, of getting a refresher on ministry, and learning things that would enhance my ministry at St. Luke’s.  I was reminded of this last week, when I received a letter from Captain Clifford Stuart, the Chaplain of the Atlantic (how’s that for a title!), with a 2022 charge for the chaplains under his command. He gave us three simple points:

  • Be Brilliant on the Basics – We will demonstrate our proficiency as ministry professionals. We

will embody the Navy Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. We also will action the

Corps/Core Capabilities – Provide; Facilitate; Care; Advise; Lead. 

  • Remain Vigilant – We will stand a taut watch. We will not become fixed in our operational

assumptions. Complacency breeds failure. We will Think Forward, Plan Forward, and Act Forward.

  • Stand Stronger Together – We will capitalize on the strength of a diverse and inclusive

chaplain team, where individuals have equal opportunity, dignity, and respect to achieve personal, professional, and mission success. We Stand Stronger Together when we listen and learn from each other.

I was struck by the applicability of this charge for the members of St. Luke’s as we begin another year together.  This is indeed a time to be brilliant on the basics – on worship and prayer, spiritual formation, inreach (care for one another) and outreach (care for the wider community. I often hear people say that “the church” (i.e. the clergy or the staff or the vestry) should be doing a certain ministry better. They forget that the church is not a building but a people, that we are the church and that the responsibility for being church, for “being brilliant on the basics” is one we all share! 

Being brilliant on the basics is not as easy as it sounds. If there is something lacking or that is not being done well, speak up… and be willing stand up and be part of the solution, doing your part to help make whatever it is better.   It is a time to vigilant, to let go of fixed assumptions, to plan and to start moving ahead. This is not about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It is about being aware of the needs around us and adjusting what we do in response. Sometimes St Luke’s operates in silos, with people focused on their project or their group, forgetting to reach out to others. (As an example, it’s amazing how young people feel like everything St. Luke’s does is focused on seniors while seniors feel that it everything is focused on the youth. The goal, of course, is both/and, not either/or!) One of the great growth areas over the past year has been the many classes and groups around Becoming Beloved Community conversations, in which we have recognized the need to look beyond ourselves and truly welcome and include others. As Captain Stewart reminds us, we are stronger together. 

Be Brilliant on the Basics.  Remain Vigilant. Stand Stronger together.  Good advice for chaplains. Good advice for all of us as well.