Building Blessed Community Beyond Our Walls: An Interview with Leaders from All Saints Brookline


ECM’s ten-month program, “Prophetic Listening” works with parishes to deepen the parish’s sense of relational culture, begin or join a community justice initiative in their community, and increase the number of people engaged in the work of community engagement. In the program, teams made up of parishioners and wider community members learn leadership practices that enable them to listen and respond to how God is calling them to love boldly and do justice.

This month we are lifting up the work of All Saints Brookline through an interview with the facilitator, Libby Gatti, and lay leader, Janelle Mills, who are leading the congregation through the PLP program.

ECM: How would you describe the congregation?

Janelle Mills (JM): All Saints is filled with warmth. The glow from the amber windows casts a gentle light on the kind hearts of the people in the pews. We are a congregation seeking to know God and each other better and to do God's work in the world. However, we are also an over-committed community struggling to find capacity for that work.

Libby Gatti (LG): The congregation that I’ve met and know, they seem to me very much a group of people who have real desire for depth with one another. I can really sense that this plays a huge role in their desire to do this program. To think together on how this small team of people can contribute to a greater breadth and depth of connection within the congregation.

ECM: What motivated you to join the Prophetic Listening Program either as a participant or a trainer?

JM: The congregation has been talking about building the blessed community for a number of years yet we seem to be in the same place year after year. The idea of support from outside our congregation and a structure for progress motivated me to join. Many in our community, myself included, have been here for years. It's refreshing to have ECM bring in facilitators to help us figure out how to effectively do the work of deep conversations and help reframe our thinking. Our Rector had been planting seeds for awhile, and it seems like now is the time for some growth.

LG: I was motivated to support All Saints on this journey because I feel so strongly that parish communities have such dormant power in them for real transformational relationships. I think that the desire and energy are there in a parish to have deep relationships and its important to support that desire with the tools and skills that they need, something I saw the Prophetic Listening Program had the potential to do.

ECM: What inspires you about All Saints Brookline?

JM: Our clergy, Richard+ and Anoma+, are a constant source of inspiration for me. Their sermons challenge me and also restore me on a weekly basis. I also find inspiration in our wonderful choir. The music is always a strong compliment to the liturgy. And the people. I've gotten to know many people who attend regularly and the care I hold for them inspires me to be better.

LG: There’s a lot, they are a group of people who are committed to seeing the gifts that each person brings. That commitment inspired me because I think when you start from that place, the possibilities are endless. The work is grounded in really valuing each other and our group has such a range of abilities and experiences. It feels like everyone in the group really values that and tries to make a unique place for each other on the team.

ECM: What do you hope comes from the work at All Saints?

JM: I really hope this work at All Saints can create a culture shift. I'd love to see deep conversation become a regular and ordinary occurrence. I'd love to unearth what is in our hearts in terms of mission and find ways we can share our passions, resources, and talent to do God's work in a way that fits who we are as a community. And I hope we become a community that listens first and then acts to build this blessed community beyond the boundaries of our walls.