Happy New Year everyone!
The beginning of a new year always gives us reason to make a change if we choose to. Sometimes we get caught up in changes that others make because they somehow involve us. Some changes make us sad while others give us an opportunity to grow or be happier.
During 2013, we saw a lot of changes at St. Michael’s. Some were more obvious than others. The changes made to the classroom wing, the hallways and bathrooms and the sacristy were major physical changes that allowed us to take a deep breath and say “yes, this is good.” Some were more subtle like closets cleaned out, a window replaced in the stairway to the undercroft and the emergency exit to the undercroft which no one ever sees. As a safety issue, it was re-constructed.
The more dramatic changes were when Fr. Jim retired (for real) at the end of July. He was one of the greatest priests St. Michael’s has ever seen who took us from broken hearts to mended minds. He was here as a supply priest first and eventually became an interim. We will never forget Fr. Jim and will always want to call him our friend. We are grateful for what he did for us. Then followed Fr. Dan, whom we spent the latter half of last year adjusting to and he to us. We are thankful for finding Fr. Dan with such a short list of available priests for our parish profile.
Now comes 2014 and what is in store for this new year? We have a few things for you to think about.
One of the gifts St. Michael’s has is its gift of talents. We are graced with the talent of music; choir and now children’s choir. Every Sunday, we have available to us a service that includes music complete with an organist and people leading us in heartfelt song. We also have the benefit of a Sunday School program that includes Godly Play followed by a crafts time where children create from what they have learned and an Inquirers’ Class for adult learning. This is preceded by a Joyful Noise children’s choir rehearsal where the kids not only learn songs, but learn about music, rhythm, pitch and so on.
We have many other talents as well. We have book groups, an exemplary Outreach program that has a planned program each month to give, to help, to reach out to those in need…and they lead us to do that. We have a Treasurer and a dedicated Finance Committee that has brought us into compliance with canons, monitors our spending and income and helps us invest our endowments to the benefit of our parish and outreach. We have Lay Eucharistic Visitors (LEVs) that go out to give communion to those who can’t come to church, acolytes, readers, chalice bearers, altar guild members who prepare the table and the list goes on and on.
As you can see and appreciate, many people come together to make it all happen, and happen out of the goodness of their hearts for the love of God.
In 2014, we will be taking a very focused look at where we as a parish are going in accordance with the goals of the diocese. Bishop Lane described at convention in 2012, his intention to form a group to discuss holy conversations in an effort to begin the talk. In his address, he described:
“We are God’s people and we are empowered by baptism to participate in God’s ministry of reconciliation. In order to share in the ministry of reconciliation, we have to know our neighbors and to understand their needs. In many ways, the contemporary church is isolated from and hostile towards the culture in which it lives. We are suspicious of people who are not part of the church. We must overcome the separation between the church and the culture if we are to have meaningful opportunities to help reconcile the world to God.”
We at St. Michael’s must continue to be a part of this discussion and work towards inviting people in by stepping into their midst and listening. For it is by listening that we become a part of their conversations and they then become a part of ours.
We look for your input on how we can best serve our neighbors and bring them into the realm of God’s people. As a vestry, we will be spending a lot of time discussing this and suggesting and recommending ways that we as a parish can fulfill this undertaking. We need to look at our Sunday mornings and assess whether together are fulfilling our spiritual quest or just going through the motions. Are we serving young and old and in-betweens as best as we can? Are we taking care of your neighbors as Jesus exemplified? Are we inviting or just welcoming. Read this linked article to learn how we need to step out of our pews and get out on the street with the people that need us most. We are all apostles after all.
Paul & Evelyn