Sunday’s sermon on the importance of identifying St. Luke’s next mission project elicited some lively response at coffee hour following our worship. A number of people approached your Wardens and Vestry with some exciting possibilities to explore: build up The Ark even further, use Springwater Studio as a daycare facility for low income families, provide emergency shelter either during times of regional disaster or for homeless persons during sub-freezing weather, support existing programs for refugee relief.
Regardless of whether any of these are readily accomplished, the response indicates the truth of my assertion that the answer to the question “What is our next mission” lies in the heart of the congregation rather than in the imaginings of the Rector.
I also stated that I would ask the Vestry to devise a mechanism where the ideas of the congregation for mission could be given voice and consideration. You can expect to hear from the Vestry soon about a parish gathering (around a pot-luck supper, of course!) tied to our Stewardship Program where this will happen in November.
But let’s be clear – a congregation isn’t limited to one mission. In the same way that a beautiful garden grows a variety of flowers, so too a healthy congregation embraces a number of priorities at once. None of them need be in competition; in fact, they can complement each other in powerful ways. Some of those initiatives are directed outside the walls of the church and are aimed at serving the community in which it lives. Others are directed at the church itself to insure that our own house is in order, thus insuring the success of our other efforts.
So, while we are praying for discernment about our next major mission project directed toward the community, let me suggest the following efforts to strengthen our own standing.
First, we can be united in heart and mind by committing to pray for our parish daily. All good action begins with prayer. Your prayer need not be formal or fancy – just holding our ministry and mission in your mind for a few seconds each day ties you to every other member in unity of purpose and intention.
Second, we must insure the strong continued management of the church. Part of this is accomplished by adopting best practices in financial and administrative oversight, but it also requires a constantly revolving leadership process. Nothing signals the calcification of a church more than a “fixed” Vestry – one where the members never rotate off leaving way for other members to contribute insight and exercise a share of equity in the life of the congregation. In the same way that a variation in blood lines guarantees “breed hardiness” in livestock, a Vestry that evolves to include the widest number of members by rotating membership guarantees the vitality of a church.
For far too long, Vestry service at St. Luke’s has been seen as something other than what it truly is – an honor and a privilege. Accepting a role in the leadership of the church is a mark of spiritual maturity and a fulfillment of one of our baptismal vows to insure the health of the apostles’ teaching and fellowship.
Third, we must commit to making church a place of unquestioned safety for all. We can take a huge step in this direction by having every member of the congregation take the online Safe Church Training offered by the Diocese of Oregon. It’s free, it’s discreet, and you don’t even have to leave your home – just go to https://www.diocese-oregon.org/ministries/safe-church/, scroll down to the “Online Training” button and click. There are a number of modules that can be taken at a time convenient for you.
Fourth, change the way you think about your relationship with St. Luke’s. You are not just attendees or friends, or even members. You are stewards, entrusted with the success and vitality of this part of Christ’s body.
We can accomplish all these things without cost and without undue effort while we consider the next ways in which we will bless the world in which we live.
Why is it important that we focus on a vision for mission at this point in our common life? As we announced at the recent evening gathering of Vestry and congregation, we have been invited to submit an application for a grant from the Episcopal Bishop of Oregon Foundation. The grant would provide seed money for a project that emerges from St. Lue’s to benefit the surrounding community and re-visions our use of the Springwater Studio space. The grant could provide as much as $25,000 per year for three years, bolstering not only our mission but providing sufficient funding to increase our Rector’s position to a full timeline, recognizing that the mission project would necessarily provide a focus for a portion of that person’s ministry among us. This is an unparalleled opportunity to begin rebuilding our work outside the church’s walls.
I encourage each of you to give thought and prayer to this work, and join with me in dreaming of the possibilities ahead.
Some people just don’t know what to say. So try this:
Everliving God, whose will it is that all should come to you through your Son Jesus Christ: Inspire our witness to him, that all may know the power of his forgiveness and the hope of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
PiZZA & PIEFACE at St. Luke’s!
Come to our next Youth Group
Sunday Oct. 28th!
We will start with with Pizza
and then…a scavenger hunt…
plus much more!
Join us for Fun, Fellowship & Frivolity!
Hugs & Kisses,
Once again, St. Luke’s has responded generously to people in need — at a special offering then on Sunday for the victims of Hurricane Michael, those present gave $144.00 to be forwarded to Episcopal Relief and Development. Charity Navigator rates Episcopal Relief and Development four stars and a full independent review of the organization can be found HERE.
If you would like to make further donations, you can contribute online at www.espiscopalrelief.org or mail your gift to:
Episcopal Relief & Development
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017