Welcome Back 2018

As the dog days of summer close, we look towards the Fall and our mission as a parish.

This last year at the annual meeting we outlined some of the ways we might put our mission into action. Here is the main part of that report so that we can by the grace of God be re-inspired to have the rubber hit the road in the next few weeks.

Here we will use as a template the 5 Marks of Mission (aka Marks of Love) which form the framework for ministry in the Anglican Communion (that is our Church throughout the world). I want to describe how we have implemented these Marks of Mission and how we continue to do so in the next year.

 

Tell

Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom. We can see how people have invited their friends to be part of our parish community. We are grateful for how God has added to our numbers during the last year. I am often told what gracious response newcomers receive. I am grateful to our greeters, to those responsible for newcomers lunches, for those who pray to be guided for whom to invite. For sharing your faith day by day. During this next year, we have few projects to continue to attend to. 1. Is to continue to implement the Invite, Welcome, Connect material that has led to such things as greeters in the foyer. Second to implement the work Michael Harvey has done with us and develop a small team of super inviters.

 

Teach

Teaching, baptizing and nurturing believers. Really this should come first. As one well-known psychologist has put it, a person needs to put their own house in order before they change the world. It’s true. During the last year, we have placed a lot of emphasis on spiritual growth. This means encouraging and teaching basic Anglican practices such using the prayer book (in some form) for daily prayer, reading, scripture, understanding the sacraments, being increasingly open to God’s work there. and learning together in small groups. We have done this a variety of forms such as ongoing small groups, seasonal study groups after church, discovery groups and of course ongoing week by week preaching and teaching. The Sunday School is an essential part of this as is the ministry of and with our youth.
 
During the last year, we have often used the material developed by the monks of the order of St John the Evangelist, who mission it is to help Anglicans grow spiritually. During the next year, we need to continue to expand our small group activities, train new leaders provide more opportunities to grow spiritually. We will do so teaching and providing opportunities for the sacraments of healing (anointing and confession/reconciliation) which we have not focused on in the past. We will work even more consistent with our young people. We will provide more opportunities for people to be introduced to and understand our liturgical life. We will provide opportunities for quiet days and retreats.

 

Tend

Responding to human need by loving service. Our parish spontaneously offers care to those in need within our parish community. I have often heard those in need say so. It is amazing the hundreds of small (and large) ways that we care for one another. We also have significant forms of outreach to Bethany Care Centre (each week!) we also offer ministry at Big Hill Lodge, with both service on Thursday evenings about every six weeks and Holy Communion once a month. We offer significant outreach through the All Saints Family Centre. I know that others will report on this, but under this separate non-profit we have A-Z pre-school, Cochrane Wellness Connection and our partnership with people at Morley Reserve in proving grief and loss.
 
We have many other forms of outreach. I must mention the Prayer Shawl ministry as an example that has touched the lives of so many people. During the next year, we will continue in these areas of ministry. We have provided a grant (from Penny West’s memorial money) to The Family Centre to help secure ongoing funding for the Morley Grief and Loss ministry. There is an interest in expanding our seniors’ ministry as well. We need to continue to ensure (as we have) that these are ministries in which members of our parish are fully participating. We need to meet Christ face to face in the people whom our parish serves. It is perhaps the most important route to spiritual growth “he came to serve, not to be served”.

 

Transform

Transforming unjust structures. Challenging violence of every kind, and pursuing peace and reconciliation. This may sound pretty highfalutin. But think of it this way. We have done lots of research in this parish about local needs. The one thing that came through over and over again is that local people often feel like their lives are fragmented. Churches, it has been shown again and again is one of the main forces of social cohesion. People who belong to a church (attend and participate) do better in every single aspect of their lives, and they contribute more to society than those who don’t. This is not wishful thinking, it has has been proven over and over again. By simply existing and pursuing our beliefs we transform society. Churches increase the well-being even of those in the surrounding area, again simply by existing. During the last year, we have made efforts to increase our sense of community. That is our knowledge of one another and our involvement with one another. Even something as simple as a potluck increases well-being.
 
We need to be a strong church. A strong Christian community deeply lives out what it believes without apology. It creates community and meaning for its members. It makes space for (and invites) those who are not yet part of it. The best way that we can realize this mark of the mission is by being the best church we can be. It has amazing power. In the upcoming year, we will continue to build on social events, we will strengthen our Anglican identity through our weekly Eucharist with excellent music, reading, preaching, praying, greeting and coffee drinking. We will welcome and invite the stranger as if they were Christ himself. We will improve our visibility in the community. We matter. We more than matter. We will grow in our knowledge and attention to this.

 

Treasure

Striving to safeguard creation and renewing the life of the earth. During the last year, we invited the Franciscan Friars to come and bless our window of St Francis blessing the animals. At the same time, we initiated a project through the humane society to help children learn empathy through relating to domestic animals. Treasuring God’s creation extends in many directions. It is stewardship of what we have been given. When humanity was created, Genesis tells us, we were made by God to be priestly gardeners in God’s holy garden, which is the earth, really the universe which was seen as a great temple garden.
 

So what have we been given? This parish has been given (through divine circumstances and our response) this beautiful piece of property and these beautiful buildings. This property once, in fact, belonged to the Franciscan Friars who deeded it to the Roman Catholic diocese. And then it came to us. We have the responsibility to care for all of this. This year we undertook some of this ongoing maintenance, or stewardship, through the repair of our roof. We have also (following the guidance of the annual meeting) begun the development of a contingency fun

d. We have been faithful in our care through your donations.

 
T
reasuring what God has given us is also to properly steward the many gifts, that is skills, experience, and abilities as well as gifts of the Holy Spirit, that God has given the people of this parish. During the last year, we have sought to expand our use of these gifts. In the secular world, this is called “volunteer management”: we call it ministry. The treasure that God has given us is also, literally treasure. That is financial resources. As you can see we have sought to carefully use the treasure that God has bestowed on you and you have bestowed back to God’s Church through careful financial management.
 
In the upcoming year, I would like it to be our intention to continue in these matters. We need to continue to care for facilities that are in the prime of life but do need ongoing maintenance to remain that way (like all of us). I believe that we need to continue to develop and draw on the ministry of the people of this parish. Certainly, some people may need to just sit and be. But God has given all of us ministries if only (only!) of intercessory prayer for our parish.
 
I would like us (and our corporation and parish council intend this) to develop a more consistent plan of financial stewardship. To give financially to the mission of the Church is not a burden it is a spiritual discipline that brings great rewards. It is also our bounden duty and service. But it is not enough to say this. We must engage our entire parish community in understanding what our mission is, why it matters and how we can participate. It must be understood and embraced as the spiritual practice that it is. We will work on this in the upcoming year.