Rector’s Report to the Annual Meeting 2017
Rector’s Report to the Annual Meeting
This morning, I want to lay out the priorities which I think are essential for this coming year for the life of our Parish Family.
Over the last several years, one priority that has constantly been brought up by members of our parish is the need to bring in new members. I can honestly say that, in the past few years we have indeed been bringing new people into our parish family. A few Sundays ago, when the weather was, well, typical for this time of year (cold and snowy) I looked around and at the congregation, as small as it was that day, and realized that over 3/4 of those there that day were new members since I came to Holy Cross five years ago.
Growing a small parish in a small town that is not it self growing is a tough enterprise. Indeed growing any church in any town is tough. The first thing we need to remember is that it’s not us who make the parish grow, but God.
Now, I please don’t think I’m throwing all the responsibility of growing our parish on God. Actually, I am, but we need to be mindful of the things that God is calling on us to do to work with him. That’s what the whole Christian life is about: God doing what he does, and us responding in the way which God wants us to respond in order to be the hands and feet of God here on earth. That’s what you and I are called to be – the body of Christ, carrying on his mission in the world, by his grace. My sermon this morning was about Christ leading the Charge from death to life, and the mission of the Church, and therefore the mission of this parish as the Church in Warrensburg, is to carry out that work which God has called us to do. Indeed we end our Mass each week asking God to help us “do all such Good works which though has prepared for us do to.”
In order to be a place where people want to come. In order to be a family that people want to be a part of, we need to have our business in order. And to have that business in order, we need to be constantly asking ourselves, “Is this what God want us to do?” More than any priority which you may think our parish family may have, that must be priority number one. Are we doing what God wants us to do.
And I want to invite you today, to join with me in adding to your prayers “O Lord, what would you have us do?” That was the prayer which Paul offered up when he was confronted with the vision of Christ on the Road to Damascus. “Lord, what shall I do?”
I’ve been asking that very question myself over the last several months. What would God have us do as we move toward the future. I want to share with you a few thoughts which I have discerned.
One area which we need to pray about is how can we do more to reach out to our community. I’ve struggled myself with this very question. There are a lot of wonderful ministries which God has called other churches to in our town. North Country Ministry, the Gathering Place, the Food Pantries. What can we do?
Within our own parish, too, each of us needs to consider how we can offer service. There wonderful people in our parish who bear a lot of the work. We need volunteers to help out with things like serving on the Altar as Acolytes and Chalice bearers and members of the Altar Guild.
But we also need more people to step up and help out with those special events, like dinners, and monthly breakfasts, with those special events like the quiche luncheon and the annual Christmas Bazaar. The more people who are willing to help the better.
One of the first items the vestry will be discussing next month at our first meeting of the year will be bringing back a few committees comprised of both members of the vestry and parishioners in general. Please be willing to volunteer or serve when asked.
In the area of our worship, the vestry has discussed trying to have a contemporary service in addition to our traditional worship services. Personally, I think that there is value in having a broad range of worship offerings, but I am hesitant at the idea that we should use worship as a means of evangelism. Other churches and parishes have tried it and that’s not what worship is for.
In the area of Evangelism, we need to get ourselves out there in the public eye more often than we have in the past year. That’s one important thing. After five years, im recognized enough around town to be a visible part of our community. That’s been an important aspect of bringing new people into our family. But the biggest and most important and best way to get more people to church is to invite them. If everyone in the room today, worked this year to invite just person to church this year, we could double the size of our parish. Who will you try to bring into the church this year? Think of one person, just one and start working on them remembering that the best thing you can to start that process is to start praying for them on a daily basis. And then start inviting them.
In the area of Education, Holy Cross has a robust offering of Educational opportunities. We have the Rector’s forum on Several Sundays and Weekly Tuesday Evening meeting that goes back and forth between a book of the Bible and some other book. We also have a Men’s Bible study and a women’s bible study that meet once a month. I can share with you that I have felt personally heartbroken when I have made direct invitations to people to participate in the Rector’s forum and been told “no I’m not interested.” I can honestly say I’m hurt when I hear that. What I want to ask of each of you today is to commit to participating in some form of the educational study offerings that we have here. They are really one of my favorite parts of my job. You don’t have to talk in the groups, you don’t have to do answer questions, but just come and see, like Andrew told his brother Peter in today’s lesson.
Pastoral care is probably my second favorite part of my work here at Holy Cross. You actually pay me to go and visit people and I really do enjoy visiting our shut ins, and being there for people in their time of need.
At the same time, caring for our parishioners is a job for everyone. I’m always delighted to hear from our shut ins that so and so called them or stopped by and visited them. Our shut ins don’t make it here because they’re not able, so please, keep them part of the family this year by reaching out to them with a phone call, a card, or a visit.
I would also like to institute Lay Eucharistic Visitors in the parish. In some parishes, there are trained volunteers that take Communion from the Mass on Sunday to shut-ins each week after mass. I wonder if this might be something we can try here? Would any of you be willing to go visit a shut-in after mass on Sunday and bring them communion?
Another ministry, which exists in our parish, but you don’t hear much about is our Parish Nurse. While you don’t hear much about it, I want to just say two things. This is a wonderful ministry that has done a lot of wonderful things for our parish this past year, the results of which are private and confidential, and so done not so much in secret but in a way to keep people’s personal medical lives private. And secondly, if you have any questions regarding your health care, we have a Nurse in our parish who is available to you to help you get answers.
The final area I want to speak about today is Stewardship. Stewardship is perhaps the second most important dimension of parish life after Evangelism. Each of us is called to share the Gospel with others, in intentional ways in our lives, that’s evangelism. What follows on evangelism’s heels is Stewardship.
Stewardship involves a lot of dimensions. One of those dimensions is the maintenance of our day to day operations. You received today a report from our Treasurer. You’ll see that at the end of the year, we made ends meet and all our bills are paid. That’s wonderful. That is a blessing from God.
But one of the things that concerns me is that as you look at the report, only half of our income came from regular giving envelopes. Almost 10% came from our endowment, and almost 25% came from special projects, which are funded by things like the annual Raffle. As we look to the future, we need to have a better understanding of how God wants us to be good stewards of our annual expenses and income. A few years ago, a few parishioners went to the Parish Leadership Conference and heard about a program called “New Consecration Sunday.” This year, I’m going to be enlisting the help of some of you, and some fellow clergy to help us better understand how we might become better givers in the kingdom of God for our annual budget.
Lastly, as members of our Parish we are responsible for being good stewards of the things we have been given, our buildings being a key component. We have done a great job over the years of keeping up and maintaining the buildings we have, and being able not just to use them for our own needs, but to offer them up to the community for their needs. Our ability to be there for our surrounding community is a great blessing to us as well as to the people of Warrensburg. Our buildings are used on a regular and continuing basis by the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, North Country Ministry, Alcoholics Anonymous, and for private gatherings, such as baby showers, and receptions following funerals to name a few. I’m grateful we’ve got the beautiful and functional space to do that. And as part of our life as a family we’re charged with making sure its available for years to come.
To that end, our vestry has decided that we need to undertake another capital campaign this year. Over the last several years we’ve raised money to pay for big projects like the new roof over the kitchen, insulating the chapel roof, and the repaving of the driveway. This year, we don’t have any big ticket projects in the works. But we do have a number of smaller projects which need our attention. IN the next few weeks, you’ll be receiving a letter asking you to join in a capital campaign to raise $25,000 in order to get accomplish those little projects we need to get done. When you get that letter, please consider prayerfully how you will contribute.
I want to end this morning on a personal note. Its hard to believe that its been five years since I first stood up here and addressed you as your Priest-in-Charge. Remember that? I was 9 days into this thing called “being a priest.” I want to say how grateful I am to you all for all your love and support you’ve shown me. You’ve continued to teach me what it is to be a family in Christ. I know that I haven’t always been on top of my game, but I couldn’t do any of it without the love and help you’ve given me. I truly hope that someday I can somehow repay you all for what you have done for me. I can’t even begin to express what it means. But from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I really do love being here with you all, and serving you as a priest in God’s Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. And I truly hope that this year will bring great blessings on our church family.
May God bless you all as you have blessed me these last few years.
Key Points from the Report to the Annual Meeting
- In everything we do this year, ask with Saint Paul, “Lord what would you have us do?” (Lord, is this what you want us to do?)
- Find a community outreach program and build on one which we have already
- Increase service within our parish
- More people helping out with events within the parish. (Breakfasts (Vestry), parish dinners, quiche luncheon, Christmas Bazaar)
- Need a server for the 8 am service.
- Host a worship event that the wider community would participate in
- Get out in the public eye as a parish.
- Every member invites one person to become part of the Holy Cross Family this year.
- Start by praying for them
- Then, invite them to “Come and See!”
- Encourage more people to participate in some for of Christian Education
- Rector’s Forum
- Tuesday Evening Bible Study
- Men’s Bible Study
- Women’s Bible Study
- Encourage parishioners to reach out to shut ins
- Cards, visits, phone calls
- Lay Eucharistic Visitors – bring communion on Sunday to a shut in
- Keep people informed about the availability of the Parish Nurse
- Hold a New Consecration Sunday program this year.
- Conduct an Capital Campaign to raise $25,000 for “small” upkeep projects around the parish