State of the Church
Annual Parish Meeting
January 27th, 2019
Our mission, which is on the front of your bulletin, states, “We welcome, serve and love all unconditionally.” That is our call. That is our mission. We have not done it perfectly; we have much more work to do to live this out, but I hope and pray that it will continue to be who we are and what we are to do. Those words separate us. They define a unique mission and a unique way to hear God’s word and proclaim it.
One of the things which defines us as a denomination is that we have no dogma. Dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by a denomination as incontrovertibly true which the denomination demands you adhere to, to be part of that church. There is no litmus test to joining this church. We are instead bound together by Jesus Christ. We are bound together as Christ’s body in this worship and at this altar. More than anything else the bread and wine, the body and blood bind us to God and each other.
Did you listen to the collect this morning? “Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works;” This is All Saints’ mission.
This is my annual report. I want to begin with Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts.”
Have you looked around? Our parish is filled greater gifts. It is filled with life and people who offer their gifts to the glory of God. The body of Christ which is All Saints’ is a wonderful Spirit filled place. I don’t thank as well as I should, so I want to thank today.
Without Cindy Perry, Neal Prater and Alicia Davis, so much of what we do as a parish would not get done. Each brings, not just their gifts, but God’s Spirit. This is your staff. Give thanks for them.
Give thanks for the choir and Cindy’s abilities to lead them. Our music is special. We are blessed with people committed to serving God and you with their gifts of music. Without them our worship would be less.
Give thanks for the Altar Guild. They are a group of people who get little fanfare and yet their careful work to care for the altar, linens, the vessels and vestments are a gift to you. You and I come in each week and our worship has been carefully prepared.
Give thanks for those who offer their talents as lector or intercessor; for those who acolyte or carry the Gospel Book; for chalice bearers; all who give of themselves to make this time of worship holy.
Give thanks for your leadership. The vestry you elect, and our treasurer, Morris are wonderful. They are committed to this place and to lead. They give of their time and talent and because they do, we continue to seek to become a more vibrant place where we not only worship, but we gather to build the body and reach out. They are the fiduciaries of the temporal gifts All Saints’ has. They take what you give, and they seek to use it to fulfill our mission.
Give thanks for those who care for this church building and its grounds. Harry, Henry and Howard do so much to keep this church running. Without their continuing care for these buildings and grounds, I’m not sure what we would be.
Give thanks for those who offer themselves in pastoral care. We have teams of people, when there is an emergency, reach out with food and visits.
Give thanks for those who prepare our receptions and plan for meals and coffee hour. For those who help to make things like Episcopal Tailgating and Film & Theology successful venues to share God’s love and let people know that they are welcome.
Give thanks for those who come and offer themselves by their presence. I’m not sure you understand how important that is. Showing up is an act of stewardship; it is an opportunity to witness your faith. One of the greatest witness’s to God’s glory is presence; whether it be at worship or at shag lessons. Thank you for being a witness to each other by being here.
Give thanks for all who pledge and all who give, for without you we could not do what we are called to do and be.
We have much to give thanks for. This is what our central work is about, giving thanks. Each week we come together to give Holy Thanksgiving to God. I give thanks for each of you because without you we would be less. So, offer your voice, your presence and your gifts to God’s glory. Look around to see what needs to be done and to see where you fit in and then boldly step out to do it.
The state of our parish is good, but we do face struggles and challenges. We had a deficit last year. It was something the vestry and I planned for. We knew it would happen and the deficit was less than we expected. Our budget is meant to reflect us trying to grow. If we don’t grow, over the next 5 or 10 years, we will begin to face the realities that we cannot sustain a fulltime priest or even a half time priest. If we do not grow, we will face the truth of less things being done, not only in our common life but in this community. If we do not grow, we will not be able to live out the call of God found in the collect, that “the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works;”
You have a role in the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ in this place. First, be present. Be a witness by committing to be here. Be a witness by pledging. What you give defines what we can do. Be a witness by finding a way to share your talents. Talk about All Saints’ with your friends. Find a way to welcome new people into our parish. We are one body with many members and many gifts. You, your very distinctive gifts, your voice have a place here. Without them we cannot begin to live out the mission God has placed before us.