Comments – the Annual Meeting – 2013Archdeacon John Clarke (Rector)
St. Paul’s Church
Earlier this week I was meeting with the bishops and Archdeacons, one of the things we do is ask for report from our region. At least one thing has to be a “good news story.” I said this week that a good news story for me is being rector of this parish. It really is a wonderful thing to serve God and God’s people as your rector, and particularly so now, the evidence of the Holy Spirit is all around. For example:
A few years ago, a few minutes before the 8:00 am service was about to begin, Jay and I noticed that no one from our roster of readers, litanists and administrators had shown. Quickly, we divided up the various ministries between us. Then, in walks Peter Fenton, who says that he noticed that no one from the roster has shown, so, he asked this person to do that and that person to do this… Then he asked us, is that okay?
Is that okay! That’s better than okay, that brilliant! That’s exactly how we should be as a community. Not just willing to step-in to fill a need, you’ve always been ready for that, but willing to organize ourselves so that the integrity of the community is maintained and strengthened.
That’s what happened that morning. And since then, I’ve noted many, many times when the same thing or something very similar has happened. And not just at the 8:00 am service, but all over the place, everywhere we are, all that we do, people (you) have stepped forward to maintain and strengthen the integrity of the community that is St. Paul’s Church, this part of the mystical body of Christ.
At this point there is nothing that can stop you; except territorialism and complacency. Territorialism in the Church is the tendency we have to think of one form of ministry or another as belonging to oneself and no one else can or should do it. Complacency in the Church is the tendency we have to let someone get away with territorialism.
Several years ago we engaged in a significant time of prayer and discussion to determine what we thought our God-given Vision and Mission was. That process resulted in a vision for St. Paul’s Church: To show the Transforming Love and Justice of God in Action. At the same time we determined, through prayer, that our Mission is to be a Christ-Centered Community living out our Baptismal Covenant with Joy and Thanksgiving.
We believe that this Mission is characterized by: Worship, Hospitality, Belonging, Education and Growth and, Out Reach. Our Mission included the thought that we look to Christ for the wisdom and strength to fulfill this mission. We held, as an informative piece of scripture, Micah 6:8b
“...and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice,
and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?”
During the last two years I have encouraged the Parish Council and various committees to think about renewing our Vision and Mission. We even drew together a group of people called the Parish Life Committee to do some planning. Eventually, the message finally got through to me, the Vision and Mission statements don’t need to be changed – they are good just as they are. They are great, and as one person put it to me, why would you change them? It is time to live them more deeply.
To live them more deeply… God’s love for us and God’s call for justice in the world transforms us; transforms our community, and potentially transforms the world.
Well, we do not get to live our Vision and Mission more deeply without effort, without commitment.
To that end, to live our faith more deep, we will worship together; we will show hospitality and love to one another; we will help the stranger and the known to grow in their sense of belonging to St. Paul’s Church community; we will educate ourselves and grow deeper in our faith; we will never stop, as long as we are able, to provide for those in need.
It is with great pleasure this morning that I remind you that we will hold a Parish Festival on April 26, 27 and 28. That is a Friday evening to a Sunday morning. This is Your Church! The festival will give us an opportunity to celebrate the ways in which the Spirit’s gifts have empowered us. It will also be an opportunity for us to discern the Spirit’s gifts amongst us now – not only our own gifts, as individuals, but what we have collectively. Together. As a people called together, we are stronger, wiser, better than simply as individuals.
I am very excited about this Parish Festival: This is Your Church. Its theme is inspired by stories like the one I told at the beginning, and the many other stories, when you’ve, by your actions of love, have helped maintained and strengthened the integrity of St. Paul’s Church.
I am so excited that I will call this a must-see event. I don’t mean that you have to attend; I just mean that when you hear about it afterwards you will be disappointed that you missed it. So, if you play poker with the boys every Friday night, this would be a good time to skip that in favor of an event at Church. If you never miss the PEI Rocket or the Summerside Storm or the UPEI Panthers, this is the day to put Your Church first, this is the day that is a must see event…
Let me quote a member of the Parish Council, who said recently, “I used to dread coffee hour, all I heard was complaints, now I like to go, because all I hear is suggestions.” By God’s Holy Spirit, we have been transformed, don’t be territorial or complacent, but rejoice in the transforming love and justice of God.
We all have “good news story” to share, it is good news story for each of us to be members, to belong to this parish. Let me replete what I told the bishops this week; it really is a wonderful thing to serve God and God’s people as your rector.