Pentecost Pastoral letter – June 4, 2017
Dear people of St. Andrew’s,
As we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the “birthday” of the church, and enjoy the early days of summer, let’s take some time to consider all that we have accomplished, in partnership with God and one another, and what is coming in the rest of 2017.
Over the past few years, we have “dipped our toes” in many different aspects of ministry, all in an effort to develop a truly multi-generational community of Christian disciples here at St. Andrew’s. The goal has been to expand our capacity for change, to address areas where we are limited, and to improve our adaptability. We seek to continue to increase our openness, our level of engagement and our connection to God, to one another and to the wider community.
The aspects of our ministry and community life that we have particularly focused on in the past couple of years are:
- Expanding our music repertoire for worship; establishing new leadership; and, developing our capacity for variations in worship patterns.
- Reaching out to the community around us through education events like our “Physician-Assisted Dying” panel and “What’s Your Favourite Heresy?” study program. We have also begun a relationship with the local community association and offered hospitality to our neighbours with a community breakfast.
- Working through a parish process of discernment to request Diocesan permission to offer blessings to same-sex couples. The process demonstrated our ability as a community to discuss an emotional topic with grace and compassion for all involved.
- Reflecting on our stewardship of the resources God gives us, human and financial, personally and collectively; and, considering our approach to giving and gratitude.
- Improving our communications technology, particularly with a new, more flexible, website with an online photo directory. We have also shifted to a more visually appealing weekly e-newsletter.
- Upgrading our property with needed roof repairs and through designing, planning, fundraising and contracting for significant improvements to our parking lot entrance and landscaping. This project is almost complete and it is already making a big difference to how we communicate who we are to passersby, not to mention the greater ease of access!
All the above represents great work, inspired by God’s Spirit moving in our midst, and gives us a solid foundation on which to continue growing in our faith and mission. None of it is complete (it never is!) but we have made great strides in developing our community infrastructure and our capacity for growth and diversity. …/2
Looking towards the rest of 2017, the areas of ministry we will be focusing on are:
- Children and youth: Through the early months of 2017, small groups gathered to reflect on our ministry with our youngest parishioners. We discussed some overarching goals for this ministry and wondered about how that might inform our approach. That work was compiled into a job description for a coordinator position that we pray will be filled over the summer. Additionally, we will be creating a “children’s corner” play area in the church sanctuary to improve our hospitality and facilitate young children remaining with us for worship.
- “Extending the Welcome” inside the parking lot entrance: In the on-going effort to be open, engaged and connected in our ministries, we are working on ways to better communicate who we are and what we do in a variety of ways. This may include a new notice board to highlight our many ministries (in place of the coat rack) at the parking lot entrance, along with additional signage. It also means continuing to work at incorporating new people into existing ministries, perhaps by adding an online option for signing up, and by exploring our attitudes and practices around belonging, ownership, openness, responsibility and accountability.
- Theological study: Questions of faith and belief in changing times play a critical role in our community. This fall we will do an in-depth study of theological developments since the 1960’s in an effort to develop and deepen our own understanding and to help us connect in meaningful ways with our own souls and those in the wider community. Throughout the summer, I encourage you to be in touch with your niggling questions about the bible, faith, spirituality, belief… what are the most pressing theological questions for us today?
Finally, 2018 marks our 60th Anniversary!
How should we celebrate this wonderful milestone?!?
What might God be calling us to in the next 60 (10 or 5 years)?
In light of all the above… our triumphs and difficulties, our successes and failures, our passions and our doubts, in the later part of 2017 and into 2018, we will take another look at our vision, mission and ministry. There are already whispers about “what next?” in terms of further improvements to our facilities. How can we build on the connections we’ve already made in the wider community? Do we want to create more intentional connections at the University of Calgary and if so, in what way? Where do we want to put our focus, our energy, our resources? These are some of the questions we will address in coming year.
May the “ordinary time” of growth in the Spirit of God that we enter today bring us much joy and challenge in the coming months. May the truly multi-generational community of Christian disciples growing here at St. Andrew’s continue to know God’s great blessing.
In the hope of Christ, The Rev. Christine Conkin