When I look back over the past several months I am ever thankful. I am thankful for the foundation laid from all the past leaders of St. John of the Cross and pray that I will be a faithful leader. I am thankful for this parish, for all who serve this parish in so many ways. I am thankful for each and every member of St. John of the Cross Episcopal Church for you are the ministers of this parish. You are the body of Christ, You are the saints. We are called to serve and through this serve we experience the cost of discipleship. Discipleship asks much from us. Yet we serve with a glad heart.
I have been in ordained ministry since March of 1999. My work has always been in part-time ministry. It is my calling. At each parish I take what I have learned and apply to the next assignment. If ministry is to be sustainable it must involve laity and priest. My goal as part time priest is to assist you in the ministry of the parish.
Being a bi-vocational priest, I am being more realistic about what I can do and what I can’t do. The choice not to do an 8 am service was hard and painful. It was hoped that we would all come and worship together at one service. Some stayed, some chose to worship elsewhere. I pray that all have found a parish home.
Being a family size parish we don’t have capability to do many things but we can expand on what we do best. It is better to focus on the one or two things we do well. What is our mission? Whatever that mission is it must be authentic. It must be real. What is in the future of St. John of the Cross? Let’s dream big for the future! Come Holy Spirit wash over us! What programs would You, Lord have happen here?
There is much talk about parish growth. When we speak of church growth one immediately thinks of numbers. But church growth is more than just numbers. In fact when I think of church growth it is not about numbers what so ever. A church can grow up…here the term ‘up’ would mean numerically. A church can also grow down. However here the term ‘down’, does not refer to numbers but rather to spiritual growth. A church can grow deeper in relationship with Jesus Christ. A church can also grow out. In growing ‘out’ a church broadens its horizons through outreach.
Our focus must always be in growing down and growing out. For when we focus on these two aspects the church will grow up.
So I ask the question: How might we grow in the coming year?
It is my hope we grow deeper in relationship with Jesus Christ; that we reach our farther than we have. I pray, Jesus working through us, will do something new and amazing.
I also want to extend my thanks to the vestry for those who have served and given of their time. To Sharon, Sr. Warden, and Dave, Jr. Warden, to Jerry and Judy Thank you for all your hard work and long hours behind the scenes to keep this parish going.
How could we function without the many volunteers? Thank you to those who serve in the office, as Lay Readers, Lay Eucharistic ministers, greeters, coffee hour ministry, acolytes, altar guild, musicians, tellers, outreach ministry, and prayer ministry. Thank you to all those who serve behind the scenes I may have missed. Your willingness to humbly serve is so essential to the life of the parish. Thank you.
Let us continue to be in prayer for this parish. Let us be open to the where the Holy Spirit might take us. Let us be ready to answer God’s call. I look forward to the journey with you all.
With my deepest gratitude for all that you do and all that you are, I am…
Yours in Christ.
Rev. Carol +
Let us pray: Dear Lord may You find this parish, St. John of the Cross, precious in Your sight. May we come with open hearts to serve You with all that we are and all that we have. May we have eyes open to see where You lead us and ears to hear You call us. Give us the courage to trust and follow You where ever You lead and the boldness to do whatever it takes so that others may know the saving grace of the cross of Christ. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our savior, our Lord. Amen