From the Annual Meeting January 27, 2019
I have been laying out the challenge to institutional church
over the past months and now I am asked to give concrete hope for our position.
There are no quick fixes or sure measures we can take it that guarantees the
existence of St Mark’s as we know it.
Indeed that is the key - we are always moving, changing if we are growing and alive to the spirit of God. But I firmly believe we have all we need right here - we have our relationships within the context of community. And these two: relationship and community is where we can continue to grow. Last week Fr Jim said ”it’s all about relationships”, and I agree.
It is through our relationship we work out our faith: how we love as God loves, how we love God and neighbor - that’s what we are about here. You could say that faith community is the very thing the world needs most right now and yet the last thing it thinks it needs! You can’t become a full on follower of Jesus in complete isolation, and you can’t do it if you are perpetually busy, going non stop, dedicated to works - however good those works are. We need community in which to learn to tell our story and hear the stories of Jesus’ life and teaching - and then to integrate the two. That’s the hard part!
To that end I am going to propose to the new Vestry we instate a 3 year program teaching people about the way of Jesus in the Episcopal tradition. And I would insist that this be an in person as well as on line or at home resource and that all existing members get involved with it as well as being a pre-requisite for new members.
Increased social activities, such as foyer dinners, lunches and coffee mornings are also important to foster community.
A lot of energy is going into our Day School right now. Not only do we need to have a capital campaign to raise funds for buildings so we can meet fire regulations - including a reunion gala function for former Day School families - we are also investing time and energy in building relationships with the Day School families thru engaging events and services. It is my aim that from the fall we make one Sunday a month a Family Service at 10.15 - the first half hour will be designed to be specifically for families of young children and then after an extended Peace in which families can leave those who want to remain for communion will do so.
So, as a community we can grow - we can grow as people in relationship, as people learning about the way of Jesus, as people of prayer, as people serving our community. This is what I mean by being an intentional community - shooting from the ‘drop in’ style of church that suits “my needs” to an intentional commitment on the part of each member to be involved in all parts of the Christian life through St Mark’s. When we are truly committed to all the parts of the Christian life - and not just the bits that I like best - we will be in the Spirit and we will grow. So my appeal to you is that our hope is in us - let’s commit to the Christian life, to learning, growing, sharing, praying, worshiping: being fun loving community.
The Rev. David Gibbons +