Some time back, our Treasurer and Sr. Warden both asked me (separately) how I would feel about a celebration to mark the tenth anniversary of my ministry here at St. Mary’s. That celebration will take place this coming Saturday, December 7, the exact date of my tenth anniversary here.
Naturally, an event like this has me doing some reflecting, praying and pondering. There is so much to celebrate, much to look back on in wonder and amazement, and yet there is still much to do.
I see this as a celebration of what the people of St. Mary’s and I done together these past ten years, so while it’s my anniversary, it’s also in a sense our anniversary. We are a parish with a vision of hospitality and evangelism. Woven into the very DNA of this community is a decided lack of ‘turf-ism’, which is something that can be lethal in a congregational setting. I recall leaders in the parish telling me in 2003, “We have enough to pay a full-time priest for two, maybe three years. We believe God is calling us to grow. We’re definitely not called to mere survival – we feel called to share the Good News and to thrive.” I am grateful that Gina encouraged me to say “yes” to the invitation, when it was offered, to be your priest. In the past ten years, some pretty amazing things have taken place here thanks to the grace of God at work in our midst. Since that first Sunday on December 7, 2003, we have:
- quadrupled in size
- added many new ministries in our parish and enhanced existing ones
- added our large sign on the corner of 18 & 67
- bought the land we had been leasing from the Masonic Lodge
- added a part-time Music Director
- added the ministry of Deacon Chuck to our parish
- built a new church
- mentored over ten (and counting) seminarians
- started development of an outdoor worship area on our riverfront
- found new and creative ways to practice outreach
- grown in our understanding and practice of Christian Stewardship
- Created a vibrant and growing ministry to the youth in our community
- Added worship services for area nursing care centers
And the list could go on. I am so grateful to Deacon Chuck, Annette and Carrie for their hard work and support. It’s a blessing to be here.
All of this is possible because of our willingness as a parish to grow in faith and share the Good News of Christ. I share the prayer of St. Ignatius of as I reflect on this ten year anniversary: Lord, for all that has been, thank you. For all that will be, yes!