Welcome to the New Year! That statement alone is not entirely true because in the church, the New Year began in December. In truth, many of us have various dates on our personal calendars that mark “anniversaries”. Though the church year begins liturgically with the First Sunday in Advent, we also have new beginnings with the start of programming in the fall and again at the time of the annual report and election of new vestry members. It is the latter of those to that I write about today.
In January 2014, the vestry began the year gaining our footing as to the budget and to life in leadership together. It has been amazing to be part of what has transpired within Grace over the past year. While we have much to be pleased about with regarding the growth in stewardship, it is the work of the Holy Spirit regarding growth in our hearts that has me excited as we begin 2015!
As a vestry, we came together to work on a number of new ventures. 2014 saw a wide variety of fundraisers initiated that, though the dollars raised were not enormous, the camaraderie and learning that transpired was vital towards developing new techniques for 2015. The vestry retreat in the fall also brought us together in a new way and enabled us to focus on the spiritual well-being of Grace and the desire to share in outreach to our community. It is this desire to grow Grace’s outreach that the Spirit is currently hard at work to foster.
That’s not to say that there hasn’t been outreach or that there haven’t been those who have been hungry for outreach. As a runner, I know the importance of a healthy body that has been properly nourished, exercised, and trained in order to run the race. No matter how much I desire to run the race, if I’m sick or am not properly prepared for it, I’m not going to be successful. Over the course of the past three years, I’ve seen the Holy Spirit hard at work in the hearts of Grace to nourish and exercise the Body of Christ towards outreach. We are much healthier in so many ways than we were three years ago.
That is where I find myself today…I am SO excited for the year ahead! At the beginning of 2014, I said that I wouldn’t put my name forward as senior warden for a third term because of my role as a delegate to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church; the demands leading up to it in June 2015 would not allow me to do both justice this coming year. Today, I am SO excited to see the direction the leadership of Grace is headed towards building our parish spiritually, reaching out to others, and growing our Body. What an amazing time!! I’m sorry my term is ending, but I KNOW that the Holy Spirit is guiding Grace and taking us where we are need to go in order to move the Kingdom of God forward.
We do not do it alone. We need one another. “We do ministry together.” You’ve heard me use those words time and again in this column and in conversation. These words become more true each day. With Father Karl’s guidance, we are seeing a parish where the rector guides and trains us up to use our God given gifts to reach out to those who are in need of the Good News of God’s grace bestowed on them. We are each in ministry in our daily lives.
Where this coming year will take us, only God knows. Isn’t that marvelous!?! He already knows where we will go, who we will meet, and what we will do. “ Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,” Hebrews 12:1-2a. Thanks be to God that we, looking to Christ, have a direction in which to run!