This January began my 6th year as rector of St. Francis Episcopal Church. Including my associate time, I have been with you for about 7 ½ years. When I am asked to describe what this parish is like by colleagues and those seeking a place to become part of, I say you are wonderful, gentle, and forgiving people who will let me go off on tangents and down rabbit holes and then gently bring me back.
This year as you will be able to tell from the theme of our annual meeting, I would like us to focus on the diocesan mission statement, “We challenge ourselves and the world to love like Jesus as we worship joyfully, serve compassionately, and grow spiritually.” So as the rector of this church, I must ask myself and gather from you, how do we think we are we doing?
First, Let’s talk about where we are now against where we were last year. The young adult group has more than doubled in numbers, with three of its members now serving on the vestry and three as chairs of ministries. There are 12 youth consistently coming to church with three more to be added this summer. We were a beta testing site for The Beloved Community using the newly developed Dismantling Racism curriculum for youth by the diocese and the kids loved it.
We are still very much involved in Weekend Lunch, highly respected by Sr. Theresa at Daybreak because of our member’s work there and we still support Loaves and Fishes, Daybreak , Macon Volunteer Clinic, Haitian Hope Inc., and Path to Shine. We also supported ERD (Episcopal Relief and Development) this year in responding to the hurricane relief drive.
As far as worship, the 6 pm Sunday service has doubled, still small, but is growing. Morning Prayer is growing in numbers. The main services and the early Sunday service are holding their own and we still have visitors every Sunday. The evangelism committee will guide us in being even more welcoming.
We began the year with a $38K deficit and through your generosity, we ended the year with a small surplus. We have a new roof on every building on this campus. The vestry has not retreated from wanting to build a new building, after the diocese said we couldn’t borrow, but was instead bolstered to want to have a new dialogue with the diocese on borrowing because we ARE going to build!
Ecumenically we have celebrated Advent with St. Peter Claver and shared youth group time with the Presbyterians. We have strengthened our bonds in our interfaith community as well by hosting the Iman of the local mosque and hosting “The Footsteps of Abraham”, an interfaith clergy group who meet to celebrate what we have in common and to understand our differences. We have hosted the Women's Interfaith Alliance of Central Georgia as well. I see nothing on the horizon that won’t allow us to do even more in Worshiping joyfully, Serving compassionately, and Growing spiritually in 2018. God has been good and Faithful to God’s people who share in the community of St. Francis in Macon.