The Annual Report of the Priest in Charge for 2012
At the beginning of his ministry Jesus chose a passage from the prophet Isaiah to summarize what he was going to be about,
In his brief time on earth, Jesus was able to accomplish all of that. When he was lifted up from the earth he left behind a small group of friends with whom he had shared his knowledge of the love of God. He involved the disciples in his work, while preparing them to continue after he left them. But he did not leave them alone. He left behind a part of himself, the Holy Spirit, to guide and support them. From that small mismatched group of people, and thanks in a large part to the evangelizing of St. Paul, the church has spread around the world. From a small group of 12, the Christian community has grown into a worldwide religion which is estimated to have around 2.1 billion followers. If you think the history of Christianity has been smooth, think again, yet despite the challenges and conflicts the Holy Spirit has managed to keep the light of Christ burning brightly in the world. It burns in each individual member and in the body itself. St. Paul in his First Letter to the Church in Corinth uses the human body to symbolize the Christian Community. Every part of the body, no matter how small, is necessary to the body as a whole.
In the scheme of things, Church of St. Augustine and St. Martin is a tiny part of the body of Christ, yet as St. Paul reminds us, that doesn’t matter. We share in the work of bringing the Good News to all people, particularly the poor and the marginalized. The ministry we engage in can be loosely divided into 5 areas
The Ministry of Outreach: Our Service to Others
Outreach – Under the leadership of Hazel Briceno and with the help of many others, our Outreach work continues to center around a few programs. This year as in the past we supported Children of Incarcerated Parents through the Backpack Program, providing school supplies for more than 20 children. We also gave backpacks to children in our afterschool program. In 2012 we held our Soup and Coat Giveaway in February and December. We had some success in welcoming several people from shelters and homelessness programs. I think our real growth was in the hospitality we showed to them. Carole Simon was particularly helpful in this effort. As I said in December, it seemed more like a bunch of friends getting together to eat and talk, rather than the “haves” giving to the “have-nots.” Our relationship with Ecclesia Ministries expanded. Beyond giving them office space free of charge and hats and gloves for Christmas, this past summer for the first time, a group from our parish worshipped with the homeless and formerly homeless at Common Cathedral. We also provided lunch for about 75 people.
Christian Nurture and Formation – Keitra Waterman, Brenda Fergus and Beverley Graham headed up the Sunday School, with Miecha Harrison and others assisting. For her years of faithful service Brenda will be receiving the Frederick Douglass Isaac’s Parish Leadership award at the Union of Black Episcopalians Absalom Jones Day Celebration in February. Miecha Harrison and Ebony Chandler served as Youth Representatives to the Vestry. This past summer was the second time we held “Father Thayer’s Summer Bible Challenge” this year focusing on the Psalms. Over 20 people participated. The B-SAFE Program met for five weeks of the summer providing learning and fun activities to 60 children and employment to 12 teens. Keitha Hassell coordinated our week of providing lunches and snacks for the children. The B-READY Program continues to provide afterschool activities and tutoring to around 40 elementary aged children and recently several people from the congregation volunteered to be part of the Generations Inc. tutoring program during B-READY. Social events at the church in 2012 included Homecoming and the Mardi Gras Pancake Brunch. Barbara Dewey has faithfully managed Coffee Hour with the assistance of the Vestry and has provided hospitality whenever needed.
Pastoral Care – With the assistance of Lay Eucharistic Visitors we have continued to take communion to members of the congregation who could not come to church. We are in the processing of recruiting others to assist in this important ministry. A Prayer list was published each month so those who have asked for intercession can be prayed for on a regular basis by the entire congregation. We also published a directory to assist members of the congregation in reaching out each other.
Financial Stewardship – 2012 was the most financially challenging year I have experienced in my 7 plus year as pastor of this congregation. We had a good tenant for 10 months, but they chose not to renew their lease when it expired and we were faced with finding a new tenant to take their place. Pledging was down significantly over the previous year and a particularly large pledge was not honored. We fell further behind in our assessments to the diocese and with our Stokes Loan payments. We are hoping to catch up when we receive the bequest from Mr. Bennett’s estate. Our fundraising activities also fell short of the mark. As chair of the Fundraising Committee, Marilyn Marion has already begun to look at larger fundraising activities for 2013. Our 100th Anniversary Appeal wrapped up in April and shortly afterwards the parish participated in the Together Now campaign for the diocese. Over $23,000 in pledges was raised by this congregation in a short period of time. We owe Austin Layne a debt of gratitude for all his hard work as Treasurer of this parish. Sarah Johnson, our bookkeeper has been extremely important to our financial security.
Building Stewardship – Under the watchful eye of Anthony Johns, our Junior Warden, we have done much to improve the condition of our buildings and systems. A major project was the complete renovation of our kitchens. We no longer have to be embarrassed to have company in the kitchen! The undercroft bathrooms were upgraded with new sinks that help us reduce our water use. Programmable thermostats have also been added. Tony also coordinated full assessment of our buildings to prepare us for the next phase of renovations. He will share some highlights of the assessment during the Annual Meeting.
For such a small part of the body, we accomplished a tremendous amount in 2012. We have Senior Warden, Roberta Hoke, to thank for her leadership of the Vestry over the past several years. I am very encouraged to watch the next generations of our parish begin to take on leadership roles.
Before I close, I want to remind this congregation what a truly beautiful and remarkable community you are! Yesterday’s funeral for Phyllis Freeman was one more example of how
I would be remiss in not praising James Carter, our custodian for his many years of watching over us. Lillian Corbin, our Parish Administrator, is a source of encouragement and energy in my work here. I would be lost without her.
Finally I would like us to take a moment to remember those members of our community who we laid to rest in 2012: Stanley E. Richardson, Robert St. Clair Isaacs, Elvis Lenox Waterman, and Ina Elizabeth Fergus Anderson. May their souls and the souls of all the departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. We take comfort that through Baptism we have added to the community of faith Kaiden Allan Taylor and Teygan Hartley Johns.
May God continue to call us deeper into relationship with Him as we strive to be God’s heart and hands in the world. Amen.