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Rector's Repot to Vestry 2017

RECTOR’S REPORT to VESTRY 2017

 

  In Bishop Linda’s pastoral letter to Vestry she said that her dream for the diocese is that every parish be a healthy and vibrant community living out their baptismal promises and demonstrating the five marks of mission.

The Five Marks of Mission are:

• To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.

• To teach, baptize and nurture new believers.

• To respond to human need by loving service.

• To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.

• To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

These five statements are at the heart of who we are called to be and what our ministry should be about at St. Jude’s as we seek to be a vibrant community living and loving in Christian service. The Annual Vestry Meeting is an opportunity to reflect on the past year of ministry and activities and to do some visioning of where God might be calling us to go as a Church in the year ahead. This year I would encourage us to approach our Vestry meeting with a particular focus on how we have already been living out these five marks of mission and where there is room for us to more fully engage them.

Worship

We seek to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom in all that we do. I think the most visible ways that we do this is through our ministry of outreach, pastoral care and the worship that we offer. Sunday worship at St. Jude’s is passionate, sacramental, Christ centred and joyful. It is my hope that as we gather together in this place for worship each week, that we remain committed and passionate about proclaiming the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and inviting people to discover the difference this can make in their lives.

It is encouraging to note that our average Sunday attendance has increased over the past year. We have had 15-20 new families/individuals feel welcomed and loved at St. Jude’s and choose to make this their church home and worshipping community. I am thankful that we consciously make an effort to ensure that the liturgy we are offering is accessible to new comers, especially those who might not have any previous experience with Church or

public worship. By projecting the liturgy digitally on a screen we make it easier for people to follow along with the flow of the worship service.

In the coming year I would like to see us take greater advantage of the fact that we offer two worship opportunities on a Sunday morning. Rather than offering essentially the same liturgy experience at two different times, I would like to see us offer a distinct worship experience at each service. There

are many different ways that this distinction could be made. One example is that a service of Morning Prayer could be offered at 8:30 followed by the celebration of Holy Eucharist at 10:00. Another example is that the Eucharist could be celebrated using a more traditional liturgy at 8:30 and then a more

Contemporary Eucharist service at 10:00.

There are two reasons why I am considering such a change. First, offering two distinct services on a Sunday morning provides more choice for parishioners apart from the choice mainly being about the service time. The second reason is that it does not make sense to celebrate the same liturgy twice on a Sunday morning when we could just as easily gather together as a whole parish family to worship and celebrate together. I am not at this time advocating that we move to having only one service on a Sunday morning, but rather that we give some thought as to how we can best use the two services we are currently offering to provide greater liturgical diversity.

I would also like to see us restore the ministry of servers and crucifers at St. Jude’s. I believe that this ministry not only adds an element of reverence to our worship but also functions as a symbolic reminder of our own call to Christian service. While being a server is a great way for our younger

members to become actively involved, this ministry is open to anyone. Please, let me know if you are willing to participate in getting this ministry started at St. Jude’s.

The word liturgy means the work of the people and that is certainly true at St. Jude’s. It takes many people offering their time and their talents to make possible the quality of liturgy that allows us to sing out our joyful praise to God. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the many groups and

individuals for your generosity and dedication to our worship services. The Chancel Guild prepares the sanctuary for worship each week. Christina and the Choir lead us in singing out our beautiful songs of praise. The Lay Readers proclaim the gospel, set the table and take on many other responsibilities as requested. Rosalie produces the bulletin each week. We have readers, intercessors, Eucharistic assistants, operators of the digital screen and greeters who all contribute to the liturgy that is offered in this place. Your gift of time and talent allows St. Jude’s to be a place where all people can gather to hear

the good news and the love of Jesus Christ proclaimed.

Christian Education

At St. Jude’s we are committed to teaching, baptizing and nurturing the faith of all believers. In 2016 we supported five families as they presented their children to receive the sacrament of Baptism. During the March Break we held a week long Confirmation programme in which five individuals participated and later received the Sacrament of Confirmation at a Deanery celebration held at the end of May at St. James’ Westminster. In 2017 we will once again be offering a First Communion Class to prepare our youngest members to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Michelle Davis and her faithful team of teachers continue to teach and nurture the faith of our children and young people during Sunday worship each week. This year we have moved to having our children and young people gather with the whole parish family for the beginning of worship and then

head out to Sunday School following the Collect of the Day and a special prayer for them. It is my hope that this will allow our children to become comfortable and familiar with Anglican worship. It also provides the opportunity for our whole parish family to gather together to give praise and thanks to God.

We are also committed to teaching and nurturing the faith of adults as well. We have studied a couple of books together, including N.T. Wright’s “Simply Christian” and Patricia Bay’s “This Anglican Church of Ours”. We also offered seasonal Bible Studies throughout the year. Most recently we gathered to study the Advent lectionary readings from the book of Isaiah. As I write this report, we are encouraging members of our church family to participate in a weekly Bible Study that is being offered by the Deanery of London. Early in 2016 a number of people from St. Jude’s attended an interfaith symposium on the Assisted Dying legislation, which came into effect this year.

St. Jude’s also serves as a host site for a programme called Education for Ministry. This is a four-year programme of theological education for lay people where participants learn about Scripture, church history, theology and ethics to deepen their faith and to help them live out a vibrant baptismal

ministry in the church and in the world. We have two members from St. Jude’s who are participating in this programme and are finding it to be a rewarding experience.

Outreach

We respond to human need by loving service in so many ways at St. Jude’s. Whether it’s the food that we collect for the Daily Bread food bank, the financial support that we offer in support of Refugee Sponsorship, the giving of our time to partner with another congregation and serve at a

community meal, or donations to the Rector’s Discretionary Fund so that we can support those who come through our doors carrying heavy burdens, we are committed to being the hands and feet of Jesus. It is through these actions we offer an expression of God’s grace and love to those who are hurting and struggling.

I want to share an example of the generosity and the commitment of this church family to reaching out with an expression of God’s love to those in need. During the Advent season I invited members of the congregation to consider putting a grocery card on the offering plate that would be used

to support those in our church family who might find Christmas a particularly difficult time from a financial perspective and to support the wider community throughout the rest of the year. In a few short weeks thanks to the commitment and generosity of this church family we were able to send out over $500 dollars worth of grocery cards to members of our congregation and we have an additional $600 dollars worth of cards to use as an expression of God’s love throughout the rest of the year. If there is a particular need this congregation is extravagantly generous in responding to it. That is a great reputation to have.

We are blessed with a faithful and hardworking group of people who have been entrusted with the responsibility of empowering the whole congregation to get involved in supporting the ministry of reaching out with God’s love. I would like to thank Shirley Lawrence and all the members of this group

who work so hard to encourage us as a church family to make the third mark of mission an absolute priority at St. Jude’s. In this regard a big thank you must also be extended to Cherie Laughlin and all who give of their time to support the ministry of the Nearly New Shop where all proceeds go to support

the various outreach projects we are involved with.

In our commitment to those in need we are also beginning to engage the fourth mark of mission, which is to seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation. We have a number of people from our church family who represent

St. Jude’s as part of a community working group that is committed to ensuring that basic needs such as food, housing and security are available to everyone. Our ongoing support to the work of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund is also an expression of our commitment to this mark of ministry.

There is however room to strengthen our commitment to this particular mark of ministry. We have the ability to us our collective voice to petition all levels of government to advocate for those who are victimized by decisions that get made and policies that get approved. We have the ability to choose how we use our collective spending power, to not support companies that act in unethical ways and to reward companies that do with our business.

Prayer and Pastoral Care

We also respond to human need by loving service through the ministry of prayer and pastoral care. We are blessed under the leadership of Sharon Frank with a faithful group of people who are committed to praying and caring for the various needs of our church family and their loved ones.

As your Priest and Rector I am absolutely committed to praying for you and to being pastorally present with you in all circumstances of your life. If you have something to celebrate in your life please be sure to let me know because I want to celebrate with you and give thanks to God. If you are going

through a difficult and challenging time please be sure to let me know because I want to pray for you and be present with you as an expression of God’s love.

Stewardship of Creation

As Christians we believe that God has entrusted us with the responsibility of striving to safeguard the integrity of creation, and to sustain and renew the life of the earth. In fact the wider Church feels so strongly about this particular mark of mission that it is now included as one of the promises that is made at Baptism. I would like to encourage our church family to establish a “stewards of creation” committee that would be entrusted with the responsibility of deepening our efforts to living out this mark of mission. My hope is that through this group we can work towards strengthening our

efforts at recycling and conservation, encourage the congregation to participate in community opportunities such as clean up days, or tree planting events, and to organize, in consultation with the Rector, worship opportunities throughout the year with a particular emphasis on this mark of mission.

Financial Stewardship Programme

We spent some intentional time in 2016 focussing on what the Christian faith has to say about what we are called to do with our money, how we use our time and where we direct our talents. One of the reasons we committed to participating in a six-week financial stewardship programme is because we were looking at a fairly substantial short-fall. The good news is that we chose not to be overwhelmed by the amount of that projected short-fall ($40,000) but rather decided as a congregation to trust that God working in and through each one of us really can do infinitely more than we could ask or

imagine. We spent time reflecting on all of the life-giving ministries that happen in this place because the bills get paid. This time of reflection offered us the opportunity to change how we view the budget. Rather than simply seeing a list of financial expenses that must get paid like heating, hydro, insurance or salaries we started to realize that by paying these expenses we are actually investing in the ministries that we are passionate about at St. Jude’s. Each member of the congregation was asked to prayerfully reflect on the ministries that excite them and were then encouraged to be extravagantly generous in their financial support of those ministries they are passionate about. Each member was encouraged to follow the biblical model of being a proportional giver and asked to consider adopting 3% of income as a starting percentage for their financial support to the church. All members of the congregation were asked to complete a pledge sheet indicating their intended financial offering to support ministry in 2017.

I was absolutely overwhelmed by the positive response to this stewardship programme. I would like to thank each one of you for the love you have for this church and for your commitment to seeing St. Jude’s continue to grow into its full potential of being a vibrant community in faithful Christian service.

Thanks to the generosity of all our members we have a pledged increase of financial commitment for 2017 of approximately $40,000. This means that we are now in the position to present a realistic balanced budget of the ministry God is calling us to in the coming year. God working in us really can do

more than we can ask or imagine.

Financial Position

While we have experienced an extremely generous increase in financial commitment to fund the ministry God is calling us to be engaged with in the coming year and beyond, the reality is that we still ended 2016 with a planned yet sizeable shortfall. In addition to this financial shortfall that we

experienced in our operating budget for 2016 we are also carrying an interest free loan of close to $65,000 as of the beginning of the year. It is my understanding that this loan represents an accumulation of missed mortgage payments over a number of years from when the Church was not in a financial position to repay. The mortgagees generously agreed to extend a short-term interest free loan until such time that the congregation was in a financial position to resume regular mortgage payments. St. Jude’s is now in a such a position that we are able to resume regular mortgage payments, but we also have a responsibility to catch up on the payments that were missed over the past number of years. St. Jude’s, thanks to the generosity of all our members is now in a stable and viable financial position moving forward but in the year ahead it will be important to work towards eliminating our accumulative deficit which again is made up of the 2016 operating shortfall and the short term loan that represents the total of missed mortgage payments. By eliminating this accumulative deficit we will show that we are a congregation that lives with financial integrity and makes every effort to honour the financial commitments that we make. It will also allow us to look forward with hope rather than be constrained by the past. It was recommended at our Vestry meeting in November that we consider adding a line to the budget for 2017 dedicated to reducing our accumulative deficit. In addition to this action, the stewardship and finance committee will be tasked with the responsibility of exploring other ways that we might work to repay this debt.

Anglican Ministry in the City of London

It is important to always keep in mind that St. Jude’s is not an island unto itself; that we are part of a much wider Anglican Communion. This is certainly true in the Deanery of London. St. Jude’s is one of approximately 25 Anglican churches in the city of London and surrounding area. These other

congregations are not to be seen as our competition but rather they are our partners in ministry. It is becoming increasingly apparent that in the coming years all of the Anglican churches in the city of London are going to have to work together in new and creative ways in order to live out the Five Marks

of Mission in more efficient and effective ways. The simple truth is that we have far more church buildings than we actually need in the city of London and that many of our congregations are having to put all of their energy and resources into simply maintaining these buildings and keeping the doors open,

which means there is often little energy or resources left to engage in other ministry opportunities. What partnerships could be formed that would free us from having to put all of our time and resources into caring for buildings and make it possible for us to more fully engage the way of Jesus and the Five

Marks of Mission? That is a conversation that Bishop Linda is encouraging all congregations in the city of London to have with neighbouring parishes; to explore ways that we might begin to partner with and support each other in the work of ministry. The extreme end of these conversations might be a full and complete amalgamation where one building gets closed and two congregations become one, but there are many other possibilities of how congregations can partner and support one another before arriving at such an extreme. Congregations might decide to work together on a particular outreach project. They might decide to gather together for joint Bible Studies or Christian Education Programmes. They might look for creative ways to share some of the financial costs of ministry such as sharing a Priest or Music leader between the two congregations and thus freeing up some resources for additional ministry. There are an infinite number of ways that the Anglican Churches in the city of London could partner and support one another in order to more efficiently and more effectively live out the Five Marks of Mission. It all begins with the willingness to have a conversation. It is my hope and my prayer that if and when such an opportunity presents itself that St. Jude’s will be a willing participant in such as conversation.

Associate Priest

It has been an absolutely incredible gift coming to St. Jude’s and having the opportunity to share priestly ministry with Matt Arguin. I have come to know Matt to be a prayerful and faithful priest. The love and support that he has offered to me as I seek to love and serve this church family has been an

incredible blessing. Throughout this past year Matt has shared fully in the sacramental and liturgical ministry of this parish. He has taken a regular turn in the preaching rotation. He has provided pastoral care in hospitals and long term care homes. He has helped to lead Christian Education programmes.

Thank you Matt for all that you do at St. Jude’s and for your love and friendship. I give thanks to God to have you as a partner in ministry.

A.C.W.

It was another successful year for the Anglican Church Women at St. Jude’s. The crafty ladies met each Wednesday, working hard creating treasures for our annual bazaar. The ladies worked hard throughout the year catering a number of meals, making pies, hosting card parties just to name a few of

their many activities. With the proceeds of these events they have been extremely generous in supporting the needs of the Church. When we lost two motors in our HVAC system due to an electricity surge the A.C.W. responded with financial support. When we needed to invest in a new phone system the A.C.W. responded with financial support. I would like to thank the ladies of the A.C.W. for their unwavering support and commitment. Each of you is a blessing and I give thanks to have been able to spend time with you throughout this past year.

Wardens and Staff

We are blessed with a dedicated and faithful group of wardens and staff at St. Jude’s. These individuals make this place work and run as smoothly and efficiently as it does. Derek, Sheila, Glenda and Jennifer thank you for all the hours of your time that you have given to serving as wardens in this

place. Rosalie, thank you for your unwavering love and commitment to your work and your Church. David, thank you for all the typing that goes into taking Minutes at meetings and keeping us informed through the weekly updates. Michelle, thank you for your dedication and love for our youngest

members. Christina, I’ve already said it earlier but thank you for sharing your gift and passion of music with our church family.

Additional Thank Yous

To those who greet, read, fix, teach, sing, play, pray, study, decorate, wash, iron, serve, collect, count, deliver or any other verb I can think of THANK-YOU for taking the call of our Lord seriously and offering your most precious gift, your self and your time.

Fr. Bill