Since we stopped gathering in person in March, I have been focused on the present and the future. It just occurred to me that I’ve been with you for one year and that half of that year has been during this pandemic. So, I thought I’d look back to see what has happened at St. Martin’s during the last six months.
The staff helped me make the following list of accomplishments in the parish:
- The Regathering Team was organized and has met weekly to develop plans and work out solutions.
- We created and implemented surveys to plan both for the present and future.
- We developed alternative ways of gathering online including Sunday worship, Morning Prayer, meetings, Christian formation, and coffee hour.
- Two Eagle Scout projects have been completed benefiting missions of the parish – The Good News Garden (complete with drip irrigation system) to provide fresh produce for 4Saints Food Pantry and a rock border for the Labyrinth and the path to it.
- The Good News Garden Team is being formed to tend the garden and harvest the produce.
- Our Lenten Outreach Project raised $700 for shoe that grows.
- We instituted Drive-in Worship with a safe way to administer Holy Communion.
- Eucharistic Visitors resumed their ministry and are sent out every Sunday to take the Sacrament to those unable to attend in person.
- Joe Henry joined our staff and has helped to keep music ministry going. The choir meets virtually every Wednesday evening.
- Father Chris Thomas completed his curacy and was called to St. Thomas the Apostle in Dallas.
- Paula Jefferson was ordained to the Diaconate and began her curacy with us in June.
- The yearly audit of financial records was completed in July.
- Contributions have been on or ahead of plan, even through the month of August!
- We were able to have one Discovery Weekend (Catechism) class just before the quarantine.
- We had a wedding.
- 23 new members were added to the rolls in the past year.
- We applied for and received a PPP loan, which we expect to be forgiven before the end of the year.
- The Stewardship Committee has met regularly and has recruited members to provide testimonials, carried out the necessary mailings, and made plans for Consecration Sunday on October 4. (Rsvp if you have not already done so!)
- Children’s Sunday School has been meeting regularly on Zoom.
- Our school was able to switch to online classes and chapel for the last two months of the school year and our wonderful teachers did an amazing job navigating students through the early days of the pandemic.
- A friend of St. Martin’s has given us a Steinway upright piano, which will be placed in the Choir Loft.
- Outreach continued for 4Saints Food Pantry, including donations of $647 in August. Much of that came via a virtual “Red Envelope” offering.
- Chuck Ambrose stepped in to be our A/V guru, leading us to increase our A/V capabilities.
- Our parish hall was made available for a memorial for a member of the community
- Holy Mowers have continued to keep the campus looking great.
- The Memorial Garden is being maintained.
- The Rector Search Committee has continued to move forward in the process that will ultimately lead to the call of a new spiritual leader for St. Martin’s. A parish-wide survey was conducted in June and Holy Conversations took place in August, both providing important insights for the development of a parish profile soon to be released.
- The Labyrinth was resurfaced.
- Meals and gift boxes were delivered to the Band of Moms members.
- A prayer shawl and ornament from Prayer Shawl Ministry and a Starbucks gift card from the Band of Moms was delivered to new member Kate Szprengiel and baby Victoria
- The Quiet Committee continues to be helpful to those in need.
- The Pastoral Care Commission has been very active, especially in staying in touch with members by phone.
- A Helping Hands ministry was organized to run errands and do small projects for others as needed.
- Most of our ministry groups continue to meet by Zoom.
- The School Board put many hours and great care into the very difficult decision of closing the school.
- Seven commissions formed at the beginning of the year have been meeting and continuing their work in the parish.
Endeavors that are underway or soon to happen (I couldn't help myself) include:
- A music room in the Parish Hall to support and build the Choir.
- When we regather, musicians in the parish will be invited to share their music.
- The Lectionary Study group will resume virtually on September 20.
- An adult Christian formation study will begin in October - "Human Flourishing" – What is flourishing? What gets in the way of flourishing?
- Parents of our youth are meeting with the Christian Formation Commission to find the way forward for youth ministry.
- Outreach will continue with Red Bags for 4Saints families and the Angel Tree to provide Christmas gifts for children.
- Virtual Discovery Classes for those who wish to explore their relationship with God and The Episcopal Church will be held later in the fall and in the spring.
- God willing and the people consenting, Paula Jefferson will be ordained to the Sacred Order of Priests in the coming months.
I do realize that neither the list of accomplishments nor the list of good things to come are complete. But they are remarkable in light of the fact that we are operating under such unusual conditions, aren’t they?
When we say, “The buildings may be closed, but the Church is open” we truly mean it!
Thanks to everyone for your prayers, your patience, your gifts, your flexibility, and your commitment to discovering new ways to be the Church. May God continue to give us the grace to persevere.
“…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).
The Very Rev'd Ron Pogue
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church