You know, I think of myself as a person of deep faith, but truly, honestly, if you would have told me four years ago that we would be where we are today in terms of membership, clarity of mission, finances, enthusiasm, lay and clergy leadership, and yes, joy, I would not have believed you! It appears that the Lord is richly blessing our work and our faithfulness, and we are seeing glimpses of the first fruits of our diligent labor.
We believe our membership is growing. Over the past two years we may have gained more than 500 new members! Now let’s remember that these numbers have been accumulated by human hands, and so it isn’t time to throw the party just yet, but if this is in any way accurate, it means we have grown by as much as a parish the size of St. John’s, Wichita.
This increase in membership remains to be confirmed, and it will have to continue for several more years to be a clear trend, but I believe a sustained focus on membership and growth will result in a sustained increase in membership and growth.
It appears that this growth has happened in both large and small parishes, and it has happened primarily through the efforts of strong local leadership and good old-fashioned “elbow grease”: more contacts, more phone calls, more visits, meaningful worship, effective education for children and youth, a clear commitment to mission and outreach, and clear and intentional programs for incorporating newcomers into the life of the parish family.
Our campus ministries program is booming! You will hear more about it from the missioners themselves, but a key component of our shared ministry has finally fallen into place. Craig Loya and Susan Terry have visited 26 parishes, and we have now have 14 peer ministers working on six campuses ”“ Johnson County Community College, Emporia State, Wichita State and Labette County Community College, along with our ongoing ministries at Kansas State and the University of Kansas.
Conversations have begun with 12 additional parish partners, and there isn’t a parish in this diocese that couldn’t establish a link with a local college, university or community college in the next year.
Our youth ministries program is booming! Our success on college campuses owes a great deal to the work being done at the junior and senior high level by Chad Senuta and a committed cadre of volunteers and young interns. Youth ministry cannot happen without faithful adults who love kids, and in the past year Chad has been working to establish an advocacy program, so that every parish has a least one adult who serves as an advocate for youth, whether that parish has any youth or not. Most of our parishes have responded, but there is still an opportunity for the few churches that still need to appoint a youth advocate.
Our stewardship and planned giving is growing! Char DeWitt and the Stewardship and Development Committee have developed a quality, “turn-key” stewardship program that any parish in the diocese can put to use, and they are in the process of developing an excellent planned giving program of the same quality. Char has conducted more than 15 vestry workshops and has made more than 100 visits with vestries, priests and stewardship chairs.
This is all great work ”“ extraordinary, really ”“ but I have a dream, that what we do here in this moment in time will be truly great. I have a dream that on our watch, during our period of responsibility for this church, we will set a standard that will make future generations look back at our faithfulness with the same respect and awe we now express for the faithfulness of previous generations in this diocese. I dream that we will truly put out into the deep, that we will refuse to settle for a mediocre vision, a pale imitation of the real thing.
Read it all.