It is this time of year that St. George’s gathers to look at the year past and to hold it up to the goals we set for ourselves. We also look ahead to the year ahead and set new goals to reach for. With this post, in my vestry report, and my vestry sermon, I do my best to reflect on the year past and look ahead with hope for the year that has already really begun. It is February already, as you know, and our vestry meeting is this coming Sunday, February 19th, following the 9:30 am service.
The year 2011 was yet another fulfilling year for me as your parish priest. St. George’s continues to be a place that is full of people who support the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ in our community. Because of the good folks here at St. George’s and your commitment in this goal, it continues to be an honour to help to lead you in this important work. This post is based closely on my written vestry report but I have included it here because the web allows me to add needed content and links to help every member of our community to see and celebrate just how far reaching the work we do in Christ’s name reaches.
The overarching structure of this post follows the Vision of the Diocese of Niagara, of which our parish is part of. Our Diocese of Niagara has been living out a new vision since 2008 and St. George’s has been doing its’ part to live it out here in Halton Hills. In 2011, the diocese took steps to help clarify and strengthen that vision. So, to help us understand better how our role plays its’ part in that bigger vision for Niagara, I have laid out the ministry we do together here in our community within that larger diocesan vision on this website and you can visit the overview page here and visit each part of the vision at its own page in full, but here is a summary of some of the new ministry we have begun in just the past year!
Continuous Culture of Innovation
In 2011, we at St. George’s have added three new ministries to reach out into our community and create opportunities for people to connect with Christ, with our Kid’s Camp PD Day programs, our Baby Talk group for new mothers, and by increasing our presence on the internet (you are here!) and social networks (twitter, facebook)with better digital communication. These are in addition to other recent innovations we continue to grow and develop like Messy Church, the Spirited Study and the Advent Breakfast Study. The good people at St. George’s are very supportive and trusting of new ideas and new ways to proclaim the good news and build community.
(Visit our full Continuous Culture of Innovation page here.)
Prophetic Social Justice Making
In 2011, St. George’s took two important new steps to speak for justice in our community and the world. At our 2011 Vestry meeting, St. George’s unanimously passed a motion supporting our diocese in its’ petition to recommend a provincial “Healthy Food Supplement” for all adults on Social Assistance. Also, more locally, I have been participating, on behalf of St. George’s, in community meetings about Youth Issues held in town and in and through those meetings I have liasoned with the local Public Health Nurse, administration from both High Schools, the local police, Open Door staff, students, and parents. These new initiatives are in addition to our continued support of the monthly Fresh Food Box program, bi-yearly Community Unity Clean Up days, and the daily Open Door youth drop-in centre. Your support and volunteering help makes a difference in the lives of others.
(visit our full Prophetic Social Justice Making page here.)
Generous Culture of Stewardship
Every year, St. George’s works hard to cultivate a generous spirit among its members in how they reflect God’s own generousness to us through their time, talent, and financial support of Christ’s mission in our community and the world. A perfect example of this in 2011 was the Time and Talent Auction that so wonderfully helped us to recognise and celebrate the skills and gifts that God has given us at St. George’s. We also benefitted from blessings of the Antique Appraisal Show, the Gourmet Dinner, the sale of some wonderful Spices, and the year round work of the Catering group. Previously, we met with Jim Newman, our Diocesan Stewardship Consultant, encouraging us in our year-round Stewardship to use more narrative ways to talk about our finances, to help people get beyond the numbers on a spreadsheet. We also continue share the cost and some other resources with the other local Anglican Church for running our successful VBS summer camp.
(visit our full Generous Culture of Stewardship page here.)
Life Changing Worship
Worship and liturgy is, not surprisingly, very central to our ministry at St. George’s. We are constantly striving to worship God in Christ and to make a difference in the lives of all who participate in that worship. At each and every service we offer, we hope people’s lives will be changed, just as our Diocesan Vision intends. An important part of our approach has been to offer a full menu of styles and times to choose from. There are scheduled services on Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings, Thursday mornings, and Friday mornings. We worship in styles ranging from very traditional at 8 am on Sunday Mornings to very contemporary at 11:15 am Sundays. St. George’s has services that meet the needs of seniors two Friday’s a month at the Bennett Health Centre and the needs of our community’s busy families at 5 pm on the second Wednesday of every month at Messy Church in our parish hall (complete with dinner!). All of these worship opportunities are made available with the hope of transforming the lives of those who worship with us and they are only made possible by St. George’s great volunteers and your support.
(visit our full Life Changing Worship page here.)
Outstanding Leadership for Ministry
St. George’s leadership understands the importance of both working together and working to grow in skill and ability. We are always looking for new ways to strengthen and improve our leadership abilities. In February 2011, The Rev’d Nancy Rowe attended the “International Consultation on Messy Church” held in Abingdon England. Nancy has also been working hard here in Canada promoting Messy Church putting on “Messy Fiestas” for folks interested in learning more about Messy Church. One of our important lay ministries at St. George’s is carried out by our Pastoral Care Team.
In 2011, two members of our parish, including our pastoral care team coordinator, Wendy Lovely, attended a seminar on pastoring to families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. St. George’s also continues to help provide a place for theological students to grow in their understanding of parish ministry, and we are currently enjoying the presence of Dan Cranley in this role. And lastly, in 2011, I was given the opportunity to take a two month sabbatical that included both study in the area of church development and a 10 day tour of Israel.
(visit our full Outstanding Leadership for Ministry page here.)
My Thanks and Looking Ahead
Well, I guess you can see why 2011 was so fulfilling for me at St. George’s! Together we have accomplished a lot and we have entered into some new and exciting ministry, much of which will be continuing in 2012.
I must take this moment to thank the leadership of the warden’s, Paul Skuriat, Ian Oldaker, Helen Vandermey, and Mark Kohler, for their leadership, time, talent and support. I would also like to thank Janet Armstrong for her work as our parish treasurer. These are just a few of the people who offer leadership to the work and ministry of St. George’s and all are deserving of your thanks and gratitude, but like the others, do their work for God’s glory.
I would also like to thank The Rev’d Nancy Rowe, for her continued caring ministry in our community, Sue Graham, our hard working Parish Administrative Assistant, Ron Greidanus our versatile and talented musical leader, Stephanie MacLean, for her nurture of our church school, and Dianna Cannon, for keeping things clean.
Most of all, thank you to all of you for your continued prayers and support of the work we do together in Christ’s Name.
The Rev’d Canon Robert W.A. Park
A copy of our Annual Report is here.