Dear St. Mary's family,
Summer vacations have largely ended, school is back in session, and the program year is about to begin! Before we begin this Sunday, I ask for your indulgence as I share with you a few of my thoughts about where we are as a parish and some of our upcoming ministry opportunities.
Each year, every Episcopal parish submits a report to the national church that includes various metrics and statistics about parish life. The 2018 statistical numbers were released last week, and it doesn't take a statistician to know that things are dire. The Episcopal Church's Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) declined by 4% over the past year and has declined by 24.7% over the past ten years. The Diocese of West Missouri has declined 7.2% in the past year and 34.6% over the past ten years.
The good news is that St. Mary's is bucking the trends.
We've grown from an ASA of 55 in 2014 to 79 in 2018 (this includes all Sunday services) - that's 43% growth. We grew 32% from 2017 to 2018, and as of 8/31/19, have grown an additional 18%. There many contributing factors to our growth trend, but the single most important way any church grows is by
. The fact of the matter is that a good number of you are sharing your faith and inviting your friends. I encourage you to seek out opportunities to
begin praying for specific friends
in your life who are unchurched or looking for a church, and then ultimately
to join you at St. Mary's.
is another metric that helps shed some light on the health of a parish. Last year's stewardship campaign was overwhelmingly positive, and through the end of August (66% of the year), we've received 57% of our committed pledges. Thank you for your financial commitment to St. Mary's! The 2020 Stewardship Campaign will begin in the coming weeks. I encourage you to
begin thinking and praying
about how you might support the life and ministry of St. Mary's financially. If you have not pledged before, please consider pledging! If you gave this year, please consider increasing your pledge for next year.
Since January 2018, the Bishop has accepted two St. Mary's parishioners as postulants for ordination: Lynda Hurt (deacon), Isaac Petty (priest). We have another parishioner who has formally started the process, and I'm aware of three others who are in the early stages of discernment. For a parish our size, it is somewhat amazing that we're raising up this many for
This Sunday, the
St. George's Choir
is back in full force! We have several new choir members, including Molly Bruner Hon, Jim Ismert, and Jonathan Daniel. You may notice a few small changes to the liturgy, especially the change in the congregational Mass setting. After being on hiatus for the summer,
begins this coming Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m, sung by a schola of sopranos and altos. In October and November, Compline will be sung by guest choirs (of the highest quality!) and will include additional choral music before the service begins. The William Baker Festival Singers will sing
Evensong and Benediction
in both November and January as well as a concert on All Saints Sunday. There are also several
sung by outside groups on the schedule including Songflower Chorale, the American Guild of Organists, Summerfest, and more.
John Simpson is leading the charge in discerning how we might best minister to our community in terms of
. This coming Sunday after the 10:00 Mass, there will be a second Social Justice Committee meeting in the nave. Some of our members feel led to pursue
(advocating for justice issues) while others are more interested in
(directly serving the poor, those in prison, etc.). All are invited to come to this important meeting as we continue to discern how God is calling us to cast down the mighty and lift up the lowly in Jesus' name!
We continue in the long-standing St. Mary's tradition of having an
each week after the 10:00 Mass, providing parishioners an opportunity to welcome new folks and share in food and fellowship. Raja Reed, Richard Liantonio, Sylvia Augustus, Betty Iorg, Todd Chenault-Wiseley, and many others provide a lovely spread each week!
Led by our own Todd Conklin, there are four
groups that meet at St. Mary's: Sunday at noon, Monday at 8pm, Friday at 7pm, and Saturday at 10am. If you have family or friends struggling with alcohol addiction, please let them know that there is help for them at St. Mary's!
We are very close to starting a formal
during the 10:00 Mass. The kids will be at Mass with the adults, except between the gospel reading and the offertory. Many thanks to Bonnie Haupt, Ros Powell, Chris Steinauer, and Michael Ritzel for being willing to help with this important ministry. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks, and once it's up and running, please let your friends with children know!
The St. Mary's Belles, the parish's
, meet regularly for both matters of faith and fun. In particular, please mark your calendars for the Retreat scheduled for November 16th (more information below).
Thanks to the leadership of Fr. Sean Kim, Isaac Petty, and David Wilcox, there are multiple opportunities for
this fall. The schedule through the end of the year is published below.
Last but not least, the Mass, also called the Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion, is the heartbeat of our parish.
Mass is offered daily
(schedule below), providing an opportunity for prayer, contemplation, and spiritual nourishment throughout the week.
I am so grateful for your faith, and for your devotion to St. Mary's Church! I hope and pray that you continue to grow in your faith this coming year, and as you do, that we as a parish continue to grow in faith and in numbers.
See you Sunday in church!
Fr. Charles Everson