Saturday, September 5, 2015

Meeting the Marks

On the website for TEC (The Episcopal Church), there is a page dedicated to The Five Marks of Mission, which says:
“We recognize with gratitude that the Five Marks of Mission, developed by the Anglican Consultative Council between 1984 and 1990 …have given parishes and dioceses around the world a practical and memorable "checklist" for mission activities.” Our Presiding Bishop, together with the Executive Council of TEC used these tenets as a guide for our financial stewardship as a church body, revising the format of the TEC budget and guiding our spending priorities within it. The Five Marks of Mission also informed the passage of many of the resolutions at our most recent General Convention.

Here are The Five Marks of Mission:

~ To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
~ To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
~ To respond to human need by loving service
~ To seek to transform unjust structures of society
~ To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

Focusing the lens from TEC to our parish, I commend the Five Marks of Mission to you as a “checklist” for our mission activities. The good news is: whatever struggles we may have, we are already hitting each of these marks well, and that says a lot.

We proclaim the Good News in our worship on Sundays and Wednesdays with meaningful liturgies supported by the altar guild, choir, liturgical ministries, clergy, and worship committee. Our Rosary ministry reaches well beyond our walls, sharing the Good News in Scriptural prayer with many in our community. We host the annual Community Thanksgiving service, supporting local service agencies as we promote Christian unity.

We nurture new believers holding Inquirers Classes two to three times each year as the need arises, averaging six participants and three instructors per class. Our Moveable Feasts offer spiritual nurture to young adults who are new believers. Christian formation, offered each Sunday, provides discussions that are lively and spiritually informative. Our children and youth formation remains a place we can grow together, and my hopes remain high as we make plans for the coming year.

We respond powerfully to the need around us through our premiere ministry: The Shepherd’s Table & Food Pantry. As you know, we serve food to nourish their bodies and friendship to feed their souls. Our community and herb gardens supply fresh food and flavor to our hot meal as well as opportunity for discussion on how to fix food that is healthy and delicious. Guests are now asking to take herbs for their use at home! The chaplain and other volunteers connect deeply with our guests, praying with them, laughing with them, suffering with them, and sometimes advocating for them. Our pastoral care team brings our holy food of Communion, prayer, and Scripture to members and friends who are shut-in, keeping them connected to God and the church.

We have been out front with TEC and the bishops in NC on the issues of anti-racism (holding a Dismantling Racism workshop here at our church), the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in church and in the world (our Pride Picnic and PFLAG), and calling for the stemming of gun violence. We’ve taken some criticism for it, but we’ve stood firm in our baptismal covenant and have witnessed amazing changes in marriage laws, new energy toward racial unity, and recently, the vestry passed a policy forbidding firearms in/on our church property.

We do our best to be good stewards of creation: our buildings have been reviewed and commended for our carbon-footprint awareness. We also hold an annual public blessing of the animals reminding our local community of the belovedness of all creation and supporting our local no-kill animal shelter.

As Christians who are members of the body of Christ, we are called to love and serve in the name of our Savior. As we discern our path forward, I hold up the faithfulness of our current path. Well done, good and faithful servants.

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