Last Saturday the Vestry of St. Mark's gathered for a retreat day at the church. This was an opportunity for the vestry to not only do the business of the church, but also to do some strategic planning, visioning work, and reflection. Normally the vestry meets once a month on a Sunday at 12:00 noon, and vestry meetings are open to the public. We rarely have visitors, but guests are always welcome. It is seldom that we have an executive session, and thus have to ask visitors to leave the meeting.
On Saturday we began our time by joining the regularly scheduled Saturday morning services at St. Mark's. We prayed the Rosary with those who come every Saturday, and we also attended Morning Prayer and the Mass. After the mass we did some necessary business, and then for the remainder of the day we focused on mission and ministry.
We began by looking at our most recent parish statistics, and by brainstorming our strengths, challenges, and opportunities. We are fortunate that we continue to have steady growth in attendance and stewardship. At the same time, we know that we are understaffed for what we wish to do. Strengths that were discerned include the music program, our worship, the leadership of the parish, our outreach ministries, lay involvement in ministries, and our location and facilities. Challenges included parking, the general cultural shift that is happening in our society, and our location and facilities. As you can see, some items can be a challenge and a strength. Out of this the vestry looked at some opportunities available to us, and there is an eagerness to be more intentional about growth and discipleship. The strategic plan continues to be relevant, and our Anglo-Catholic identity is priceless in defining our mission.
As we embark on 2017, we chose three words to help focus our life together - compassion, creativity, and connectivity. Several other words were also considered including generosity, gratitude, service, community, sacramental, and inclusive, among others. The vestry chose compassion, creativity, and connectivity, because many of the other words could be included in these three. Furthermore, these three words were chosen because they are current strengths for St. Mark's, while also presenting some growing edges for us. Whatever task or activity that we do, we will discern how these three words inform our ministry in the Name of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes one will hear clergy talk about how their monthly meeting with their vestry is a challenging time. It is true that the vestry often has difficult business to address. I am thankful that at St. Mark's, even when we have difficult work to do, we still enjoy being together. Everyone on our vestry truly loves and cares for the ministries and people of St. Mark's. Even more important, the vestry knows what the mission should be, and they have a generous spirit. I am grateful for every person on the vestry, and for their willingness to serve Christ and his Church.
Father Paul Lillie+