We have this ministry and we are not discouraged,
it is by God's own power that we can live and serve.
Openly we share God's word, speaking truth as we believe,
praying that the shadowed world may healing light receive.
We have this ministry, O God receive our living.
(verse 1 of “We Have This Ministry” #510 in Voices United)
We have a ministry of sharing God's Word of light, life and love with the people of Grande Prairie and the wider world. It isn't always easy knowing best how to do that. We struggle with it daily in a thousand different decisions. We explore how God is speaking to us in our times of worship, study, and work. Your Council takes seriously the task of providing leadership, of looking for where the path is headed. In discussions about how our building will look and operate, in discussions about what studies to have, in discussions about what impact we make on our community, in these and many other discussions we, the church, are exploring and living out the key question – how is God calling us to be in the world?
Elsewhere in this report you will find discussions of what we as a church have done this past year. I wonder what the highlights of the year were for you? What were our challenges?
For me one of the highlights was the work your Council has done, steered by Ken, to explore how we respond to the concerns raised in the Annual Meeting a year ago. We have done a much deeper look at causal factors and starting to assess best responses than often happens in a Joint Needs Assessment process. We don't have full answers yet, and I do believe that for St. Paul's to grow as a congregation we will end up looking at more paid Ministry time, but by taking a step back and trying to drop assumptions about the “cure” I believe we have done a good piece of diagnostic work.
Another highlight for me also raises a challenge. At the end of the summer we were in a year-to-date deficit of $30 000. By the end of the year we were at a break-even point. In fact we were even able to decide at our February Council meeting to only put half of the revenue from the Garage Sale and the Beef Dinner & Auction into general revenue with the rest going into Special Projects. Our revenue for general operating was the highest it has ever been! Well done! The challenge was laid down and we rose to meet it.
Looking forward to 2015 I wonder what highlights we will talk about next year. I wonder what challenges will fall into our path.
What new ways will we find to connect with our community? What new ways will the community make an impact on us? How will we share the light of Christ in a world of shadows?
God has called us together as a community. God has called us to share the Kingdom with Grande Prairie. That is our ongoing challenge. But I have confidence that we are up to the challenge. We have the resources to do amazing things. And so I ask if there is something new you want to try?
On a more personal note, one of my tasks for 2015 is planning for 2016. In discussions with the M&P committee I am planning to take a sabbatical leave from Victoria Day to Labour Day in 2016, in part to celebrate the 15th anniversary of my ordination. So this year we need to plan how I will spend that time and how we as a congregation will cover off those three months.
As Shakespeare's Henry V said “once more into the breach dear friends”. Let us head off into the adventure that will be 2015.