Brothers and Sisters, Grace and Peace to You in the Name of Jesus Christ:
another year has come and gone and for the 7th time since joining the life and ministry of this congregation I sit down to write my Annual Report and reflect on the ministry that we share.
I want to begin this year’s report by saying thank you. Thank You to the Scripture Readers, Greeters Candlelighters, and coffee preparers who have added to our worship services over the year. Thank You to the leaders of our programs for children and youth. Thank You to people who organized our large events that raised funds and built community. Thank You to all those people who work in the background, doing dozens of tasks that make this place run smoothly. Thank You to the members of our committees. Thank You to the members of Council. Thank You for your support both of our congregational budget and for your support to the community through the Local Outreach Fund. The Stewardship & Finance Committee has tried to come up with a way to quantify the number of volunteer hours that make this place the faith community that it is. We have not yet found the equation to do so, but I am sure that the number of volunteer hours accumulated each year would be in the 1000’s. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.
And on a more personal note, Thank You as a congregation for all the support that is offered to me personally and to us as a family. Many of my colleagues across the church will note that they often feel unappreciated or unsupported. That has never been true of my time in this congregation. You are generous in spirit and in action. Thank You.
Elsewhere in this report people are talking about what happened in 2016. I will let them tell the story. The thing that made 2016 different for me was the sabbatical. I had never taken a sabbatical before and to tell the truth was unsure what it would feel like to be off for that amount of time (and really it kind of felt weird). But as the start of the Sabbatical time approached last Spring I became more and more aware how much I was feeling the need for a time of rest and refreshment. And so another Thank You. Thank You for making the time possible, and Thank You to all who stepped in to provide support and leadership in my absence.
An annual report has two functions. One is to look back on what was. The other is to look ahead to what we hope will be. After all, on of the pieces of business at the Annual Congregational Meeting is to pass the budget, the spending plan, for the next year. And a budget is one of the ways an organization talks about what it wants to accomplish.
What are some of my hopes for the year? One is to spend less time in the church office. Periodically my elbow tells me I have been spending too much time on the computer. Optimally I would like to spend (in a normal week) 5 half days in the office at the most. To help make that happen I am looking for people to visit in those other hours. So call me and we will set up a time when I can escape from the computer screen.
Another hope of mine is related to the fact that I have been here for 6.5 years now. With time comes the danger of falling into a routine (which sometimes has the danger of becoming a rut). It is my intent to talk to some friends who have served a congregation for long term (in one case coming up on 30 years) abut how they kept the ministry fresh. It is my hope that we continue to try new things and keep each other growing as we try to understand what it means to follow Jesus in Grande Prairie in the 21st century.
A new year beckons, new challenges await (and hopefully no new floods).