O God, our times are in your hand: Look with favor, we pray, on your servants as they begin another year. Grant that they may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen their trust in your goodness all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We pray this prayer nearly Sunday for those who are celebrating birthdays; but since this Sunday marks the start of our second year together as priest and flock, it seems an appropriate prayer for us as well.
And what a year it has been! There have been lots of changes, not all of them welcome, I’m sure. We’ve seen our share of heartbreak this year, as we’ve lost a number of our St. James family. We’ve overcome some challenges, not least of which was a devastating hailstorm in May that we’re only now putting behind us. But we’ve also met with lots of success– far more than I could reasonably have predicted a year ago.
Every week at our Tuesday staff meeting, we always begin by assessing the previous Sunday’s service: What went well? What didn’t go well? What could we do better? Then we look at the coming Sunday to see what we need to do to prepare. I think that’s a good practice, and it’s something we should regularly do as a congregation.
That’s what I’d like us to do together next Sunday, Oct. 8, following our parish breakfast. Let’s assess our first year together and honestly ask ourselves: What went well? What didn’t go well? What could we do better? And what do we need to do to prepare for the coming year?
I have my own personal list of highs and lows and goals for the next year. But I want to make sure that my thinking aligns pretty closely with yours. I don’t want to head off in a new direction if no one is willing to follow. And I don’t want to linger in a place that no one else likes.
So I’ve got a homework assignment for you: Between now and Oct. 8, please give thought to this, and be prepared to speak up at our Round Table. To help spur your memory, I’ve attached a list of some of the new things we’ve implemented this year. Which ones do you like? Which ones do you not? Which ones left no impression on you whatsoever?
Then, think about where you’d like to see St. James one year from now. Be realistic. What is an attainable goal, and what would we have to do to reach it? What would you be willing to do, personally, to see it happen?
Our times really are in God’s hands. But often as not, God uses our hands to accomplish the divine will. May God give us the wisdom and grace to become the church we are called to be.
What have we accomplished in the past year?
1. Brought back our choir
2. Got new choir robes
3. Began singing certain parts of the service
4. Added a Sunday evening Dinner Church
5. Revised the service bulletin to be full-text
6. Brought the old children’s chapel upstairs
7. Updated the Wednesday noon Eucharist service
8. Expanded ministry of lay readers
9. Baptism of Colton Trommeter
10. Altar flowers sponsorships
11. Services every night of Holy Week, including Easter Vigil
12. Never on Sunday concert
13. Morning Prayer Tuesdays and Thursdays in Lent
14. Becky’s installation
15. Addition of a deacon, first Joe, now Anthony
1. Began serving at St. Clare’s on 5th Tuesdays (about 4 times a year)
2. Raised $1800 for Colorado Haiti Project
3. Raised $1500 for Episcopal Relief and Development hurricane relief
4. Collected hot sauce for St. Clare’s
1. Began offering adult formation classes almost every Sunday following coffee hour (Exodus; Books that Didn’t Make the Bible; Mary Magdalene; Seeing Ourselves in Those Confronted by Jesus; Gospel of Matthew; Advent: Season of Hope and Anticipation)
2. Wednesday night “Soup and Songs” during five weeks of Lent
3. Offered 10-week Inquirer’s class that resulted in 10 people being confirmed, received or renewing their vows
4. Offered an Advent Quiet Day
Building and maintenance
1. Recovered from destructive hail storm, got a new roof, repaired stained glass windows
2. Accessible bathroom almost done!
3. Expanded wi-fi access throughout building
4. Steve Lord took over parish garden and landscaping following Becky Buckley’s death
1. Updated training for Eucharistic visitors
2. “Attendance” logs for keeping better track of who is missing
1. Offered a Thanksgiving Day worship service, followed by a Community Thanksgiving feast in the Parish Hall
2. St. James Day / Homecoming celebration with blue grass band
3. Formed Ethnic Dining Group to eat at different restaurants every month
4. Started game night (Bunco)
5. Altar Guild Games
6. Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner
7. Veteran’s Day observance
Communications and evangelism
1. Revamped web site
2. Brought back Gleanings from the Wheat Field, made it digital AND print, weekly
3. Obtained services of professional photographer Fred Mast
4. Staffed booth at Pride Fest
5. Created new marketing brochures
6. Letters to visitors and to new Wheat Ridge residents
7. Expanded Facebook presence
Things that didn’t work out so well
1. Farmer’s market
2. May tea
3. Fund-raising projects