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Town Hall Invitation June 25, 2017

Greetings!

I'm writing to invite you to be part of a conversation we're having at St. Mary's this Sunday, June 25, at 9:10 a.m.  

It's time for us to talk about our identity and purpose—who the Holy Spirit is calling us to be? What are we here for? Who is our neighbor, and how are we related to our neighbor?  

I want to hear from you:

  • What are we at St. Mary's passionate about?
  • How do we want to serve our community?
  • What is it that gives us joy as a parish?
  • What niche do we fill?  

Will you join us for this holy work of listening to God's call to us? I hope to see you there!

--Rev. Anne  

Want to know more? Keep reading!  

I shared with the congregation on Mother's Day about some of what is prompting this conversation. Here are some of the highlights:  

As we consider the future for our parish and our property…  

…we have to know where we starting from. We don't presently have solid handle on what our vision is for the church, and therefore the property.  

…We're trying to find out if the property owner to our west will help us somehow with the County requirements for expanding Calvine Road before anything can be built on our land. We know they want to build houses over there, and when they do that, they'll have to do road improvements on Calvine. If we could find a way to them to finish the road in front of us at the same time, we wouldn't have to shoulder the very expensive burden of having to do it ourselves…  

...Episcopal Diocese of Northern California has been talking about where the diocese might want to plant churches. They've prioritized two areas: the expanding region south of 50 and east of 99 (around Folsom), and Elk Grove. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has the same idea. They may even pursue a joint Episcopal-Lutheran church plant, centrally located to serve the growing Elk Grove community. There is no ELCA church in the Elk Grove area. The Episcopal Church has only St. Mary's. Over 200,000 people live in Elk Grove and the surrounding area. An average of 72 of them worship here every week.  

The Episcopal Diocese is very aware that the population here is underserved. Perhaps the Spirit will call us to help change that, and perhaps not. Is it part of our work to increase the number of people we serve so that they too can participate and benefit from the wonderful tradition we're a part of? If so, should we be within the Elk Grove city limits to do so? It's time to be asking—and listening.  

…We have help. Canon Andrea McMillin has found four people to serve us as a Congregational Development Group, to help us figure out our property and future growth plans:

  • Kirk Bone, a real estate developer who goes to Trinity Sacramento)
  • Lynn Zender, a lay member of the Standing Committee among other things
  • Jack Cummings, who is on the Board of Trustees and a retired CFO with experience in business, non-profit, and government
  • Cliff Haggenjos, rector of St. John's, Roseville

They stand ready to help and support us in whatever we choose to do.  

…On May 3, a fellow came by the church to ask about buying our undeveloped parcel. He said he wants to build a custom house in this area, and he really likes this location. We are not actually trying to sell him any part of our property—it's far from clear that we would want to do that.  

But in light of the inquiry about selling part of the property, Diana Siers and I called met with the Congregational Development Group. We talked about the history of St. Mary's and its earlier plans for property and congregational development, where St. Mary's stands now, and the perspective of the diocese (including the Bishop, Standing Committee, and the Congregational Development Committee) has on our situation.  

Here's some good news: The Bishop and Standing Committee stand ready to receive and support any well-thought-out-plan that we, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may dream up. That includes the possibility of financial support. All options are open.  

It is time for us to discern who God is now calling us to be, and what we need to get there. To articulate our identity and mission so that we know what we're working toward. It is time for us to tackle these property questions. Are we in the right location? Do we have the amount of land we need to be the St. Mary's we are becoming, or do we need more, or less? How do our assets serve us, and what do we want to change?  

Remember!:

  • Jesus came that we may have life, and that abundantly. (John 10:10)
  • If our undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, it will come to pass. (Acts 5:28-29)
  • Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39)
  • All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
  • With God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
     

So. How do we know the way? We look to Jesus. We discern together, seeking and listening for the Spirit. We pay attention to the passion that is already evident in this parish for helping and serving others in the wider community. We summon up our courage to let go. We dedicate ourselves to love. We trust God's loving and mighty hand to be at work among us. We talk about the many ways we have already experienced God at work in our midst.  

And we firmly believe that God has a purpose for this parish. I believe that the Holy Spirit is present and calling us forward into a new dream. God has gifted us for this work. Whatever it may be, wherever we may be.