It should go without saying that how the Church Catholic (universal) goes about celebrating the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany during the COVID-19 pandemic will be “one for the books.” Such will be the case for life at GSL: new and different.
Because the faithful people of GSL continue to show resilience and find ways to stay connected amid a physically-distanced cultural climate, the clergy-staff team, vestry, and ministry area leaders are committed to offering a wide array of opportunities to support the spiritual journeys of adults, youth and children. Recognizing the general health, limited mobility, more-at-risk circumstances, and non-internet usage of some parishioners, intentional measures are underway and improving to provide spiritual journey resources so that no one is precluded from engagement. These measures include ongoing online (virtual) services and special programs on Sundays and weekdays. A variety of offerings is essential to sustain a thriving parish.
This issue of The Messenger is loaded with information about engaging worship, formation, fellowship, pastoral care, outreach, social justice, music, recreation and wellness, stewardship, and the Annual Meeting of the Parish. In mid-December, a schedule of events for Winter-Spring 2021 should be almost complete and ready for release. A lot already is happening at GSL with more to come as we follow Jesus and learn increasingly more about what it means to be a follower.
This holy time of engagement strikes me as our being and doing and being known both by God and others in new ways. For life at GSL, it may mean trying a mix-match approach: seize silence, physical isolation, and new things as gifts for spiritual growth; meditate on the spiritual guidance resources provided online and by mail; attend in person and/or online worship, music and formation events; serve as a lay pastoral care minister; provide financial support of operations, administration, and programs; explore outreach and social justice work; connect with parishioners via phone, hand-written letter, and REALM Connect; and invite others to join us on this pilgrimage with God.
All that GSL offers now and in the future is dependent on the collective ministry of giving time, talent and treasure, mindful that each amount matters. Engaging GSL includes supporting our 2021 stewardship fundraising campaign, Resilience and Connection by Giving (gracestlukes.org/pledge), which seeks 100% participation from all parish households. I extend a deep bow of gratitude to all for pledges made and those to come as we prepare for an extraordinary new year!
During a pandemic, our mission and vision are unchanged. Our mission, according to the Episcopal Catechism (an outline of the faith), is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. Our vision is to be a thriving community of hope, belonging, and healing through worship, parish life, and service, and who rejoices in the love of Jesus to transform the world.
God’s blessings and peace as we engage life at GSL during this and every season,
The Rev. Ollie V. Rencher, Rector
901-252-6320 | orencher [at] gracestlukes [dot] org