During the January Annual Retreat of Grace-St. Luke’s Vestry at St. Columba Retreat Center, lively conversation, working sessions, and prayer began the process to adopt a parish vision at its February meeting. 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. This collaborative work, which involved the other clergy and me, was essential to dream about and state how GSL might support the church’s “mission” to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. God has granted us the gift of life and the opportunity to focus increasingly more – beyond our imagination – on our mission and vision.
My calling, just a little over a year ago, to serve as your Rector was more meaningful than you can imagine. I was drawn, after six years of service as the Rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Center City Charlotte, North Carolina, to the countless aspects of life at Grace-St. Luke’s that were going well, and excited about even more that the parish has the capacity to become and do as a thriving resource-size parish in Midtown Memphis. Our strong foundation positions us to go even deeper into our faith, enhance internal ministries, and serve the wider community in new ways. As a faith community to which all sorts and conditions of persons might be drawn and experience us a leader in helping folks with finding hope, belonging, and healing, I am excited about and committed to helping us to realize our common vision. Through creativity and with gracious spirits of deep gratitude, joy, and excellence, in all that we do in ministry, we are bound to become an even better and growing community of God’s beloved.
On October 6, our 2020 Stewardship Campaign will launch to support our vision with a goal to receive a majority of pledges by All Saints’ Sunday, November 3. I believe that our vision will be realized through the three-fold investment of our collective time, talent, and money to support life at Grace-St. Luke’s. A little if not a lot of each, whatever is possible, goes a long way to sustain the whole. Our ministries of worship, music, formation, pastoral care, congregational development, fellowship, outreach and justice, stewardship, operations, and the care of our sacred buildings and grounds will flourish through whatever each parishioner might contribute toward the whole.
When I was a little boy, my parents always talked about stewardship as a dance – the spirited dance of time, talent, and money, regardless of how much of each, designed to bring life to the Church. In the coming weeks, and especially in the new year, I will be working with the Vestry, the Clergy-Staff Team, and a host of lay leaders on sharing specific and general ways that might further encourage and inspire commitments to support life at GSL.
Godspeed and blessings as we try,
– The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector