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Rev’d Dr. Mike Michielin
February 2005

Paul begins his letter to the Philippians with these words “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel …”. I too thank God every time I remember you in my prayers. In particular, I thank God because of your partnership in the gospel. I am encouraged by your common commitment with me to seek God’s direction for Christ Church in 2004. Together we worked hard to develop a Long Range Plan for the parish. I wish to thank our parish council and Angela Fitzhugh for the long hours they put in, taking your ideas and creating a mission statement, set of goals, objectives and strategies.

I also thank God that together we are implementing our Long Range Plan. Let me review what we have done. Our first goal is to create an active discipleship community of faith by helping parishioners know, understand, and believe what it means to follow Jesus Christ. I have offered a sermon series on ‘Discipleship’ and a children’s series on ‘Stewardship’. Books studies have and continue to take place to educate us about discipleship and the Christian Life. Guest speakers have been invited to address specific issues such as Prayer. To improve communication in the parish, a summary of parish council’s minutes is now included in the bulletin, wardens report our financial situation on a quarterly basis, the parish list has been updated and presently, email addresses are being gathered. To help develop a stronger sense of community, name tags have been introduced in our services, we had our first parish retreat at Camp Hyanto and our Stewardship coordinators sponsored the first ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?’ event.

There is much more we can do in this area. Lenten series will address ‘What it means to be an Anglican?’ and study the Apostles Creed. The present Lenten sermon series on the Beatitudes addresses Christian Character. It is my hope that in 2005 a network of small groups will develop where members of our parish can gather together to learn from Scripture or books, pray and support one another. A course will be offered to train anyone interested in leading a group.

Our second goal seeks to provide a worship experience that is spiritually uplifting, addresses present-day concerns, offers different styles of music, facilitates the inclusions of newcomers, and yet is sensitive to our Anglican tradition. We are well under way to achieving this goal. I am working hard to orient my sermons to be both challenging, and relevant. We have more people involved in the liturgy. The introduction of name tags and your willingness to express yourself more freely during the peace has changed the atmosphere of our service, I believe, for the better. As a result, newcomers have told me how friendly we are. We are directing our music ministry towards a blend of traditional organ and contemporary styles of music. I thank Barry Lloyd for his years of service to this parish and now to our interim music leaders, Carolyn Dowling and Caroline Pratt along with the Choir for their excellent work and cooperation.

Again, there is more that needs be done. I am hopeful to see more of you involved in the liturgy – as readers, chalice bearers, leaders of the prayers, lay readers, greeters, or in the choir. As our music ministry continues to evolve, I hope to see more leadership from our choir – singing of anthems, the psalms, and others parts of the liturgy. Also, while holding onto our rich traditional styles of music, let us not fear experimenting with others styles of music and instruments so that our music ministry is accessible and uplifting for all.
Our third goal seeks to encourage and equip laity to exercise their god-given gifts to forward the ministry and outreach of Christ Church. Many of you have taken steps of faith and offered the gifts God has given you. I thank God for your step of faith. As God’s stewards, He has given all of us gifts for ministry. No gift is more or less important. For some of you it may be hard to discern your gifts. To help you, the Stewardship committee plans to offer a workshop, ‘What are my gifts?’ to help you discern what gifts God has given you. I am excited by some of our outreach initiatives - the youth group food bank drive, our continued ministry to the elderly and shut-ins, and our participation in the local Santa Clause parade. Yet, our overall support of the Food Bank is wanting. We still have not set our minds to supporting any specific foreign or local mission project. Let us prayerfully consider supporting both local and foreign missions in 2005.

Our fourth goal plans to expand and develop a sense in the parish that we are all called to take care – i.e., be Stewards – of everything we have for the purpose of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the World. As disciples of Jesus we are called to give of our time, talents and money. This is not something we do grudgingly but joyfully because God has given so much to us. During the month of February and March, our Stewardship Coordinator, along with Parish Council will be organizing House Group meetings similar to ones we had when we first engaged in the development of our Long Range Plan. At these House Group meetings you will be given an opportunity to reflect on our LRP and consider ways you can offer of your time, talent and money to support our plan.

As you will see, the wardens are proposing yet another deficit budget. To help meet this shortfall, parish council has voted Lloyd Dunham to the position of Fundraiser Coordinator. His job will be to coordinate present fund raising initiatives and encourage new initiates as well. Please speak to Lloyd if you have any ideas and are willing to help. We can personally help meet our shortfall by increasing our giving for 2005 if we are able. I challenge everyone to join me in increasing your giving by 1% this year. Also, if you do not give on a regular weekly or monthly basis, please consider doing so. You can use envelopes or sign up with our preauthorized giving program. Don’t give what is left over, but as Scripture teaches us, give first to God. When we take this step of faith, trust that God blesses us in ways unimaginable.

Our last goal seeks to create a loving, caring and open-minded community of faith in Jesus Christ that encourages people to join the parish and learn about and follow Jesus Christ. Notice that our goal is not to fill the pews so we can fill our coffers. We want people to come to Christ Church so they can know and follow Jesus. The best way to encourage people to come to Christ Church is to be a community of learners and followers of Jesus. This is the direction of our first four goals and our mission statement. You have chosen to be students and followers of Jesus Christ. You have chosen as our mission statement says,

To Grow in love and understanding of Jesus Christ and to share this openly as a community and in our world

Let us re-commit ourselves together in 2005 to grow in love and understanding of Jesus Christ and to share this openly as a community and in our world.