Thursday, 9 February 2006

GENEral Remarks on the Occasion of an Annual Meeting of Parishioners


The fact that I am standing before you, reasonably intact, a year after our last annual meeting of parishioners is due in no small part to the unfailing and generous love and support I have received from Jude. You’re amazing. Thank you. I love you. I also need to acknowledge some others who have served well in the year 05:
  • Georgina has continued her quiet work among us. One thing I particularly appreciate is her having taken on a greater role in dealing with folk who come to StB looking for help both through the Samaritan Fund and through the little stash of necessities and goodies she has set up with her 830 buddies. Thank you.

  • Kathy Treuer has done another excellent and efficient year as our treasurer. She manages to blend fiscal responsibility with always allowing us to get on with things. Thank you.

  • The Rector’s and People’s Wardens…Doug, Kelly, Keith and Barry…I wonder if you’re aware of the stresses they’ve had to endure during this last year. I am deeply aware of the cost in time and in effort of thought concerning thorny issues. Thank you.

  • The Vestry Members…Chris, Molly and Scotty who are coming to the end of their 2 year spell; Mac, Gloria and Shade who are still in the middle of theirs. These are very hard times to be in leadership. I have seen them give of their time and energy in significant ways as they have stepped up to the plate to face serious issues on behalf of all of you.

  • Ministry Team Leaders…thanks to the following people who have done so much in the past year: Shannan Unrau and now Kathy Exner (Youth), Bev McKee (ACW), Merv&Barb (coffee), Karen Olechowsky (Nursery), Sharon Todd (Choral music), Mickey Todd (Sound), Gillian Sandham (Children), Georgina van Wert (Altar Guild), Gloria Millar (Prayer), Harry Snaith, Karen Holmes, Diane Quinlan (Stephen Ministry), Brian Klein (Sidespeople and Tithe and offering counters), Barry & Betty Atkinson (Alpha), Jean Phelps (Visitors), Chris Baker and now Sue Walchuk (Ultreya), Judy Packwood (Worship Co-ordination)
The Year 05

I am very happy to see that our decline in numbers has been reversed. We went from an average attendance of 149 (150 by my count) in 2004 to 150 (151 by my count) in 2005. That is a good sign in a denomination which is declining at the rate of some 2% a year according to a recent consultation reporting to the House of Bishops.

I am very happy to see individuals responding to what they feel the Lord is calling them to do. New things have happened; for example, adopting a 3km of highway between the Hat and Redcliff; getting in touch with all the folk we pray for in the parish cycle of prayer and inviting them to a pot-bless supper here in the gym once a month, a new mural in the parking lot; efforts to start some sort of study group between services, or after them; the ACW started some new things to bless the youth in the parish and others; you’re sitting on new chairs, there are smiling sidespeople at the 830 service these days.

I am very happy to see other wonderful things continue; the garden gets planted and maintained, the church gets cleaned and the light-bulbs get changed, someone continues to just drop in and check on the furnaces and to check for leaks after it rains and to keep an eye on Georgina’s computer and software, someone has made sure the stained glass windows are being maintained. The list goes on.

I continue to serve on the Diocesan Executive and Management Committees and chair the new Diocesan Safety Committee which is working to develop and safety program for our diocese. I am a member of the Anglican Essentials Calgary Executive Committee. I serve on the national board for New Wine Canada. I have wee jobs for both the Medicine Hat Ministerial Association (Teeoda worship roster co-ordinator) and the Medicine Hat Evangelical Association (the prayer gatherings committee).

It has been a difficult year as we’ve struggled with the crisis in the Anglican Communion. For us, that’s come to a head in the proposed motion to affiliate with the Anglican Essentials Network we will be dealing with later.

This is difficult stuff but conflict is nothing new for the church. Today the issue is Essentials or not, and which interpretation of Scripture to go with. In the meantime the BCP-BAS controversy continues, traditional vs contemporary music and style of worship is still an issue for many, suggest changing the layout of our worship space (as someone did a couple of years ago) and didn’t the sparks fly.

We’ve had to live with conflict in the past (ever since Genesis chapter 3, in fact) and we’ll continue to live with it, for, as a previous Archbishop of Canterbury said, what is at the centre of our faith is not some great silence as in some religions, but a cross, which seems to attract conflict rather than make it go away. As followers of the way of that cross, our job is to redeem conflict. This parish has weathered past storms. With God’s help, we will weather many more.

The Year 06

Here’s a scary thought. Not only is my job to comfort you when you are hurting, but it is to disturb you and get you moving when to are, perhaps, getting a bit too comfortable with your situation. That means challenges.

Children/Youth Worker

Your Wardens and Vestry voted to re-direct the funds that had been paid to our organist to hire a part-time children/youth worker in 06. This was made possible with the co-operation of Sharon Todd, our Choral Music Director, who agreed to work with a pianist hired to cover the Christmas and Easter choir seasons and the generous offering of time and talent by Jill Rebbeck and Bev McKee who have volunteered to play the organ at the 830 service and when necessary at the 1030 service

The hope is to begin with someone at 5 hours per week for $300 a month. The challenge will be grow in our tithes and offerings faithfulness so we can grow the position to full-time one day.
St Barnabas is at the stage, with an average attendance of 150, where the church-growth pundits say we need more staff to approach and pass the 200 barrier.

From Maintenance to Mission

I believe moving from maintenance to mission continues to be the biggest challenge facing our church and our congregation. We face a number of challenges here:
  • We are in an old wine-skin (a building designed for the kind of worship that happened almost 100 years ago) when new believers tend to go to new churches

  • We need more money to finance ministry (NOT through fund-raising): there are two challenges here; our level of giving and the diocesan apportionment formula (I say this with great respect given the presence of our Executive Archdeacon)

  • The crisis in the wider church can deflect us from our task

  • Every ministry team in the church must continue to think of ways in which it can reach the people who are not yet members of this congregation. There are three particular opportunities for ministry in this for us in particular, three areas in which people actually come to us rather than us having to go and find them: Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals.
How can we use those opportunities more effectively. That is the question I want to leave with you for the year 06.