Sunday, January 13, 2008
The Final Day Looms
January 27 is my last day in the pulpit before retiring as rector, just a few weeks away, and a full year since I gave notice to the congregation. For some reason I'm finding these last few weeks to be filled with apprehension, or perhaps it would be better said anxious anticipation. If anything, it reminds me of that long lost anxious waiting for Christmas morning that I had as a very young boy. I will leave the congregation in good financial health with a pattern of slow membership growth and an outstanding reputation for adult Christian education. Although not an especially large church, our commitment to outreach has meant that we generate financial gifts to those in need equal to about a third of our operating budget. We endured the upheaval over the gay issue with few leaving, more coming, and an atmosphere that is comfortable for both conservatives and liberals. I think the parish needs improvement in its ministry to families with children, although we've made huge strides in the last two or three years. Our Sunday School and youth programs are solid but limited in their appeal and they also need a little work. Most of all, I have not done well at inculcating the discipline of holy stewardship among the large middle segment of the parish. We have a few people of extraordinarily modest means who give sacrificially to the work of the parish, and another handful of wealthy families who give with real generosity. But in the middle are far too many who treat stewardship as if it was the same thing as paying dues to the YMCA or country club - with both of those taking priority. I inherited a parish in good shape and am leaving it in better shape but with more to be done. Maybe that's the best way.