Our monthly newsletter includes:
the priest's letter
calendar of all events
biblical readings and saints celebrations
an article about some aspects of our communal life
Vestry page, with detailed info about practical matters
baptisms, obituaries, birthdays, etc.
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Priest's Letter - March 2022
The Annual Meeting of Christ Parish was held on February 20 after the Sunday Eucharist. There were 33 people in attendance, which is more than we have had on a regular Sunday for quite a while. Our senior warden Robin Sanders presented plans and hopes, underlining that our current financial deficit does not correspond to a loss of vitality of the congregation. He shared the results of the February 17 meeting attended by Bishop Taylor, Canon McCarthy, Robin, and myself, which largely coincide with the intentions of the Vestry. Bishop Taylor agrees that our current efforts to host weddings on our campus could represent a way to manage, at least in part, our financial deficit, thus allowing our ministries to continue. The bishop also supported the Vestry's suggestion to initiate talks with St. Paul's Church in Pomona, with a view to collaboration in terms of ministries and resources. Although the shape of such collaboration is still very much unclear, it was pointed out that both our campuses represent resources, and there is no plan to close either of the two any time soon.
The 2022 budget, presented by our treasurer Jeff Paulus, was approved at the Annual Meeting by a very large majority. Jeff stated clearly that, all things being equal, the parish will not be able to support a full-time priest after October 2022. This is why the implementation of our plans for event rentals (especially weddings) and the beginning of talks with the parish of St. Paul's are strategic priorities. Several parishioners pointed out that my work at the parish represents a strategic asset in and by itself. I am grateful for the recognition, and at the same time I need to point out, as I did at the Annual Meeting, that the future strategic choices of the parish might not include my continuation in the same role, or my own discernment may lead me to exercise my ministry elsewhere or in different ways. This is not a veiled announcement of my departure from Christ Church; it is simply a restatement of the obvious in a context where the pressure of anxiety might lead to an excess of attachment to a leader.
Rebecca's Garden keeps growing in all senses of the term. We get new interested visitors every week, people who heard about us from somebody else, and several groups and organizations are approaching us for collaboration. This is a change from the early stages when we had to look for partnerships, introduce ourselves, and explain our vision. Now we are known in the community and people go to our website to learn more about us. The committee headed by Patricia Betzhold is working on how to integrate all the realities present or imagined on our campus (especially the Garden, the Café, the Dora and James Sanders Library, and the Event Rentals) from a business perspective, but with the very clear intention of supporting and making known to a larger number of people our identity and our ministries.
In the course of the last month, the Vestry also met with the Board of the Center for Spirituality: Spirit, Earth, Action. Much to everyone's delight, we discovered mutual appreciation and deep consensus about the aims of the Center. After coming to an agreement about the mission statement of the Center, the board is now engaged in completing the vision statement (i.e., "where we want to be five years from now"), which will constitute the basis for fundraising efforts outside the parish. Robin and Dawn Sanders have completed a series of interviews with Vestry and Board members that will soon be fashioned into a video to help explain the work of the Center, its scope, and its aims. It is becoming more and more clear that, although there are many moving parts to what we are creating, the cohesion of such parts is strong and is continually witnessed by any new visitor who is stunned by the beauty and the spiritual aura on our campus.
Our collaboration with other parishes of deanery 6 (our geographical area) is constantly growing as well. On March 5 we will be hosting the Lenten Retreat; Holy Week will be entirely a collaborative effort, with our hosting the Easter Vigil for at least five parishes; and in April and May we will be hosting as well the second cohort of the lay preaching class.
These days, I am especially happy about our new programs that run every Friday morning: 9:00 Meditation in the Garden; 10:30 Franciscan Fellowship; 11:45 Midday Prayer. All these programs are open to all. At the Franciscan Fellowship we tell stories about the lives of Francis and Clare, and we reflect on our own lives of prayer and consecration to God's aims in the world.
At this time, while we hear again news of war, I hope that our inner pilgrimage of Lent, beginning on March 2 with the imposition of ashes, will bring to us that stability and clarity which are necessary to be bringers of peace to a world in flames.