Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, January 29, 2007

Rector's Report to the Annual Parish Meeting 2007

Here is the Rector's Report, slightly edited for grammar, from yesterday's meeting. I did not read it into the record because I didn't want it to influence the debate on the resolution following.

Once again I thank God for all the blessings and mercies he has shown unto us here at St. John’s!
2006 was filled with exciting events around St. John’s, and involving St. John’s! The Super Bowl and World Series keep the neighborhood hopping, as well as St. John’s (particularly our feeding ministry to the Detroit Police Department during the Super Bowl). The renovations to the Façade and Garden kept the Vestry and Office Staff busy, but the results were glorious!
And there were many spiritual highlights this year as well: revamped Sunday School Curriculum, The new Children’s Chapel, 18 Baptisms, the food drive for Gleaners, a full weekday liturgical schedule, The Alpha Course, the revival of the Evangelism Committee, and many people finding St. John’s and joining us as members – this is just to name a few!
But there are storm clouds on the horizon. Starting locally, and moving on to the national and international Anglican Church: the irregularity of attendance on the part of some parishioners, issues with the Diocesan Ad Campaign, the economy causing some parishioners to move away for employment, and the increasing apostacy of The Episcopal Church, especially concerning General Convention and its aftermath are just a few of the troubling signs facing us.
But friends – we have a choice to make. We can allow the bad things to distract us, or we can continue forward in faith, knowing that Jesus Christ is in Charge and can use even the most dire of situations to glorify Himself! Yes, we need to stay on top of the various situations that affect us, but we cannot allow them to consume us and keep us from our primary purpose to know Christ and make Him know!
But St. John’s is taking leadership in the Diocese, and moving on with the Gospel message of salvation! As I said in an email last January………………….
Friends, these are trying times in the Episcopal Church and our Worldwide Anglican Communion. Disagreements abound based in scripture, theology, and competing views of reality and human nature. In the coming years there is a possibility of great division in our worldwide Communion. BUT WHAT THE DEVIL REALLY WANTS is to distract us from our primary purpose to Know Christ and Make Him Known! We could spend a lot of energy wringing our hands, shaking our fists at the Diocese/National Church/Bishop(s), and devising plans to build bunkers, hide assets, or make plans to jump ahead of the decisions of the godly bishops around the world, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who are praying and discerning a way forward. But this is a distraction that can envelope us and prevent us from growing in grace! I have shared this with you before, and am not ashamed to say it again. There is one way to make changes in the Diocese and National Church. Rather than politicking, we just have to out-evangelize those whose message is contrary to the traditional apostolic teaching of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church! There is discussion about closing parishes in Detroit. Only a few parishes are growing in this diocese, and nationally the Episcopal Church is shrinking. But St. John's continues to grow; not just as a sanctuary for those fleeing theologically inventive parishes, but in the fact that many new people are coming to Christ: adults being baptised, and entire families too. This is the work of the Church! If we continue to be faithful, God will prevail in growing this parish and other biblically sound parishes that focus on preaching and teaching The Good News as Jesus has revealed Himself in scripture. Other parishes will begin to follow this example as there are changes in leadership in their parishes and they want to emulate the growth at growing parishes (change or die).

May God keep us faithful and holy in the year to come!