Monday, March 23, 2009

Sermon on the Future of Grace Church

Sermon on the Future of Grace Church

This is the outline of a sermon given by the Reverend Ernestein Flemister on March 22, 2009.

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.

This morning, I have been given the task of updating you and the friends of Grace on our current condition. As was mentioned at the annual meeting, we did not pass a budget because of a deficit of close to $57,000.00. We have been able to overcome our deficit over the last two years through your generous support and the support of the diocese in providing grants to support our work and mission. We are all aware of the economic downturn; this has affected us all, the diocese included.

Since the annual meeting, Mission Council has been hard at work looking at options and alternatives. We met with members of the diocese including the bishop to discuss the situation at Grace. In our discussion with Bishop Breidenthal, he suggested that we explore and investigate a concept called “common or total ministry.” In fact, bishop Breidenthal wrote an article on it in this month’s issue of the Interchange. At the end of our meeting with the bishop, four committees were set up to look at:

  1. Common ministry,
  2. Building rental and utilization,
  3. Possible merger with another church, and
  4. Fundraising.

At the Mission Council meeting last week, we received initial committee reports.

Common ministry:

Common Ministry is living out our baptismal vows by using the gifts of every member of the congregation. It is a belief that the Spirit equips every congregation to meet our basic ministry needs from among our own members. Through a process of continued discernment, we would determine who would be engaged in the ministry and work of Grace.

The Mission Council is investigating this idea and voted to send a letter to the Bishop asking him to help us further explore the concept of Common Ministry with the Diocese and the Congregation. The Bishop conveyed to us that the final decision will be ours. We will bring the information to you and together a decision will be made on Common Ministry. If you have any questions, please ask a member of your Mission Council and we will try to provide as much information as we have available to you.

Building rental and utilization.

Collaborating with Six acres bed and breakfast

Exploring the possibility of a Montessori pre-school.

Developing a community training program

Exploring opportunities for grants to assist in projects

Merger with another church:

We have looked into merging with several other churches. At this time, it seems to be an unlikely prospect however we will continue to investigate all possibilities.


“Taste of Grace” Dinner– international food festival; exploring the food and culture of different parts of the world.

Rummage sale in the fall

Booths at Gay Pride Parade, 4th of July Parade, and Community Fairs

Joint Fundraisers with other organizations, i.e. CAIN.

Music Series with guest musicians, Rainbow Band and Muse.

Silent Auction/Community Charity Ball

After a careful review of the proposed budget, Mission Council believes that the only area that can be realistically reduced is salaries. There are hard choices to be made. Mission Council feels that the budget needs to be cut and presents these figures to you for your consideration:

With a full-time priest the deficit will be: $56,800.60

With a supply priest and a deacon; the deficit will be: $18, 800.60

After much prayer and discussion, the Mission Council now asks for your help, input and suggestions on what needs to be done going forward.

(Much discussion ensued.)

After listening to your comments and suggestions, I want to say that I appreciate your love and support but I also need to say that this is not about me. Grace was here doing ministry before I came and it will be here after I am gone. You need to understand that you are able and capable of doing God’s work in this place and you don’t need me to do that.

You need to make choices that will make Grace a viable and growing church. When we spoke with bishop Breidenthal and he talked about Common Mission, I told him that I thought we were already doing it here at Grace. So please know that Grace will continue to be a growing and vibrant place with your support.

Let us pray,

O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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