This report was delivered to the Annual Vestry of the Parish of Mississippi Lake on Sunday, February 25th, 2018. The Parish of Mississippi Lake includes St James’ Carleton Place, St J0hn’s Innisville and St James’ Franktown.
There is good news in the Parish of Mississippi Lake!
St James Carleton Place had a budget deficit in 2017 that was alarming. By the end of the year, we had a small (but mighty!) surplus. Offerings were up thanks to the Journey in Faith financial initiative. Based on the information we received from those who participated, we have every reason to believe that this increase will to carry forward into 2018. Building on this good work, I am confident our focus on Christian stewardship practices combined with smart financial management will bring the budget into balance. Until then, I am inspired by the willingness and dedication of the people in this church who consistently rise to the challenge.
The transition to an Area Parish reduced costs for Franktown and Innisville, which certainly helps. But the really good news is that budgets for 2018 are balanced, and St John’s is going to be able to repay about half of what they owe in past remittances to the Diocese. The ministry of these small churches is vital and essential to the life of the people they serve and the communities in which they are placed, and we have proved that the new model works.
There have been challenges. St James Carleton Place lost important and valued members of the congregation this year, and at several times I have witnessed a collective grief enfolding us. Ralph Langtry would never have wanted to be counted as more than one of God’s beloved children, yet I think we can all agree the impact of losing his ministry is staggering. Other losses are just as deeply felt.
The flu season has been hard on many of us this year. Church attendance has suffered. And yet, the worship we offer and service we render has not faltered or failed. Welcoming new ministry, in the person of the Reverend Rosemary Parker, and in the form of Advent and Lenten Retreats, Family Fun Gatherings, craft days and study groups give us the opportunity to share faith with one another. The ministry of Lay Readers across the parish is a real game-changer. We have already enjoyed a taste of Ian Guenette’s gifts, and I am excited to see what happens when he assumes the position of Director of Music in May of this year.
I truly believe God has led us to this moment, and it is a good place for us to be. But like the disciples who went up the high mountain and experienced the Transfiguration, staying where we are today is not an option. The mission of Jesus takes us down the mountain, and out into the real world.
We have important work to do related to anticipated growth in Carleton Place and parts of Beckwith Township. We have assets and strengths that we should bring to bear before the opportunities that are before us pass us by. But we need a plan.
A sound plan for financial development and property management will provide for ministry for years to come. A discerned response to God’s call to mission – to teach, baptize, and nurture new believers; to respond to human need by loving service – will provide focus in a day and age when everything seems like a priority. A commitment to congregational development will ensure we are responsive to everyone God sends our way.
This is the year, I believe, for us to engage in a planning process that meets these objectives. A successful process will involve everyone throughout the organization. It will be based in our values and reflect what we believe to be essential to our identity as followers of Jesus. It will involve study and research. It will take into account the strengths and weaknesses of our congregations and have insight into the ministry environment in which we are placed. It will be championed by lay and clergy leaders. Ownership by the Church and Parish Council will ensure we follow through with its recommended actions and strategies.
I am asking the Councils of the Parish to devote time on their agendas to the establishment, implementation and monitoring of a ministry plan for the next 3-5 years. This will involve the work of a dedicated team and the participation of a great many more. In my experience it can be exciting and invigorating work, especially when we have good news behind us and before us.
There is good news today in the parish, but there is even better news yet to come. The good news God has in store for us will be found in following the mission of Jesus to the lost, those who long for human and divine connection or who are isolated because of needs and impediments beyond their control. In the direction Jesus leads us we will find Resurrection and Life, not only for ourselves, but for all God’s children. What better news could there be, and to what other purpose would we dedicate our time, talents and treasure?
- The Venerable Brian Kauk, Incumbent