When I took this job, I decided that it wouldn’t be fair to talk about my own parish a lot. It’s worth saying though that the Parish of St. Michael and All Angels in St. John’s has taken some pretty big chances. At a parish meeting in April (2022), they decided to buck the trend, and rather than cut ministry, sell the building. We all know that money is tight in our churches these days, and tough decisions have to be made. I’m not saying that this is right for every congregation, but the church isn’t the building: it’s the people and the ministry.
Is this a risk? Yes it is. Is it scary? 100% yes; I know that I’ve lost sleep, and so have many others. But what are we, the Church, really here for? We need to prioritize our ministry to the wider community; we need to have the time to attend Bible studies and learning groups in order to increase our understanding and to grow theologically; maybe we need to put money into a music program to enhance our worship; we need to be able to spend time in the worship of God, and be at peace, not constantly fretting about oil and electric bills (or a mortgage).
Living in a constant state of heightened anxiety is draining emotionally, spiritually, and physically; those of us who have been fighting for these churches for years and years now are tired. How much time to do you take any more for the true worship of God? How much for Christian education? Is your church a place where you find peace, or one that causes you stress and worry all the time?
I sincerely hope that many of you are reading this from a parish where you are able to focus on all of the good and important things, but if you’re not, ask yourself why not.
Things are constantly changing, and God is always challenging us. The pandemic has thrown us all a huge curveball—none of us saw this coming, and it’s given us huge challenges to overcome. But these challenges can come with excitement and with new possibilities for growth. One of the truest things that I have heard in a long time about the Church is that those of us on the inside often don’t want things to change because we are the ones that things are working for. But if we really want to spread the Gospel and the love of God to the world, which is what we are all called to do, we shouldn’t waste energy maintaining things that we don’t need.