The Pastor’s Annual Report – 2012
“hope — a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it – together”
was the stirring stanza that crowned the 2013 Inauguration poem, by Richard Blanco, Cuban- American professor and poet who was the first Latino and openly gay participant in a presidential inauguration. Those lyric words, echoing across the frigid January skies, invoked a sense of community and possibility whose contours glisten from the heavens, awaiting us to chart them, together.
Stargaze, if you will, with me a moment, as I point out bright lights anchoring this new constellation of hope which our congregation is mapping together.
Witness – Worship is a celebration where we share God’s goodness among ourselves and with our community. Over the past year our liturgy has been marked by members’ testimonies of faith. Liturgy, its Latin root reminds us, is always and ever “the work of the people.” These brilliant testimonies have sharpened our reflection, been occasions for honesty, inspired caring, and pointed to the movement of God in our midst. And our prayer ministry, whose constant dedication during and following worship, moved out from the sanctuary and into the streets and grocery aisles where God also dwells – praying publicly and boldly for justice for farmworkers at Trader Joe’s and Stop & Shop. Here the prayer ministry has raised its Ebenezer, charting sacred space amidst daily life. Sprouting out from our church’s tree planting and dedication in honor of Dr. Wangari Matthai, were tree plantings at local elementary schools, nurtured by our church’s gifts of books and trees and, most of all, inspiration. We gathered close in our sanctuary on Thanksgiving eve with ecumenical neighbors from the Church in the Highlands and Sisters of Divine Compassion, our thanksgivings shaped deeply by Hurricane Sandy, full of strength and hardship, stretching toward each other. This was the prelude to what will be the first interfaith community-wide Thanksgiving Eve service this coming year. Whether going out or welcoming in, our congregation’s worship is a star, shimmering brightly.
Growth in Financial Stewardship – Stars are ever in motion, being born, soaring through the sky, burning with speed and direction on their goal’s trajectory. Our financial stewardship is an ascending star, increasing in strength and power. Just two years ago, our members pledged $107,000 to the congregation’s ministry and mission. In 2013, our members pledged $151,000. And this is not simply an increase in numbers. Financial giving is spread more evenly across the congregation and there are an increased number of pledgers as well. What this means is that we have the resources to undertake new ministry and face new challenges in a more sustainable way, together. The star of financial stewardship is on the rise.
Education for Everyone – Stars have a lifespan. Like us they are born, mature, and, eventually, die. In each stage of their life they have a different constitution and will constantly be moving. Our education program is similarly vital – glistening with new opportunities for people of every age to learn and grow in God’s way. From our new pre-school class, to the mission trip of high school and young adults, to the two new bible studies, we confess that a life of faith is always an exciting journey of stretching and yearning and engaging. And we’re studying with body, heart, mind and spirit. Whether through fingers stirring up clouds of “desert” sand in the Godly Play curriculum or when sharing dinner as well as our own experiences as we study, education is lifelong and glowing in this congregation.
When I see this constellation of stars, it awakens me anew to the dream God has, the hope God has for our congregation.
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established,” wonders the Psalmist to God, “what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” It is truly incredible that in the midst of this vast and intricate universe, swirls our loving God, creator, redeemer and sustainer of us all.
With thanksgiving for God’s presence in our midst and for the journey ahead, I invite you to join me in “mapping hope’s constellation” as we walk toward God’s future, together.