Sunday 8:15 a.m. Holy Eucharist Rite I
nave & online: Zoom
Sunday 10:45 a.m. Holy Eucharist Rite II
nave & online: Facebook/website
Tuesday 8:00 p.m. Compline
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Eucharist
The Grace Church nave is located at the corner of Washington Street and Boulevard in Gainesville, Georgia.
The parish office, open Monday through Thursday from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, is located at 422 Brenau Avenue. Come to the red door that faces Brenau Avenue and ring the bell for access.
Mailing Address: 422 Brenau Avenue, Gainesville, GA 30501
I promise I will do my best to keep this short, but I did want to follow up with you and share a very important update on both our budget planning and visioning for 2022. If you would take the time to read this post or watch the video (same information in both), I would appreciate it. The parish needs to know where we are when it comes to our budget and plans for next year.
I am deeply grateful for you.
These past two years have been intense. I don’t say this to bemoan what we have gone through, but to look it square in the eyes and see what we have learned from the experience. I have learned a lot, and am still learning a lot about my own vocation and our shared life as a parish.
It should be clear now that “Church” is evolving, changing, growing. We will not just stop the way we worship or share our life, but we do see now that the way we “are church” has changed. We are a hybrid community, with some folks sharing in the life of the parish only online. The staff and vestry have worked to do everything we can think of to create an online platform that will continue to expand as we explore new opportunities for community building, spiritual formation, worship, and pastoral care.
I look at how our worship life has grown, and I am in awe of the way folks have dared to look at new platforms for prayer. I look at how the staff shifted to online classes and retreats, and how they are still looking at hybrid spaces with both in-person and online gatherings. I look and see how our outreach committee and pastoral care team have worked tirelessly to reach out and see to others’ needs and concerns. This past year, from our outreach operating budget, the endowment funds, and my discretionary account, we worked very hard to find ways to support those who are in need, and I am deeply, deeply proud of the work this parish did in very difficult times. After checking with our community partners, we see where more needs are in the broader community. I’ll get to that in a minute.
I also look and see how the staff and vestry have cared for the building. We have learned that spaces matter. Place matters. When we couldn’t worship in the nave, it hurt our souls. I will never take it for granted again, I can promise you that. We have also learned how important heat is when you have an aging boiler, and I’ll get to that in a minute.
When it comes to spiritual formation, I would argue that our practice of prayer is the core, the absolute heart of our common life. It is our prayer that nurtures us and encourages us to rest more and more in God’s presence. This time of year, especially, we remember to pay attention and expect God to show up in surprising ways. We have been challenged as we recognize even more how the different age groups in the community have distinct needs. It has not been easy to navigate ten decades of life, which is what we are blessed to have as a parish. For 2022, we have a renewed focus on the life and prayer of our young adults, those with kids and those without, those married and those who are single.
In order to respond to these opportunities, in order to faithfully respond to the Spirit’s call, we are all challenged to invest in our common life. Grace is fortunate that around 60% of our parishioners pledge and make a financial commitment to the common life of this parish. This is actually “good” for an Episcopal Church, and I am grateful for it. But I do wonder what it would be like if every single household and person in the parish made some commitment as we prepare the budget. I wonder what that would be like to make that commitment.
Some do not make a pledge but contribute financially throughout the year, and I am grateful for that. And I want to be clear here: I am not grateful that you give to the church like it is giving to another agency or charity. I am grateful that you feel led to invest in your own spiritual growth by making a commitment to the community that supports you. That is what this means, and I think we all see why this matters now.
So, looking at next year, I want to share that we are getting closer to our goal for pledges. So many have made a commitment, and it warms my heart–especially after the past two years. Others have wrestled with frustration and even anger at some of the disruptions. I get it. Others have never made a financial commitment, because it just isn’t part of their experience. We are getting close to the goal that will enable us to really step into 2022 with momentum, but we have just a bit to go. Our current pledge total is $960,000 toward our goal of $1.1 million. This is our “all hands on deck” moment.
If I’m honest with you, I believe that this is a watershed moment for this community. I think the Spirit is calling us to invest in one another at a crucial point in our life, the life of the community, the nation, and the world. It matters that we have “stuck together” if you will, when so much around us seems to want to tear folks apart. It matters to me. It matters that I see parents making a renewed commitment to raising their kids in a community that supports their spiritual growth and the development of their character. If we don’t invest in this and nurture our spiritual life, the culture is very happy to do it for us. I say this as both a priest and a father of a teenager.
So, I’m thankful for those who have made a commitment for 2022. I’m grateful for the spiritual practice that you have taken on. And I sincerely ask, if you have not done so, that you consider investing in this remarkable community. At this point, you need only email Reba Page and she can record your commitment.
We are working on the budget, and we have key priority points that I want to briefly lay out for you.
So, that’s all I have. I wanted to write and share this from my heart, how deeply grateful I am for this parish and how sincerely excited I am for us as we step into 2022. In the coming years that we will share together, I am deeply excited about the ways the Spirit is inviting us to go deeper and imagine what Christian community will look like. The Spirit is very much present, very much at work, and we are honored to listen to that call and step forward with hope and peace and love.
The heart of my vocation rests with the contemplative tradition, and the wisdom there tells us that God is present in every aspect of our lives, guiding and nurturing us. We are called to develop a greater awareness of this presence so that our lives are transformed and we can share our gifts with the world, bringing light to dark places–just as others bring light into our dark times. We recognize our union with one another, and we give thanks for the blessings that we have.