From Our Vicar
Whenever I think of ministries of the local church that identify the mission and soul of that faith community and thereby provide a point of acknowledgment within the town or city where it resides, I often think of outreach. Why outreach? Maybe outreach ministry is one of the initial vital signs taken by newcomers, or maybe it’s children’s ministries or music and liturgy? Whatever vital sign you may take for yourself when you go to a new place and want to engage in a faith community, there is an initial assessment you will do whether conscious or unconscious. We do this within our interpersonal relationships too, especially when we meet a new person.
Don’t we repeatedly do this once over, even after meeting someone several times? Yet, the initial impression is retained and recalled during every encounter. Some of us are even more proficient with our once overs and we do the twice over or multiple overs in a single split second glance. We scan and quickly judge the ‘book by its cover’. Organizations (churches) are often recipients of this very natural human behavior. But, here’s where outreach becomes crucial to the vitality of a faith community.
The crux of it is, that Outreach Ministry is the only way that anyone, not a member or affiliate of St. Bart’s, will know what we stand for by observing who we stand with and accompany in Grace. Sure our mission and vision statements are on our website and we borrow the brand name and marketing tools of The Episcopal Church to identify with a particular denomination, yet it is our actions that truly matter and get observed, assessed, and judged by new comers every single day of the week.
Outreach Ministry is also referred to in academic institutions as Service Learning and students receive college credit for their efforts. As students become more competent in a given discipline there is more fine tuning of skill sets as leaders are developed. Sometimes we enter into Applied Leadership seminars and workshops, immersions and exposures to recalibrate old skills or fine tune new ones. Whatever we may call this sector, there is an inevitable take away that has the potential to land or stick in the long-term memory banks (c.f., muscle memory) of co-participants. The only way to learn and attain anything in life is by getting involved and practicing through multiple repetitions. Jesus the Christ comes to us in our daily lives and reaches out to us in love and charity. That love is to be transformed on our receiving hearts and passed on to others, whom we really want to call dear neighbors. Go! Get out there! Let yourself go and see your faith grow in brave new relationships, right relations that always fulfill God’s dream of your life. Every warrior of compassion rise strong and allow your bonnet to be your crown of courage and generosity.
Fr. ~ Matthew