1) Prayer: The anchor of our prayer life as a parish will always be our Sunday worship. But I hope that we can all continue to grow in our personal prayer lives this year. One option is our new Contemplative Prayer Group, which I hope will grow and become a more regular part of our life as a community of faith. But my greater goal is that all of us can commit to daily prayer in 2019, perhaps using one or more of the Daily Offices in the Prayerbook.
2) Bible Study: We will continue our regular routine of weekly Bible Studies. But we are making a change in our program of reading the Bible at home. For the last few years, a handful of us have read the entire Bible in a year. This year, our focus is just the New Testament. It is shorter (roughly five chapters a week or one chapter each weekday will get us through the whole thing) and more accessible, so I am hoping for much broader participation. To that end, I will include the chapters for the week in my weekly e-mail messages as well as in our Sunday bulletins.
3) Outreach: I hope and presume we will continue to make an impact in our community and around the world. Our global efforts come through the United Thank Offering and our annual Diocesan Assessment (money we send to the Diocese, some percentage of which goes to global mission) as well as by promoting the work of Episcopal Relief and Development. Our more local efforts are mostly directed to the Parish Cupboard and to needy children in Agawam. This year, I would love to see our prison ministry grow to give a wider range of our people an opportunity to participate in our outreach efforts.
4) Long-Term Planning: One of the goals of my summer sabbatical is to engage in some long-term planning for Saint David’s. That kind of planning is difficult in the midst of the press of ordinary business, which is what makes sabbaticals so useful. During my sabbatical itself, I’ll be working with Bishop Scruton to come up with ideas. I invite everyone in the parish to come up with ideas of your own over the summer. Then in the fall, hopefully we can have productive conversations about what we would like to see happen in the next seven years!
5) Ongoing Projects: Last year we signed a contract with Resonant Energy to construct a car-port for us, put solar panels on top, and then pay us $4000 a year. The only remaining hurdle is getting Eversource to do the necessary work to get the power generated from our panels into the grid. Hopefully they will do that!! Presuming they do, this project should be completed by the fall. I’d also like to install lights on the Saint Francis stained glass window, at which point that long-term project will be fully complete!
6) Building Upgrades: We anticipate two significant projects this year. We will probably have to replace the HVAC system on the office side of the building. This should be an efficiency upgrade and so will be part of our ongoing effort to be better stewards of God’s creation. The money for this project will come from our cash reserves. We also hope to replace the rug in the narthex with flooring. That will be the first visible result of the hard work of the Development Team over the last few years. Then comes the rug in the Church itself…..
7) Ecumenical Relationships: A strength in our area is the relationship between Churches, at least at the clergy level. Priests from the Episcopal Churches in Hamden County gather each month (hosted in January at Saint David’s). Clergy from the Agawam Churches also gather monthly (coincidentally, on the same day!!—the second Tuesday of the month). Already the Agawam Churches do a lot together, especially during Holy Week and at Thanksgiving. For the last two years, the Agawam Clergy Association has sponsored a Blue Christmas Service (at Saint David’s in 2018). We also work with Churches in Agawam and West Springfield to support the Parish Cupboard and to offer a weekly Church without walls service there. I would love to see us cooperate similarly with Episcopal Churches in our area. The Diocese is encouraging a more regional model of ministry that would bring together people from different parishes in ministry projects more or less like what the Agawam Clergy Association is already doing. Given our experience with the Agawam Churches, I believe we could be leaders in the Diocese on this.
8) Financial Stability: We have been blessed with balanced budgets for at least the last seven years even as we have engaged in regular maintenance and upgrades to our property. For the last several years, that has been due in large part to our outstanding Junior Warden and his crew of talented volunteers. Thanks to John Litchfield, we have also been gradually increasing the amount of income we derive from renting our facilities. I hope we can continue to increase our rental income in 2019. Ideally, the building will ultimately generate enough income to pay for all routine maintenance, but we have a long way to go before we get there.
9) Children’s Ministries: I hope we will continue to see growth in our Children’s Ministry. Our challenge in 2019 (and indeed a perennial challenge for virtually all Churches!) will be to staff our Sunday School. We are losing a few of our stalwarts, including Norma Turcotte who has been a devoted and gifted part of our Sunday School for many years. We are grateful to her for all that she has done for our children!!! Thankfully (!!!), Ellen Scott has agreed to serve another year as coordinator of Sunday School and Children’s Ministries. Our goal is at least four regular teachers and four assistants, with another two people willing to step in during months that have five Sundays.
10) Parish Life: We are blessed with a wonderful community spirit at Saint David’s, and that is due partly to the various parish life activities that bring us together for fun and fellowship. I am grateful to those who coordinate the various activities under the broad heading of Parish Life, including the Development Team, Children’s Ministries, the Community Supper Team, the Coffee Hour Team, and no doubt more that I am not thinking of at the moment. Special thanks are due to Susan Amabile who oversees those aspects of Parish Life not explicitly covered by other groups. I hope we will continue our normal round of Parish Life events in 2019. I also hope that we can continue to revitalize our women’s ministry (they have taken on our prison ministry) and can begin to make our own communion wine using a kit that we received from Saint Mark’s through a Diocesan Grant. Details on this will be forthcoming!