1) A Growing Community: Several wonderful people joined the Saint David’s family. The result is greater vitality even despite several significant losses. We had to say goodbye to Rich Seaver, Ed Toon, Elsie Gevry, and Marcia Barker, members of our parish family who died. Christine Hanna lives on, but moved to South Carolina. And still we grew.
2) Christian Formation: We continued our regular round of Bible study and other seasonal formation programs. A few of us read the entire Bible in 2018. But the big change was adding a reasonably regular Contemplative Prayer Group. I am hoping that group will meet at least once a month going forward.
3) Expanded Outreach: Here, too, we continued our established outreach programs. I think particularly of the Agawam Christmas and Easter Projects, our ongoing work with the Parish Cupboard, and our monthly Church without walls service. We also doubled the outreach line in our budget, which enabled us to expand the ministries we support financially. And we have continued to host various twelve step program meetings, including adding a new Narcotics Anonymous group just this week. We also did some outreach through worship. We welcomed a few visitors at our weekly healing service, and we hosted the ecumenical Blue Christmas service for the Agawam Clergy Association.
4) Spirited Worship: The growth in our parish family has translated into more people at worship, which adds Spirit. The choir continues to lead us in making a joyful noise. And we have been blessed with new voices in the pulpit. Craig Hammond preached a couple of guest sermons. But I am thinking particularly of the wit and wisdom shared by the Rev. Scot Seabury and the Rev. Domenic Ciannella. We are counting on more of the same next year!
5) Honoring our history: Thanks to heroic work by Bob Rendrick and Larry Dutton, we have essentially finished the stained glass windows project. All ten windows that we brought with us when we moved out of the old Church building are now installed and lit. Our dedication service was one of the biggest of the year, and included Andy Parke (widow of Father John Parke) and some of her family, as well as Roger Tyler (son of Father John Tyler) and his wife.
6) Lightening our load: We sold the rectory! We rented it for nearly seven years, but managing the property was becoming a burden. The proceeds of the sale have been invested with the Trustees of the Diocese and should generate a little over $8000 in income each year. Best of all, we don’t have to worry about it anymore!
7) Looking forward: The vestry signed a contract with a company to build a car-port and install solar panels on top. We pay nothing and will receive a little over $4000 each year when the system goes operational. We will be the first Church in our area and the first Episcopal Church in the entire Diocese of Western Massachusetts to go solar!
8) Children’s Ministry: Our Children’s Ministry has seen steady growth over the last few years. We now have a special event each month, as well as a fully staffed and well-attended Sunday School class each week. This year it was particularly exciting to have one of our older youth join the teaching staff for our Sunday School!
9) Parish Life: We continued our normal round of fun events: breakfast between services on Sundays, as well as coffee hour after the 10:00 services; a picnic; game day; free concerts; Trunk or Treat; Community Suppers; the Holiday Bazaar; and a Christmas party. This year we added a Fashion Show(!) and raffles for fun events as well: tickets to a Red Sox game and a Thunderbirds game. These opportunities for fellowship help to tie us together as a Church family.
10) This one is self-serving. But we had a glorious service when I made my lifetime profession as a Third Order Franciscan. The music was grand, and Bishop Scruton preached. It was one of the most memorable services of my entire life.