This will be my last contribution to the Sheepskin, so I thought I would offer some thoughts about Good Shepherd and about what I see as some of the key strengths of the congregation as you move forward during this time of transition to new leadership.
Over the past several years the congregation has matured and grown in several areas, and has laid a strong foundation for future growth.
- To my knowledge Good Shepherd is one of a handful of Episcopal Churches in the Diocese that has built a successful blended music program on Sunday mornings. This is no mean feat since blending/integrating contemporary music and traditional music from the Episcopal Hymnal has often been the source of conflict in congregations.
- Good Shepherd has established its identity as an inclusive parish that welcomes gays and lesbians, and sanctions the marriage of same-sex couples. Although parishioners are not all of the same mind when it comes to same-sex marriage, people have decided that the parish will be a welcoming congregation for all.
- Building on an established foundation, Good Shepherd has expanded opportunities for parishioners to get involved in outreach fundraising and engage with the wider community through the annual Pumpkin Patch and the Music with a Mission concert series. Despite the temptation to become insular and inwardly focused, parishioners have demonstrated a desire to look outside the church walls and to discover ways to be more actively involved in the wider community.
- Good Shepherd parishioners are beginning to give a higher priority to spiritual growth and faith formation. Small group programs on Sunday and throughout the week are providing multiple opportunities for adults to grow in their faith and to explore different practices that can strengthen their spiritual lives.
I believe that these four core strengths will figure prominently in any future efforts to attract newcomers and to promote the parish to prospective Rector candidates.
Before we leave, Ann and I want to thank everyone who attended our “goodbye” party on April 7, and who donated to the goodbye “purse” that was given to us at the party. We are overwhelmed by your generosity and touched by the many cards and kind thoughts we have received from parishioners. Good Shepherd will always have a place in our hearts and we will cherish the friendships we have made during the past thirteen years.
Blessings and best wishes,