Annual Parish Meeting- Rector's Report

Rector’s Report 2016

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  God is so good!  I say it again, God is so good!  Looking back over this past year in preparing for this report, I’m able to see afresh the innumerable ways that He has blessed us, and is blessing us, as a congregation.  For starters, throughout the year He has continued to grow all of us in our love and knowledge of Him through Word and Sacrament.  Many of you have testified to this fact, telling me how you feel that you are growing in your knowledge of Scripture and in your sense of thanksgiving for what God has done for you in Christ. In this, we should thank God for being true to His promises to prune each one of us so that new, good fruit might come forth.  He has done this, and we hope and pray that He continues to do this by His Spirit.
Beyond this, it has been amazing to see how God has cared for us as a congregation over the last year.  Admittedly, we entered 2016 on shaky feet.  Upon the resignation of our Parish Administrator and our Family and Youth Ministries Director, we had large holes in the life of our congregation.  Couple this with our financial uncertainties as we entered the new year and you have a recipe for some level of panic and worry.  But thanks be to God, none of us got overly panicked.  We trusted in the Lord and continued to pray for His provision in these matters. And look how things turned out!  Over the course of the year, we had Charlie Bee step up to help in a volunteer capacity in the Parish Administrator department.  We were directed to a wonderful bookkeeper, Michele Brantley, a member of Trinity Episcopal Church here in Fredericksburg, whom we hired. We have been blessed by her organization and good management of our finances.  In addition to this, at the end of the year, after much prayer and a concerted effort on my part to identify what we truly needed, we hired a new Youth Ministry Director, Samantha Bouchard.  (We certainly look forward to all that Sam will bring to this ministry in 2017!)  And to top it all off, despite the deficit budget that we entered 2016 with, God provided bountifully for us and allowed us to end the year with a larger income than we projected and with some extra cash in our account.  God has certainly taken good care of us!
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another way that God has blessed us in 2016.  Upon the resignation of our parish secretary, Theresa Faulkner, in August, after a short search we hired Madeline Johannes, who has proved to be a wonderful addition to the office staff.  Although Madeline is not in the office five days a week like Theresa, she has worked diligently and self-sacrificially to see that the work of the office is carried out smoothly and professionally.  
Even when we had unexpected challenges in 2016, God still came through for us.  In July we discovered that our roof needed to be replaced and Chuck Dettmann and the Vestry did a wonderful job of expediting the process of getting the roof replaced.  Likewise, when in December when it was determined that both the heater and air conditioner in the Parish House had failed, Chuck and the Vestry got the needed repairs made quite quickly.  In both situations, God blessed us with the money to get the projects completed.
 That said, I would like to say a word or two about the Vestry.  The members of the Vestry – Chuck Dettmann, John Ball, Betti Small, Murray Cheston, Darcey Wakeman, and Betty Massey, who was later replaced by Al Creel when she was unable to continue due to health issues – have worked tirelessly for you to see that we are being good stewards of what God has given us here and to see that the congregation continues to live into our mission statement.  Each person on the Vestry has a been a blessing to the life of this congregation in their role as Vestry member whether you have seen it or not.  Decisions are always made with the question, “What is best for the congregation?” in mind.  I thank each member of the Vestry for their willingness to answer this call.  And I am thankful especially for the hard work that Chuck Dettmann has given in his role as Senior Warden.
There are, of course, many other things that I could say about how God has been at work in Church of the Messiah in 2016.  We got a new website nicely designed by Matthew Kroelinger.  Despite the loss of some dearly missed parishioners, we have gained 25 + new attendees, and had a great newcomers luncheon in the Fall.  We had several truly enjoyable parish social events thanks to Darcey Wakeman, Holly Tomlin, and Betti Small.  And we had a really fun Time and Talent event in September, which Chuck Dettmann and Betti Small did a great job of executing.  And on and on the list could go.  (I beg your forgiveness if I’ve forgotten any of you. So many of you do so much that’s often hard to keep track of it all.)
So where do we go in 2017?  Well, we keep going where we’re going.  The Lord is leading this church.  It’s His church not ours.  We must always remember that.  We are called to remain faithful and to follow where He leads.  No doubt we do and will have some challenges as we move forward.  But these only serve to make us rely on the Lord all the more.  The difficulties of life are there to strengthen our faith.  We have seen this this past year.  We must always remember that it is God in Christ who has called us into His Church; it is God who keeps us in the Church by the power of His Holy Spirit; and it is God who will bear fruit in us as the Church.  So my council to you as your Priest and pastor for 2017 is this:  Keep coming to church, keep listening to God in His Word, keep praying, and keep sharing the Good News.  If we do these things we are doing what God has called us to do.  The rest we leave to Him.
Your father in Christ,