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Monthly Archives: May 2006

Home, Sweet Home

It is always good to get back home. No matter where I visit, or how wonderful it was while I was there, I am always happy to pull into the driveway and shut off the car. Walking into my own home is such a comforting experience. There is always the sense of  relief to be home and the knowledge that I will settle down to rest in our own bed. I had three good days in Rochester, but I am delighted to be home. I best not get too comfortable…I have a two day meeting coming up soon as well.


There was so much information to digest these past three days. In fact, having just sat down and looking over my notes from the course I cannot believe how much could be squeezed into that short period of time.


The course was called “Raising the Roof.” Its focus was on congregations that are growing from pastoral to program size. (Pastoral size parishes have an average weekly attendance of 50-150,  program is 150 – 400 in average attendance). This course is designed to help clergy assist parishes in the transition. At an average attendance of 160, St. Mark’s by-the-Lake is in that transition.  We have experienced growth and can no doubt experience even more. In the book and the course “Raising the Roof,” Alice Mann states that congregations like ours see ourselves as open and welcoming – we in fact are. But she goes on to say that reluctance to “expand capacity in ways that would permit net growth….is to post and effective ‘no vacancy’ sign” over the door. She makes clear that many newcomers will get the message and go away. Some of the obstacles include 80 % of seating taken up on a regular basis – we are there.  How about this quote – “Parking is filled up if there is no convenient space obvious to the newcomer who arrives five minutes before the service starts.” Does this sound familiar to you? If you are a member of St. Mark’s by-the-Lake it probably sounds very familiar.


What was very encouraging in these past couple of days was learning about parishes success in overcoming these barriers and others. But the greatest part of the course was being in a room with 35 clergy all of them a part of successful and growing congregations. It was helpful to have formal and social time with clergy who are facing many of the same issues that I face in a growing congregation.


We now have a committee of 12 people named Markus and another 25 or so people who will make subcommittees of Markus. How exciting that we have engaged on a process of learning about ourselves this year. It is our hope that by January 2007 we will have looked seriously at who we are and how we serve the community around us. I now know that we have already begun to do that which church growth experts like Alice Mann encourage congregations to do. We hope that we can identify our “no vacancy” signs and remove them where possible.


I am looking forward to June 1st when we have a significant meeting of Markus and all of its subcommittees. Times are exciting at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. I’m also looking forward to getting to bed tonight.

A Long day in a course

Having a good time here. Lots of work though. I have been in class all day and still have a little bit to go. The internet service at the hotel has not been working right and I have not been able to get on here with any consistence to blog. There are so many things that are helpful in the course and applicable to day to day ministry in growth settings.


Back home tomorrow after classes in the morning.


Cheers for now!

Lots of Learning


Today was a long day with lots of learning and great conversation about growing church. I will be back to t. mark’s in a couple of days, no doubt armed with lots of good questions. While I was having good dialogue with 35 church leaders from across North America, Catherinanne saw some of the neat city. You can see pictures in the photo section.


I have met many people today with great stories of growth in the church. This is very inspiring as we all know that many of the conversations we all have are rooted in survival. The common thread seems to be lay strength. St. Mark’s is fortunate that we have strong lay leaders who drive change. Thank God for a good group of lay ministers. I was proud to speak of all of them today.

On Missing Birthdays

Robert Frost is certainly one of my favourite poets. He was credited with saying, “A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age.”


I am many things, yesterday I was not a diplomat. I missed my sister’s birthday. Now oddly enough, Elaine was on my mind yesterday – perhaps that is why. Maybe tucked away in the recess of my mind was that morsel of knowledge.


Elaine above all people deserves to have her birthday remembered. She is the one person who will always send a card or a note for every occasion. I learned a whole lot from each of my siblings. Elaine taught me the value of caring. She is also the one that everyone says … “Kevin, you look a lot like your sister.” And I say – “Thank you – she is a beautiful woman, and a wonderful person.”


So today I say today – late… “Happy Birthday Elaine.” You have a strong faith and great sense of love for those around you. I wish I could be there so that we could share a laugh, a hug and a story or two. No one will believe that you are 53. Like good wine, you only get better with age. There I go again, no diplomcy – I was supposed to forget her age wasn’t I. Maybe I cannot be fixed! I love you, Elaine!     (Elaine is the one on the right in the photo)

Radio, Social Occassions & Church Growth


NOTE: Those who are used to tuning into CBC 1550 for “Jump Start Trivia” on Monday mornings you may have been dismayed this morning as it was a holiday. Don’t fret. It will air tomorrow morning at 6:40 AM. Tune in if in Windsor or listen live on line anywhere in the world at  http://www.cbc.ca/windsor/audio/index.html.


We had a marvellous time at church yesterday – with great attendance at both liturgies especially for a long weekend. Jane was back yesterday as well which was exciting for all of us. Welcome back Jane – We missed you.

Yesterday was also a day of socials. We had a great time at Maureen Pasnik’s house. Many Thanks to you Maureen for your kind hospitality. It was a lovely brunch. I believe all who attended had a marvellous time. You can always count on a good party at Maureen’s house.


The evening brought a great birthday dinner for young Christopher Hornby. Chris turned 24 yesterday and we certainly enjoyed celebrating with him and with Lynne, Dave, Allyson, Enid and Brian. It was a great dinner, splendid company and a good occasion. We all love Chris and he brings a great deal of joy to all of our lives. Happy Birthday buddy. I look forward to many more Wednesdays with you and the Arby’s gang.


Today was a travel day for us. We had dinner with Catherinanne’s sister and her family. Chrim and Shawn and Julia and Sarah were great host and we were pleased to have time with them en route to Rochester. Thanks so much for dinner and for the tour.


I am looking forward to the next two days of learning. St. Mark’s is alive and it is growing. It is a Vital Congregation and we are at a place where growth for us not just something we are experiencing but it is as well the next natural step in our journey as a community. The prospect of the growth we see ahead of us means there is a lot of work to do. I want to be as well equipped for that part of our journey as I can. Alice Mann has done great work to help church leaders with the transition in parish size. Tomorrow I will meet this author of “Raising the Roof,” and I hope to glean as much wisdom from her as possible. The course that I am doing is sponsored by the Alban institute which is a hardworking body that is a wealthy resource to any church leader. You can visit their page at http://www.alban.org.


You can learn more about Alice Mann’s book raising the roof by reading chapter one of at http://www.alban.org/pdf/chapters/Chap_AL243.pdf


Anyone who would like to read more can borrow a copy of her book from me at anytime.


Stay tuned to the blog for pearls of wisdom. Hopefully there will be tonnes of them!




Today I Smell like dirt!


Lots of planting today – the gardens are looking good.

While we tilled the soil my mind was with all of you in NL who were at the funeral. I planted a Flowering Maple. This is a beautiful plant it will live in a planter outside in the summer and reside in my office in the winter. I baptised him – “Robert Plant”


It was a good way to spend the day while my mind was really elsewhere.

It is a glorious day here – the sunshine was lovely – we have had so much rain lately I almost forgot how great the sun is. In nay event I was warm, I was occupied, I was in the earth, I was in touch with the sacred and I was present with my family – even though I could not be there.


Cheers for now – gotta go water Robert Plant!

Do you smell like dirt?


Margaret Atwood said “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”


Congratulations Catherinanne. You have fulfilled that purpose. You smell like dirt. Catherinanne and I love the garden. We had very little knowledge or desire for that part to do a lot with the mess that we inherited for gardens here at the rectory. A few years ago everything changed. With some assistance from parishioners we were able to get perennials from many peoples gardens. The result is a lush full large perennial garden that gives joy to our heart daily every spring and summer. Catherinanne really gets into it. Today she was out in the garden – pulling weeds and planting some annuals. Tonight she smells like dirt.


Last year we added a garden at the front of the house. We planted some things there last year but this year we have supplemented it with a Mulberry tree as well as a juniper. I also gave Catherinanne a lilac tree for Easter that we planted at the side of the house. We both like what we see. It gives us great joy to see the flowers as they spread and grow.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said “the earth laughs in flowers.” Perhaps that is why I have come to love the garden so much. I love to laugh and every one of those flowers as it opens brings me great joy. I like the fact that we can bring life to something – make it grow. I can’t wait for tomorrow. We will plant some more. Perhaps as the family are gathered in prayer for a funeral I can plant a perennial in memory of Robert. I’ll name it Robert Plant! It will remind me of how great God’s love is. The great thing about this time of year is that while I watch everything die in the fall I am given new hope in April and May as the plants are resurrected. Yeah – I think I’ll put in a perennial tomorrow. “All of us go down to the earth, yet even at the grave we make our song; Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”


Watch for photos of the garden tomorrow.

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