Tonight Bishop Bob Bennett visited our Markus Committee to hear us talk about ministry at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. It was a positive and productive meeting. Over 40 people who have been meeting now since June were there to update each other and the bishop on our progress. There was a great optimism in our dialogue. Markus was started in January to look at the parish and examine how we are dealing with our growth and how we might manage future growth. It was a group of 10 appointed by the rector with the advice and guidance of the four wardens of the church. The mandate was to look at all aspects of ministry The group assembled for the first time in February and began its work. In April Markus went to the congregation and invited participation and topics which include – Outreach, Youth Ministry, Plant (Church Property), Communication, New Member Management, Staffing and Resources, Adult Christian Education, and Ministry/Pastoral Care. In two coffee hours and be over 30 people signed on to do their duty as the people of God. It has been wonderful to hear the great dialogue and conversations that have been taking place since. To see committees meet through the summer and be productive is a real thrill. Churchland often does not work that well. We are proving otherwise. To hear all of the feedback tonight was to hear a people of God who have been at work for many weeks now and who actually care.
Our Bishop was very excited to hear the people of this parish make the case for continued growth. Bob Bennett reassured everyone present that the Diocese journeys with us as we move forward. I have no idea where all of this will lad. I do know that we have issues we must face. We are regularly at more than 80 % of our seating at the 10:30 Mass. Church growth research has shown empirically that there is a problem and risk with inaction, of regressing instead of moving forward. But beyond the space issues we have to find more effective ways of continuing to open our variety of ministries to the many who are seeking open and tolerant communities of love and respect. The great probing conversations that have taken place around how we do ministry together here have been great. We need to have these conversations because being a community which ministers at less that 150 people a week and being a community which ministers to over 150 people a week are two very different things.
I am excited by the work of Markus. I am grateful to Scott Shields who chairs the Markus Committee of 10. He has kept all of us (the team leaders) on task with our teams to keep meeting and keep progressing toward our goal of reporting to Vestry in January of 2007 with recommendations for how to move forward with being a community of hope in this corner of the world. I am so pleased and thankful for all of the 40 + people who have engaged in this process. Let’s keep talking, questioning, praying about who we are and how we need to respond to our changing world. It is not all easy – But then again neither was it easy for Jesus of Nazareth. But we follow where he leads and we serve! My God guide us all on our Journey!