Other reports are going to present to you all a snapshot of 2012 at Good Shepherd, and since I was only here half the year, I’m sure they will do a much better job of that than I can. I would like to instead take a look into the future and paint a picture for you of where I believe we are going as a parish family.
Theological Foundations: Last Fall I gave a series of sermons designed to prepare us for the Bishop’s visit, but in reality it was more than that. It was a theological foundation for our mission and ministry as a church. It started with the great mystery of the love of God, and moved into what it means to live into that mystery, get caught up in that mystery, and work to have it transform ourselves and our world. Out of that comes the above motto, which I hope can capture something of who we seek to be. “Living the Love of God” means to live in an ever-increasing awareness of the love of God, it means to love God in return with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and it means to share the love of God with all of God’s creation, that is, to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is who I see us as, and who I see us becoming as we live and work and minister together. Within these parameters I expect, anticipate and value differences of opinion, interpretation and practice, as we enrich one another and our world with our particular gifts and graces.
Our “footprint” in Silver City: One of the questions that are often asked in congregational development circles is, “What effect would it have on this community if your parish ceased to exist?” Another way of saying that is, “What value does your parish lend to the community at large?” It is an important question, because people are not going to spend their time, energy and money involved in something that does not benefit the world somehow. I do not wish to paint ourselves as merely a social service agency, but people’s first view of the church is often through that lens, and if that lens is hard to see through or absent we fail to even have an audience for the message of love given us through Jesus Christ.
Our footprint is rather impressive, really. People know us as an inclusive church, they know us for the First Saturday Garage Sale and the Bazaar, and for the outreach ministries we have in this community. They know us as the beautiful old brick church in downtown Silver City, and almost everyone who enters here feels the presence of the Holy Spirit. (It is nice to know that our beloved building speaks of our spiritual vitality to those who enter here!) What they don’t know is what we do in this beautiful place, and how it informs our ministry. Rev. Martha has done great work in making those things clear on the web for us in our revamped website and Facebook page, and in our ads in the Desert Exposure. In reality people think favorably about Good Shepherd in Silver City, and that gives us a good platform on which to share the love of God with them.
Hispanic Ministry: One way we would like to do that is through expansion into Hispanic ministry. It is something that was part of the context of my call to this parish, and it delights me that so many of us are of Hispanic heritage, or already speak some Spanish. We have made significant preparations for it already. We have celebrated the Virgin of Guadalupe and Posadas, and I am a member of LULAC. Our relationship with LULAC is strong and good, and can lay the foundation for a mutually helpful and supportive effort.
There is more to do. I am actively recruiting musicians for Hispanic worship. Music is the key and kingpin to Hispanic worship. The language of liturgy will probably be English, but the music must be Hispanic. I would like to encourage some attendance sharing from the beginning. The experience of the church shows that when people mix and match their worship attendance there is a greater sense of cohesion in the parish and there is a much greater sense of welcome, inclusion and shared love of God (and therefore, success) than if everyone only attends the services to which they are accustomed. Who knows, you may really like it!
I have a 5-session Training Program for Parishes to address the whole question of spiritual hospitality between Anglos and Hispanics that we are planning to implement during Lent. We will be offering it on Sundays during Lent after the late service and Mondays during Lent at 5:30 p.m. so as to make it available to as wide a cross-section of Good Shepherd as possible. Please make plans to be part of this program.
We plan to have everything in place to begin a Hispanic worship experience here probably on Saturday nights beginning in September. The exact time will be determined by the new constituency.
Reaching out to previous attendees: I began my ministry here in several directions at once, one of which was to visit parishioners who for whatever reason are no longer attending. A number of these folks have rejoined our ranks, and we are grateful for their return. Others have yet to be contacted, but they are on my list. I am on a regular rotation of visits to your homes (suspended during Advent and Christmas due to everything else going on, but now to be resumed,) with special attention to shut-ins and the sick, but it includes people who need to have the church reach out to them once more. If you know of these people please speak with them yourselves if you feel comfortable doing so, and give their names to Cherie so that I can make contact with them as well.
Reaching out to potential new members: We have been growing since I arrived, and it pleases us all when we see lots of people gathered for worship and fellowship. There are still empty spots in the pews, however, and there are people in this community whose journey back to God will best be lived out among us and in this place, and who are not yet here. We need to make it a practice of being excited to share our experience of the love of God with our friends and neighbors. It is still true that most people join a church because they were brought by someone they know and trust. Remember, evangelism is sharing the things you love with the people you love.
Enhancing Outreach Ministries: We already do a lot in town, and I am extremely proud of that. It was one of the things that brought me to Good Shepherd. Here are some ways I would like to expand and enhance some of those things in which we are already involved:
Blessing of the Bikes—I would like us to have a significant presence at this event this year.
Pet Blessing—Last year we hosted an ecumenical blessing of the pets that went very well. I would like to expand the number of churches involved, invite vendors and representatives from the local veterinary offices, things like that, to make this a community-wide event.
Palomas—There are a number of us who go regularly already. This is a great opportunity for us to make a difference in a needy community close to home. Deacon Tom would like to see about adding a medical care element to the ministry…great idea!
UCM—Presence on campus, involvement on the board, directions of the Program Committee of which I am chair. We have some special plans lined out for this year, not least of which is to schedule clergy to be “clergy in residence” for certain hours every week on campus just to be available to the students for anything they might need that we can provide.
After School Program—This is already one of our stellar outreach programs of which I am extremely proud. Heather and her crew have done marvelously. I would like to continue this year building bridges to the families of these children to see how we can be of help to them.
Honduras— Our parish family is rallying around this ministry in one of the ways that counts most— volunteers. Several people are going with me to Honduras this year, including Deacon Tom and veteran Dora Somerville. A nurse from Gila Regional is raising the money to take his two daughters with him. Suzy Trujillo is working with the local physician’s association to see if we can recruit more medical professionals from the community. It is an amazing experience, and one in which we do a tremendous amount of good in a very short period of time.
Calendar: You have a tentative calendar for this year (all calendars are tentative…) You will note the big events in our plans for your information, including Sundays when I am out on leave, vacation or spiritual retreat. Stick it up on your refrigerator for constant reference.
New Clergy: As you know, Sarah Guck is finishing her course of preparation for ordination to the Deaconate. We do not have a date for ordination yet, but we do know that she will be taking her exams in early March—thank you to the SWAT Team for helping her prepare. After that she will be embarking on a Master’s in Divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge (by extension.) What you may not know is that Heather McClaren has just begun a discernment process to discover just what might be the will of God for her in relation to ordained ministry. Pray for her, for Rev. Martha who leads the team, and for their work, that God’s path for her might come clear for all.
Acknowledgements: I want to record my gratitude to many people in this parish that make life and ministry here rewarding, fulfilling and successful. First, there is what I have come to call the “Silver City Clericus.” Retired clergy who are so eager to assist here, Martha, Gene, and soon Brian and Sue, make my life so much easier. I would like to make special mention of Tom Bates. I couldn’t ask for a deacon so faithful in his duties and so dedicated to the faith and this parish. We are all continually blessed by his energy, insight, and servant’s heart. Then there is Cherie Salmon, my secretary, who is a wizard with layout and publications on the computer and a delight to work with. We are also blessed with our music ministry. Thanks to Mick for leading it, Adele and Pat who also play, the whole choir and especially the stellar music they blessed us with at Midnight Mass! Thank you to Linda Shay, Mary Harrell, and all their helpers, readers and servers, and those who do “Sacristy Work,” who work behind the scenes to make our worship go smoothly.
Thank you to Anne McCormick, Senior Warden, companion in ministry, advisor and friend. It was under your leadership that this parish called me to be your priest, and with you we have seen this parish flourish in a mere six months that I have been here. Thank you for your tireless efforts for the good of all.
Larry Himes has proved a fellow outdoorsman and a dedicated fan of Good Shepherd. His efforts as Junior Warden are greatly appreciated.
Betty Himes with her crew of Holly Peterson and Pam Kuthe work very hard to keep our finances in line, thank you for all your hard work. And thanks to them and Richard Peterson who oversee the Foundation so ably.
Thank you all who have served on the Vestry, Anne, Larry, Mick, Carol, Linda our Secretary, Joe and Griffon. The Vestry is the leadership of the parish, and you are leaders, thank you. Joe, Anne, Griffon and Mick are stepping down. As you know, we are going to a nine-person Vestry to comply with Diocesan and National Canons, so thank you to Paul, Mary, Karen, John, Dennis and Kathy who are stepping up to the plate to fulfill this essential ministry for the church.
Thanks to the hospitality crew, headed so ably by Carol Barrington, and assisted by Sara Boyett. This past fall has been very demanding on them, and they rose to the challenge like champs and laid out wonderful tables overflowing with love. Thank you also to Mitzi Roberts, Beverly Redwine and those who help with the lunch after Wednesday Noon Eucharists.
Thank you to Fr. Brian and Dennis for their leadership in launching the Vespers Service on Tuesday evenings, and for all those bring food for it.
Karen Morant gives sacrificially to the education of our children and works closely with me on adult education. Her vision, energy and leadership, and those of her team, are greatly appreciated.
Joe Pidutti leads the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, that team of men is essential to our life together. Mary Harrell, mentioned above, heads up our Cursillo Community and Gene Hutchins our order of St. Luke. Mitzi Roberts heads up our DOK. Thank you all for your leadership.
Our outreach ministries wouldn’t be the same without Mitzi Roberts seems to be everywhere at once, thank you. Palomas would just be a distant town if it weren’t for Dale Giese and his tireless efforts to help the poor who are our neighbors. And all of it is overseen by our Deacon, Tom.
Thanks to the group coming to be known as the “Merry Widows,” Dora, Sherry and Jill, who pitch in so willingly for a hundred different things. The Garage Sale and the Bazaar would be half of what they are if it weren’t for Jill, Sherry and their helpers.
There are a hundred others out there who I have not mentioned. Please do not take it as an oversight or a slight, but merely evidence of the limits of my feeble brain. If it were not for all of you this would not be the Church of the Good Shepherd, and I am grateful to you all.
Finally, I would like to offer my sincere appreciation to my best friend, true help-meet, soul mate and wife, Karisse. She is always supportive, always engaged, and always my biggest fan and encourager. I know that you all feel richer for her presence here, how much more I who have walked the pathways of life with her for almost 35 years! Thank you, love of my life!
Personal: When we purchased our house in October it was the first site-built home we have owned in the United States as a married couple. We are so grateful and happy at 701 Broken Bow, and thankful for those of you who have been by to see us there. I want to express our combined gratitude to the parish of the Church of the Good Shepherd for such a warm welcome into a wonderful parish community. When considering my next move Good Shepherd impressed me as a parish that wants to be bigger than it is in a hundred ways, and you have proven me right. Silver City seemed to be a place where neat things happen, and again we have been proved right. We are happy to be here among you.
The Rev. Paul Moore, Rector