Let your light so shine before people everywhere, that they may see your good works, and give glory to your Father in heaven.
There has been a great deal of light shining at Christ Church Greenwich. 2016 was a year of reflecting and sharing light in many directions and ways within this congregation. And the light has shone… in our hearts and in our prayer, worship, fellowship and service here. It shines broadly within this town and region and far beyond.
I have been so very thankful for the faith, generosity, and commitment of people within the Christ Church community. People pursue many “good works” and continue to give glory to the Creator who inspires us and blesses our efforts. There are a growing number of participants in the life and mission of this congregation, and we are developing partnerships with other organizations and institutions as well.
2016 was the year that we witnessed a culmination of restoration work made possible by the Rise up, Restore, and Rejoice! capital campaign. The church itself, restored inside and out, shines with beauty and invitation. Its restoration is the culmination of the careful ongoing work to renovate and care for our buildings and property. Just think of it… the Tomes-Higgins House, the Parish Hall, the Chapel, the Loft; all have received attention and work in these past few years, and let me tell you… they are USED! They are used by this congregation and by so many other people, groups and organizations in this community. Your generosity has made this happen. Your generosity also extended all the way to Tanzania as the Enduputo School had its first graduation and funds were gathered to build a church and pastor’s house.
In a very real sense, hospitality has been a consistent ministry this past year. Christ Church is a genuinely hospitable place, and we do offer hospitality to all sorts and kinds of people. We saw that in vivid ways during 2016. So many people were welcomed into the life of our congregation. Many others were welcomed through significant events that happened here such as the national conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians (with a remarkable Evensong sung by the St. Cecelia Choir of Girls). Both the Christ Church Bookstore and the Conversations on Courage and Faith program were powerful beacons of hospitality as they are further developed in their effective offerings. We worked hard this past year to offer hospitality in two specific and important ways that have stretched us as a community of faith; to Neighbor to Neighbor and to our sister congregation Trinity Church. Both have afforded great Gospel opportunity for us, and we have seized those opportunities while also meeting challenges along the way.
The Wardens’ letter mentions the Long Range Planning effort that we have begun this past year. It builds on a successful plan adopted a half dozen years before, a plan that saw the accomplishment of its goals in very exciting ways. I have confidence that the new Long Range Plan will also achieve great things for our parish as it seeks to develop mission and engage people in ways that bring transformation and engagement in faith. Already efforts have begun in envisioning a strong youth ministry, building our stewardship, executing a marketing communications plan, and strengthening ministry with young families.
Christ Church Greenwich has many wonderful assets which are truly gifts from God… resources, vision, facilities, compassion, just to name a few. At the foundation of them all is people, human beings who “let their light shine” in this community of faith and in so many ways in the world beyond. I am so very thankful for the people who serve and lead Christ Church Greenwich. Just look at the service list we prepare every spring. There are hundreds of people who give of their talent and energy here. I am thankful for every one of them, and indeed for each and every one of the people who are a part of this parish. My particular thanks go to those who serve on the Vestry, the Christ Church Nursery School board, the parish and school staff, and the Commissions, Committees, and Ministry Guilds and Organizations of this parish. You are the people who make the ministry happen here. Thank you.
I can’t begin to acknowledge everyone who does make a difference, but I do want to acknowledge some transitions specifically. Those include welcoming our marvelous new Business and Finance Officer Craig Cecere and saying farewell to our Interim Youth Minister Chris Edwards, my excellent clergy colleague Andrew Moore, and Susan Marks Reed (words fail me when I come to describe the quality of her service, commitment, and energy for this church!) This year also sees the transition in our Wardens. Again words fail me (think of that for a clergyman) to describe the wisdom and work of Audrey Schaus in her four years as a Warden of this parish. I am so very thankful for her and welcome those who are coming into their new roles as Sr. and Jr. Wardens, Randy Schwimmer and George Belshaw.
Dear members and friends of Christ Church Greenwich, we are making so much progress for the good and we continue to show dignity, compassion, and agility when challenging things arise. That is because the Light is shining here, the light of God’s love, the light of Jesus’ compassion, the light of the Gospel itself. I am so deeply thankful and I take to heart the blessing and the call in Jesus’ words, Let your light so shine before people everywhere… Thanks be to God, we are.