My Friends in Christ,
With hearts full of gratitude, we approach our celebrations, both religious and secular, of the season of Harvest and National Thanksgiving. We, at St. Mark’s, give thanks and celebrate the goodness of creation, the bounty of the harvest, and also the remarkable history and vibrant spirit of St. Mark’s Church in Brantford, as we mark 70 years of ministry this year.
From humble beginnings in a wood-sided church on Evelyn and Albert Streets through our move to our current building in 1965, until today, our collective Christian work of stewardship continues to be reflected in the beautiful our Harvest/Thanksgiving Collect which prays;
Creator of the fruitful earth, you made us stewards of all things. Give us grateful hearts for all your goodness, and steadfast wills to use your bounty well, that the whole human family, today and in generations to come, may with us give thanks for the riches of your creation. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
This prayer reflects our Christian community’s idea of being stewards and caretakers, nurturing the growth and development of ourselves and others, and encourages us to use what blessings and resources we have been given today to proclaim and live out the Good News and to care for God’s creation.
“Give Us Grateful hearts”
It would be wrong not to grieve some of the losses we all experienced as a result of the global pandemic, but we do have many blessings in our individual and communal lives to be grateful for. We have been changed by our losses and tempered by the adversity caused by local and global events, but our rich 70 year history as a Christian community that continues to bless us today, came with effort and resilience in the face of many challenges over those decades. The prayer’s call for God to “give us grateful hearts for all your goodness,” helps us acknowledge the hard-won gifts we have in our lives and in our community.
The global nature of the pandemic and the negative impact of global climate change have also come into much clearer focus of our awareness of the fragility of our lives on this planet and also our deep interconnectedness. We each need to be honest and aware about the impact that we as a human race are having on our life together on this shared planet, made smaller by technology and commerce. This aligns with the prayer’s call for the human family, today and in generations to come, to give thanks for the riches of creation, emphasizing our connection to a larger global community.
I would suggest that because of our current situation, post-covid and with extreme weather events dangerously increasing, the petition to “give us grateful hearts” is as much a call to make us aware of the risk of losing the gifts we have been given by the generations before us, as it is a petition inviting us to a general counting of our personal blessings as we may have on Thanksgiving Sundays past.
“Steadfast wills to use your bounty well”
This year, as we celebrate 70 years of ministry, we are not just looking back at our history but also forward to our future. We find hope in the prayer’s invocation of “steadfast wills to use your bounty well” and our commitment to continue welcoming all in Christ’s Name. St. Mark’s is grateful for your support, time, and generosity in ensuring that St. Mark’s remains a vibrant and thriving community, reflecting the love and unity of Christ.
Our faithful and resilient community has been working to renew our ministry and worship, post covid. We have begun to renew our ministries to children and youth, we have expanded and continued support of food security programs in our community, we are building up our internal support and faith groups, and we have, with the help of a grant from the Government of Canada’s Community Services Recovery Fund, begun to implement community wide activities, gatherings, and learning opportunities that will help older adults live more safely in their homes and in the community with an overall focus on becoming healthier in body, mind, and spirit.
“Today and in generations to come”
As we give thanks for the faithful who have gone before us and those who continue to nurture our community, let us remember our present and future. We have a rich history, and by God’s grace and our collective effort, we can ensure that St. Mark’s continues to shine brightly for years to come.
Along with the physical copy of this letter that we have mailed out is a giving envelope which is intended to encourage those who are able, in these challenging times, to express your gratitude with an additional financial gift. St. Mark’s does continue to operate in a deficit position this year. Any financial support you can offer would be of great assistance and will help ensure that our continued involvement and support of the good work we do together can continue in the coming years. If you are able to support us with a donation, you can find different ways to support us here on our Support Us page.
In closing, let us embrace the spirit of the Thanksgiving Collect as we reflect on our past, celebrate our present, and look forward to our future. With hearts filled with gratitude, we move forward, guided by faith, hope, and love, ever mindful of our stewardship of God’s creation and our commitment to serving our community.
With heartfelt Thanksgiving wishes and God’s abundant blessings,
The Rev’d Canon Rob Park
Rector of St. Mark’s