The Rev’d Rob Park reflects on the past year of ministry and parish life at St. Mark’s while also looking ahead to 2023. This report is part of St. Mark’s Annual Report for Vestry which will be held Sunday February 12, 2023.
Love connects us. This is a foundational truth of our faith and our understanding of what connects us both to God and to each other. Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel to love God and love of neighbour as we love ourselves, makes clear to us this essential component of how all our relationships are meant to be.
I remind us of this because, in this time of uncertainty and change, of upheaval and conflict, this essence of faith, the principle of love, can be hard to hold on to. Our earthly systems, that have such sway in our world and our lives today, are not founded on the principle and goal of love. These earthly systems constant quest for the gain of earthly wealth and power continues to be in upheaval because of the impact of the pandemic, impending threat of worldwide climate disaster, rising global conflict, and economic disruption.
Being a Christian has become harder because our foundation of love points us in a different direction than the earthly systems we live in are approaching these crises.
As your parish priest, it has been an important part of my preaching, conversations, letters, emails, with you and our parish community to acknowledge these crises and their impact as we face them with the strength of our Christian faith. The impact of this “polycrisis”, the intersection of these multiple crises, has been hard on St. Mark’s and all our faith communities.
St. Mark’s had begun embarking on a renewed vision prior to the pandemic, but the events and changes St. Mark’s has experienced during this time of adversity has transformed us and our situation. The goals and discerned direction of St. Mark’s pre-pandemic no longer fit us as they so joyfully did. Our new goals, out of necessity, need to be more practical and fundamental in nature.
Obviously, our proclamation of the Good News and our goal to point people to Christ always remains, but along with those defining functions of being a Christian community, we will need to put a renewed effort into good stewardship of our resources and rebuilding our community, in 2023 and the for the next few years.
It is my hope that we can encourage each other to continue to be good stewards of our individual resources, time, talents, and finances. St. Mark’s “Christian Generosity Team” is being restored and renewed to help us forward with this work, but it will be important work for each of us to help with the strengthening of our stewardship of what God has given us.
In addition, the separation caused by the restrictions and social distancing we have endured, has reminded us of the importance of community, especially community founded in principles of love. There has been hurt, grief, and loss in our community for which we need to seek God’s healing and restoration. Coming out of the pandemic restriction, restoring and rebuilding our sense of community, our defining relationship’s of love for one another, will be another important and essential goal for 2023 and the next few years as well.
I am grateful for all those who have been providing leadership and all of you who have faithfully been helping maintain and support our parish community through this crisis. I have been encouraged and inspired by your faithful examples and witness to that call to love others. I am deeply grateful for the leadership of St. Mark’s Wardens, our staff, and the volunteers who coordinate our groups and guilds and all their volunteer members, helpers, and supporters. Even through the depth of crisis, St. Mark’s relied on generous and faithful volunteers to ensure we continued to proclaim the Gospel and pointed to Christ as best we could. Our yearly Vestry meeting and the reports submitted are just some of the many signpost’s pointing to the good work that we do and our faithful effort to proclaim Christ.
We continue to have many challenges ahead of us, but with God’s love guiding and strengthening us in the relationships that connect us with God and with others, we will continue to be the best example we can be to others. I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to be your parish priest and to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ alongside you.
The Rev’d Rob Park