March 4, 2012 and Report on Annual Meeting

Good Morning and Welcome to St. Mary’s Church!

St. Mary’s Annual Parish Meeting: Today, following the 10:00 am service. At the Annual Meeting we will hear reports about our ministries and future plans for St. Mary’s and we will pass our Budget for 2012. We will also elect members to represent the whole congregation on the Vestry. Please come and participate because St. Mary’s needs your voice and your caring thoughts, especially now as a transition in clergy leadership will take place soon. Thanks for being part of St. Mary’s!!

Manhattan North IPC Lenten Services: Wednesday Evenings at 7:00 pm; Evening Prayer followed by a Fellowship meal.

• March 7:      St. Mary’s, You know where we are!!
• March 14:    Holy Rood, 179th Street and Ft. Washington Ave.
• March 21:    All Souls, 88 St. Nicholas Ave. (between 114th and 115th Streets)
• March 28:    St. Ambrose, 9 West 130th Street (just off fifth Ave.)

This week with the service here at St. Mary’s, please plan on attending and if you can, help out with the Fellowship meal following the service. Please let Rev. Kooperkamp know if you can help. Thanks!!

The Property Committee will meet on March 8th at 5:30 pm. Please contact Liz Mellen if you want to help in this important work for the future of St. Mary’s Church.

The Finance Committee will meet on March 15th at 6;00 pm. Please see our Warden and chair of the Finance Committee, Dorothy Ross for more information,

Lenten Book Study: “Becoming a Blessed Church” Mondays at 7:00 pm (soup included!); Please see Rev. Kooperkamp for a copy of the book. Suggested by Dorothy Ross, Thanks!!

Movies at St. Mary’s: 6:00 pm on Fridays. Come for the fellowship, the popcorn and the FUN!! Also, we need volunteers to help. March 9: ben hur, 1959, action/drama, ur; jewish prince wrongly imprisoned by romans seeks revenge and encounters Christ. C’mon. chalton heston in a chariot race! (3.5 epic hrs).

The Episcopal Church Women: Prayer Group meets on the second Sunday of the month, the ECW meets on the third Sunday of the month.

Consecration of a new Co-adjutor Bishop for our Diocese: next Saturday, March 11th at 10:30 at the Cathedral, the Rev. Canon Andrew Dietsche will be consecrated: all are invited.

Eccelsia: Marcus Garvey Park: St. Mary’s is the lead congregation on the first and fifth Sunday each month. We will need volunteers next week, March 11th to help with the preparation of the “Second Meal.” Also: St. Mary’s Homeless Street Outreach: Saturdays, 12:00 noon preparation and 2:00 pm Street Outreach. Please let us know if you can help and keep the Homeless Street Outreach in your prayers. Also: Socks are NEEDED; keep on “socking it to us!” and if you are able, bring new socks we can give to people during Outreach. Thanks to all who have helped out in this effort!!

Annual Meeting: March 4, 2012

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
Summary Report on Annual Meeting

The meeting was called to order with prayer at 12:10 pm in the Undercroft.

Election Results:

– Dorothy Ross was elected to a second two year term as Warden
– Shirrell Patterson and Greg Scholl were re-elected to a second three year term on the   Vestry
– Jim White was elected to a first three year term on the Vestry.

Budget:

– A Budget approved by the Vestry was adopted by the Annual Meeting for 2012. This budget now reflects income and expenses for the Building Fund, Mission and Operations.

Reports:

– The congregation heard reports from the Episcopal Church Women, the Fundraising Committee, the Youth Department, Education, Evangelism, Empowerment and Outreach, the Property Committee, the St. Mary’s Shelter program, The Choir and the Food Pantry.

The meeting adjourned prayer at 1:40 pm and the singing of “Amen!”

Pastor’s Report: St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Annual Meeting March 4, 2012

“Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found.” Collect for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, BCP, p. 219

As I look back on the past year for St. Mary’s Church, I also begin reflecting on this last decade or so, yet I am also immediately reminded of where we are today as a parish and what the future holds as well. In some ways, I believe the “Urban Farm” project that Stephen Thake, Freddi Brown-Carter, Kym Roberts, Billy Adams, Stanley Dennis, Camilo Lopez, Liz Mellen and Janet Dorman, to name a few, have embarked on is emblematic of this past year. It has been a year of growth in many ways. Just as the gardening project hit a real snag when it was discovered that the soil here is toxic, God opened a door, really more like a floodgate, so that today along with the White House Interfaith Service Project at Union and Jewish Seminaries, and the support of the United Way and the New York Horticultural Society, St. Mary’s members are doing cutting edge work in making a urban farmstead, turning our ‘food desert’ back into the bread basket it once was, to feed the people of this neighborhood. In other facets of our life together, God has opened new doors, well actually floodgates again, that are taking this congregation in some exciting new directions. Out of the “Greening of St. Mary’s” the Property Committee, with the support of the Vestry, undertook an ‘energy audit.’ This audit revealed how to save energy, and to save the planet, and how to be better Stewards of not just the environment, but of our parish finances as well. We have put in better lighting that saves electricity and cuts our Con Ed bill. Most importantly, we renovated our heating system, so that now we get good heat on cold days, put less toxics into the air and make a significant savings in our heating cost, freeing up funds which will now be used to continue the restoration of St. Mary’s facilities. St. Mary’s is growing, St. Mary’s is greening and St. Mary’s is getting more savvy.

The best news is that during the past year, we have grown by 1 to 2 new members per month, and about half of them are under 30 years old. This is a very good thing and something for which to be very thankful. Our Sunday School is increasing and getting more active. St. Mary’s has strong, committed, creative and faithful lay leaders. Our internship program, now in its 7th year, is a model for new programs sprouting up all over the country, and it will more than double in size next September when a second New York Intern Program house will open at the Church of the Intercession. St. Mary’s Outreach to the homeless continues in our Saturday Street meal outreach, our support of the Eccelsia Church congregation in Marcus Garvey Park, and has taken on a new form with the start of a shelter program for homeless men here at the Church every night. The list goes on and on, and we will hear more in depth on these new ministry initiatives and innovative projects during the Annual Meeting following the service. The most significant aspect of all this growth, whether it is the “Urban Farm,” the New York Intern Program or having some of the Sunday School children begin to serve as acolytes and to sing at our services, is that it shows that as a congregation, you are active and forward looking in your faith. Believe me, this is refreshing. Many, indeed, too many congregations look back on the ‘good old days,’ just feel sad about the present and are outright fearful of the future. But that’s not St. Mary’s, not by a long shot. This is the “I am not afraid” Church, and we can lead in the future because we have leaders who espouse and embody that faith, and as Lisa Slocum reminds us, in that wonderful St. Mary’s way, we can have some fun together while we’re doing it!!

Of course, you know what I am leading up to here: I will be leaving St. Mary’s at the end of May, so there is naturally some anxiety about what will happen. Inevitably people ask me when I say that I am leaving, “Who will be there? Who will come after you?” and here in the parish there are some worries and anxieties about what is going to happen, how are things going to change at St. Mary’s? OK: Pop Quiz: “What is the most frequent commandment in the Bible?” The answer, of course is, “Do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid of the future and the changes it will bring: embrace these changes as a new opportunity to serve God and to carry out the mission of bringing Jesus’ love into this neighborhood and this world. Rejoice that God has given this congregation the freedom to work from a place of faith and strength, pray for wisdom for our lay leaders and give God thanks for the new and exciting directions that St. Mary’s ministries will take in ways that you and I cannot imagine now, but that God will open up the doors for in the future. Who would have thought 20 years ago the abandoned Ackley Center across the street, the largest pigeon coop in West Harlem, would become a place where sisters and brother living with HIV/AIDS would get a new lease on life? Who would have through 10 years ago that the old choir room with a leaky roof on the top floor of the Parish Hall could become a place for five young people to live for a year while they serve the community and discover who God is calling them to be? Who would have thought even last year that the poisoned soil of our church grounds could become an Urban Farm capable of providing fresh produce to feed our community? God can do some miraculous things, opening up doors and possibilities in ways that we could not even imagine, so that the people of St. Mary’s can do some outright miraculous things too in serving this community in the Name of the Risen Christ. You and I just have to get over our fears and anxieties about the change that will come and have faith in God’s love in Jesus to heal us, reconcile us and strengthen us in this call to serve.

Let me add one final word here: having faith that God will open the doors, or even the floodgates, to new opportunities is important, but it is not the whole story. God will open the doors, but you, St. Mary’s members, you have to walk through those doors and do the hard work required. St. Mary’s very capable and wonderful Wardens, Dorothy Ross and Radford Arrindell have already contacted Bishop Sisk about the clergy transition that will take place in a few months. In the coming weeks and months there will be lots going on, of course, but before you start: PRAY. Pray without ceasing; make prayer part of every aspect of this transition. Secondly; as the Diocesan transition office starts sending you all a ton of paperwork, DON’T GET OVERWHELMED. Stick with what works here at St. Mary’s: for example, if they give you a bunch of online surveys to fill out, be leery; many people at St. Mary’s do not use a computer regularly, so use the online surveys for people online, but stick with what works, maybe do another Appreciative Inquiry to gather feelings and thoughts about what you want and need in a new priest. Third: DON’T GET STALLED. Keep the process moving. Set your own pace and do not depend on the Diocesan transition office to keep it moving. Use the time you have wisely, to get an interim pastor or a supply priest in place before I leave and to get a Search Committee selected and formed, so that when I leave you can begin the search. Start gathering the material you already have about St. Mary’s to develop a parish profile. And finally, PRAY. I have been with you for over a decade. I know what you are good at: pray and do not be afraid to do the hard work that lies before you, and have some fun with it. You all are going to meet some great priests. Most of them are probably not going to end up as candidates for Rector, but have fun getting to know them and introducing them to the great community of St. Mary’s Church. Pray for God’s wisdom, strength, courage and grace in undertaking this search for clergy leadership to guide St. Mary’s Church into the future and in concord with God’s mission to bring God’s reconciling love to the world. May God continue to bless St. Mary’s Church.

Faithfully,

The Rev. Dr. Earl Kooperkamp, Rector

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