The Rev. Dr. Anna S. Pearson
Back in the early days of Advent, a parishioner forwarded to me a video of Ray Suarez’s keynote address to the Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. The theme of his talk was church growth and changing demographics (the link to the video is here). As you are probably already aware, church growth is an issue addressed early and often when faithful people gather together. I know it was a topic of discussion when I was interviewing with the Holy Apostles Search Committee and Vestry, and Bishop Shin shared during his Visitation with us that it is the subject he is most asked about when he spends time with congregations.
Often this subject is addressed with a lot of hand-wringing and worry thoughts, because on the surface the numbers do not tell a very promising story. Yes, average Sunday attendance in mainline Protestant churches is declining. Many of these communities are aging as well. But there is also hope in much of our ecclesiastical reality, and Ray Suarez has something to say about our past, our present, and some adjustments we might need to make if we are to move forward as a robust denomination. I urge you to watch the video at your leisure. You might not agree with everything he says, but I’m pretty sure you will find it thought provoking. You may or may not find his suggestions galvanizing, but I hope you will feel inspired.
I also urge you to attend our Annual Meeting on Sunday, January 27. This will be a time when we talk about our community priorities for the coming calendar year. Even though our numbers are good (and even though numbers are only one way to measure the health of a congregation), one of those priorities will surely be convening people who are especially interested in initiatives that welcome people to Holy Apostles. We have much to share and good reason for sharing it, so please bring your questions, your ideas and your faithful energy.