Pastor’s Annual Report 2017

Saint James’s 2016 Charge Conference found us just having acquired new-to-us buildings and land while still seeking greater clarity about the will of God for our future. We wondered whether this was indeed a more permanent location for Saint James: did God really want us to move a mere 1000 feet from our former location and stay on the West End of Alexandria?

We spent the time between September 30, 2016 and January 31, 2017 preparing to move to the new space. Though we owned them, the buildings were not yet “ours.” Saint James used capital funding to do improvements to the worship center and our new Mission House. We designated some of our interest income as seed money toward staffing for our move which included hiring a part-time children’s director before moving in. It was exciting to move into the newly renovated space. Some of it was just relief: each Sunday no longer entailed 3 hours of setup, testing, and takedown. Some of it was moving from the uncertainty of wandering to finding a place. Some of it was that we were staying in the same area in which we have been working for 57 years. Still, there was something fresh because we were looking at the West End through new eyes, the eyes of folks who thought we were called to leave only to discover there was still work to be done here; it took the possibility of leaving and the uncertainty of our future to help us see that.

Saint James is learning to celebrate a surprising God, One that shows up in places we least expect and reveals the Divine Presence everywhere we turn. This year we began together to focus on the spiritual discipline of Centering Prayer, a “posture” of openness and receptivity where we simply intend to be in God’s Presence. We keep finding that when we pray and trust and are receptive, God shows up! Imagine that. Of course, we know God was and is and will be there always; however, we also are coming to more fully realize that we miss this Presence if we are not paying attention.

For instance, God recently showed up in a surprising way when, “out of the blue,” James Donley who I had not really seen in 7 years messaged me to get together for coffee. Who knew when he and I roomed together 7 years ago at a Change the World Conference that there would be a re-connection now, that James would re-design our website, that James would become our Worship Arts Director?

Are there still challenges ahead for Saint James? Yes there are. We are seeking to reach out in a community, a world, that is becoming less interested in the message of The Church, more willing to claim no connection to God, and who has seen more judging than loving from The Church. We live in a world more cynical of institutions (of which the Church is one). We have committed ourselves at Saint James to be Love on the West End, to embody Jesus the Christ in our everyday living and in our ministry here, to “build bridges,” and trust God for the outcomes.

There are other challenges: financing our ministry, empowering more leaders, growing in faith, and being creative risk-takers in loving God and others. We are facing those challenges, TRUSTING and LOVING God who will reveal our way.

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