Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Wherever you are in your spiritual journey, you are welcome here: in this place and at this table. There is food enough for all. Come, and be fed.
In the past year these words have become much more than an invitation to communion; they have become an expression of who we are as a congregation.
Here are just a few highlights of 2017 at St. Dunstan’s Church:
- Our feeding ministry grew 41%, feeding an astounding 17,453 people
- For the fifth year in a row we have hosted a tent encampment.
- Our Sunday School has grown to 13 children.
- The St. Agnes Guild had another successful year of fundraising, fellowship and outreach.
- Our Choir has grown to 16 people.
- Our Care Teams have grown and continue to pray and care for people both in our congregation and beyond.
- Our stewardship grew from 79 pledges totaling $247,685 in 2017 to 97 pledges in 2018 totaling $301,823. That is a 21% increase in dollars pledged!
In February, our vestry launched the Discovery Process to develop a new vision and mission statement. Over the course of several months over 60 people shared stories, hopes and dreams from their experiences of St. Dunstan’s Church. Then we came together in a summit meeting to review the themes that emerged from these interviews and to develop our new mission and vision statements. A vision is that long term hope that guides our work and worship. We may never see its fulfillment, but we trust that God is guiding us in that direction. At St. Dunstan’s Church, our vision is that
On earth as in heaven,
all are welcome,
all are fed, and
all are loved.
A mission statement describes our purpose. The mission is how we put our gifts, passions, and dreams to work to reach our vision. A mission statement is more practical and pragmatic, speaking to the particular ways we follow Christ in service of our vision. At St. Dunstan’s Church, our mission is:
Inspired by our worship together
we grow in Christ through
welcoming the stranger,
feeding hungry bodies and spirits,
giving of ourselves, and
inviting others to join us in this journey of faith.
I am inspired by the dedication and faith I see in the people of St. Dunstan’s Church as they live out this vision and mission. There are countless examples of selfless giving, creative and loving responses to challenges, and faithful care for our community. St. Dunstan’s Church is truly a place of peace, love, and inclusion, where you can bring your sorrow and your joy, your brokenness as well as your gifts.
One example I would like to hold up is our vestry. The members of the vestry have been diligent and dedicated in their leadership and stewardship. I have been impressed by the careful management of our budget this year, even as we have faced some unexpected challenges. Our wardens, Mary O. Pacher and Bill Barnsdale, and our finance team, Harvey LaZelle and Tina Polf, have supported our vestry and me with competence and good cheer.
Our staff is growing and thriving:
- Music Director Susanna Valleau continues to grow our music program. The choir is growing both in our skills and in numbers under her enthusiastic leadership. With Karin Rogers and the bell choir, and the delightful addition of a children’s bell choir offering, we have had another rich year of music and worship.
- Parish Administrator Barb Levy has shown dedication and creativity as she launched our new web site, and has greatly improved our bookkeeping procedures.
- Pastoral Associate Br. John brings peace and healing to our congregation and beyond with his pastoral work. Br. John made a momentous move back to the Franciscan order this year, moving his life vows to the Order of St. Francis. Over the holidays he once again offered a bereavement support group.
- Christian Education Director Mary E. Pacher has grown our Sunday School program, with new teachers and a new curriculum, and we now have 13 students registered.
- In October, Deacon Pat Grodt was ordained and assigned to St. Dunstan’s Church. Deacon
Pat brings a passion for social justice to our feeding ministries and a love for beautiful liturgy to our worship.
- Our Priest Associate, the Rev. Catharine Reid, continued to offer her excellent adult education offerings and her thoughtful sermons. Her Epiphany Evensong sermon was particularly powerful.
- Our newest Priest Associate, the Rev. Carola von Wrangel, accepted my invitation to join our staff as a non-stipendiary associate priest. She has preached, presided, and regularly supports our feeding program.
I continue to be grateful to the St. Agnes Guild for their gracious and generous presence. Their ministries of outreach, fellowship and hospitality are truly inspirational. Lu Gardiner, Melinda Wahl, Joan Mackie, Ann-Patrice Riccardo, and the entire guild are an ever-present source of blessing to our community and beyond.
In 2017 our feeding ministries have matured and grown. We peaked in the summer months, feeding as many as 530 people for several of the busiest weeks. Donations to the feeding program are strong and have more than covered the overhead expenses. We have worked to understand the actual costs of this ministry, formalizing our procedures to create a program that endures.
In the year to come we will build up our newcomers’ ministries and begin capital improvements to our worship space, organ, and campus. In all of this work we are guided by our vision of welcome, abundance and love. Thank you for all you have done and contributed to make this new year so full of hope.
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. David Marshall