Rector's Message

January 21, 2020


My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I greet you on this 142st year of our organization and in the 15th year that you, by God’s grace, permitted me to share. Grace, mercy and peace from God the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer be with all of you. It is with a deep sense of gratitude that I share some highlights of our journey together over the past year.

Paul says to the church at Thessalonica, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We have much to be thankful for and in the spirit of thankfulness- thankfulness for our triumphs and our tears, ours challenges and our successes, tha I come to share with you about the ministry God has given us.

Last year we highlighted the need to be builders. We proclaimed 2019 a year for building and rebuilding. You took up the call and began to do just that and I am grateful. We built upon our ministries. The Feeding Ministry saw its largest crowd yet in 2019. The Blessing Bag Ministry secured grants and donations which allowed it to expand its reach. The Arts Ministry continued to create with great imagination and vision. Our Video Ministry has continued to reach more and more people through our Sunday livestream. The ECW in 2019 organized one of the most successful Women’s Day celebrations in recent memory and has continued in an upward and onward trajectory in terms of its growth and support. Greeters, Acolytes and Altar Guild have continued the hard work of organizing and executing the processes and support that make our time together in worship possible and more beautiful. Our Youth Ministry and Sunday School continues to imagine new ways of encouraging young people in their Christian walk. Our Guilds continue to support the church in amazing ways giving outlets of service to its members and playing pivotal roles in the life of the congregation. The Music Ministry continues to display excellence in dynamic music and worship.

New for us in 2019 was the inauguration of a formal partnership with St. Edmund’s as we actively seek to build meaningful relationships that build community and enhance our effectiveness. We are stronger together than we are apart. New as well is our Women’s Ministry which seeks to build spiritual health and maturity through prayer, fellowship and sharing. The best is yet to come as we continue building! And for this, we are thankful.

We are thankful for resources. We are thankful that through discipline we have been able to replenish our savings after the expense of replacing HVAC units in 2018. We returned $16,424.23 to the Building Fund CD on October 3rd! We were also are able to repay the $5,310.00 owed to the Restricted Fund! We remain a debt free congregation and we continue to build upon the solid financial foundation which has been laid. We have continued to receive grants and donations which recognize the effectiveness of our ministries and have helped sustain them. We have been awarded grants for our Blessing Bag and Feeding ministries and we are also thankful for a technology grant from the Brotherhood of St. Andrew which has allowed us to upgrade our computers and AV equipment. We are thankful for the generosity of our beloved Mary Lou McDowell who donated land to us in Michigan for which the transaction was completed in 2019.

We are thankful for the blessings of people and personnel. We continue to thank God for the work and witness of Fr. Barasa among us. His quiet wisdom has been invaluable. We also are thankful for the continued leadership and imagination of our deacon, Deacon Murray, as she ministers in our midst and in the world with unmatched passion. Because of her stellar leadership, Deacon Murray will officially gain the title of Associate for Pastoral Care and Outreach. She will remain responsible for coordinating pastoral care to the sick and continue to be responsible for leading the many ministries which have come to fruition because of her leadership. have continued to build upon this foundation of excellence in pastoral ministry and we are thankful.

Paul admonishes us that in all things we should give thanks. While the past year has been filled with successes we have also faced challenges which we will have to continue to meet head on and in the certainty that God will make a way. Perhaps one of the most important challenges we face is making sure that we address deferred maintenance issues on our property while continuing to maintain ministry. We are thankful for the Property Committee headed by Dawud Thompson for beginning the work of prioritizing and addressing our needs in this area. As part of a longer term strategy for the financial strength of the church, not only to address these needs, but have resources for the needs of our congregation for years to come, we will begin to think entrepreneurially and look for opportunities to invest in our future for generations yet unborn. To that end, we look in this new year to revitalize the St. Thomas Community Development Corporation as a possible vehicle of entrepreneurship. This summer, we will take the first step by updating our strategic plan so that it can guide us, based on our own values and mission, as we move forward over the next 5-10 years. We must continue building for the present by building for the future. We are thankful for these opportunities to continue to build. It is certainly in our challenges that we find our opportunities.

Beloved, in this year of clearer vision, let us choose to be thankful in all things. You see, it's easy to give thanks when things are going well. It's mighty convenient to be grateful when things are going great. But Paul says, "In everything give thanks"! It is no test of faith, to say, "Thank you," when the sun is shining. It does not create character when everything you touch turns to gold, when every idea is a stroke of genius, when every morning is the dawn of a day that is better than the day before. That won't make any faith for us. A people of faith we must adopt an attitude of thankfulness in all things. That means when things go wrong, thank God. When your world turns upside down, thank God. When sickness comes in your house, thank God. When death comes and sits on your doorstep, thank God. When hard times put you down, when bad times knock you down, and when rough times hold you down, thank God! When roofs leak and concrete crumbles, thank God! For God specializes in taking what looks like defeat and turning it to victory. God specializes in taking disaster and turning it to triumph. God specializes in taking the rotten grapes of the wicked and turning them into the sweet wine of the righteous. God specializes in turning what the world means for evil into what God means for good. And all you have to do is thank God!

Why thank God in all things? Well, Paul gave the reason for thanking God in his theology of all-encompassing good. Said the apostle, don't ever forget that "all things work together for good to them that love God."

Thank You for your continued prayers, support and love as we journey together in faith.




The Reverend Fulton L. Porter, III, M.D., M.Div.

The Sixth Rector

  April 2020  
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