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What a Year 2013 was…Throughout 2013 we have been transformed (as is undoubtedly always the goal of the Christ we follow!). We are not the same as we were last year. We have new people in our midst and we have seen the end of the earthly lives of some of our friends. Our buildings, our events, and even our worship have combined tradition with transformation. We have welcomed new babies; newly married couples and new residents in the community. We are, like happens every year, different than the years that have past and we take that with us as we begin our 2014 journey. We will continue to be transformed as we invite Christ to guide and shape who we are and who we are called to become. Our goal, as always is to support Christ in his mission to change lives, ours included!
The following highlights my ten areas of emphasis for 2014…
#1 Strengthening Partnerships with our Community…We are a parish that strives to be involved in the lives of all Carp residents. We recognize that our discipleship is lived out both in our broader community and within our church. Following Christ is a seven day a week activity and thus we respect and honour the opportunity to partner with other organizations that impact the lives of those around us. In 2014 we will continue to extend our ministry through partnerships and support of the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre, the CarpConnect networking group, our nursery school tenants, and the Rural Healthy Living Coalition. In addition, we will continue to be involved in the activities of the Diefenbunker, Carp Agricultural Society and the Huntley Community Association (to name a few!)
#2 Food Justice through The Daily Bread Garden & the West Carleton Emergency Food Aid… As a rural church community we are well aware of the importance and value of fresh and local produce to ensure families are provided nutritious meals that positively impact their health and well-being. A Just Society is one in which families of all sizes and financial abilities can be nourished. The Parish of Huntley has for years been instrumental in assuring that those in our midst who need support to gain access to food for their family are able to do so. Last year we extended our involvement in food justice through the development of the Daily Bread Garden and the running of Country Kitchen food nutrition and education events. Both of these programs not only assisted those who were in need due to financial constraints but also sought to educate all families about the positive impacts that local produce and healthy food can have on their well-being.
This year it is our aim to build the people-infrastructure of the Daily Bread Garden and coordinated food education programs. I am currently in conversations with the Diocese and the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre to develop a program that will ensure that the Garden is made accessible to all and is maintained in an efficient manner. It is my hope that we might also receive the financial support necessary to hire a senior youth interested in Community Development to implement this program. The new Youth Drop-In group that is currently housed at the community rink has shown great interest in supporting this project and is seeing the Daily Bread Garden as a possible Spring & Summer activity. This is an exciting ministry opportunity and details will be forthcoming soon!
In addition, we have many members of our Parish that will continue to support the West Carleton Emergency Food Aid (WCEFA) throughout the year. As a parish we have an incredible number of volunteers who enable the success of our local food bank. I am very thankful to the many members of our congregations who contribute considerable time and effort on the Board of the WCEFA and in various volunteer leadership roles. A goal for 2014 will be to strengthen our relationships with the local Councillor office, the Rural Healthy Living Coalition, the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre, the Good Food Box, and Ottawa Public Health to support each other and discern the next steps for the WCEFA. I am very hopeful that by deepening our relationships with all those who are dedicated to healthy food access the WCEFA can be an even stronger organization; and for our parish an even stronger gospel response to the call to ensure that those around us are fed.
#3 Family & Youth Ministries…In 2013 we had close to three hundred people participate in our various family and youth activity events. From across the diocese youth joined us at the Diefenbunker for the Hunger Games Eucharist; on Labour Day Weekend families joined us at the Back-to-School Open House; over 45 pumpkins where carved by people of all ages; and families took Advent Wreaths home for the season! Our family and youth activities strengthened our community members and successfully reached out to newcomers and children and youth from throughout our neigbourhood. On Sunday’s our growing population of young parishioners enjoy learning and building relationships with their fellow church-g0ers of all ages.
In 2014 we will continue to be supported by Julia Montgomery as our Family Ministries Coordinator, Cathy Yocom as our Sunday School Coordinator, and the many volunteers provide leadership to these ministries. We will develop and implement additional family opportunities throughout the year and continue to provide Sunday programming at St. James and self-directed activity sheets at St. Johns and Christ Church.
Exciting family & youth ministry activities this year will include:
- Participation in the 2014 Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth Gathering in Kamloops, British Columbia
- Development and implementation of a Spiritual Drumming Program
- Preparation of youth and adults for the sacrament of Confirmation that will take place in February 2015
#4 Adult Formation…The formation of the adult disciples in our midst happens through everything we do. From serving the church with our time, talent and treasure; to volunteering and leadership in the broader community; to participating in Sunday worship and learning about the scriptures; to exploring questions of spirituality with others; to adopting spiritual practices during our Advent and Lenten seasons; to gathering together for study. It is our task as Christians to continue to deepen our faith and allow the Spirit to transform us (individually and as a community). Jesus calls us to be open to our life being changed by the ongoing revelation of God in our day to day lives. Being proactive about life-long formation is integral to our faith journey.
During Lent we will again host a specific opportunity for learning at a weekly Lenten Series. The series will take place for five weeks between Ash Wednesday and Holy Week. More details to follow! Other adult formation opportunities will also be explored for fall 2014.
#5 Sunday Worship Times & New Ministry…With an aim to strengthen our ministry on Sunday’s we have had a variety of conversations around the need to modify our worship schedule while maintaining consistency for existing members and newcomers alike. A new schedule has been developed that will aim to ensure these goals are met and will allow us to discern new ministry opportunities in our community. I am very excited that St. John’s will be leading a 4pm Monthly Service aimed at encouraging new families to worship God and will provide a service time that may be more conducive to the busy lives of families in our community.
In addition to Sunday I am looking forward to supporting the congregation at Christ Church as we discern a new worship opportunity for the local business community.
#6 Strengthening Sunday Worship Teams…Our three churches are blessed with a wonderful array of individuals who work to ensure our Sunday worship is an opportunity to be in the presence of God and community each week. We have readers, greeters, coffee hour leaders, musicians, lay assistants, counters, and Sunday School teachers. Sunday worship is offered by wonderful teams in each of the three points; teams that I am blessed to be a part of.
In 2014 our aim will be to connect with each other and spend some time reviewing what we already do, questioning why we do it, and considering ways for us to ensure that we continue to provide blessed worship experiences for all (including all the worship team members!).
Plans for this year include:
- An Altar Guild Meeting for all three churches on March 20th
- The training and mentoring of new youth servers at St. James and St. Johns
- A meeting for all worship team members in the Fall of 2014 to provide an opportunity to say thank you, to discuss lessons learned throughout the year, and to share stories of blessing
#7 Environmental Sustainability…The Parish of Huntley was the first Anglican parish to implement a MicroFitt program through the installation of solar panels on the Parish Hall roof. These panels demonstrate recognition that mixed sources of energy production are required for a sustainable future. In the fall of 2013 Gary Robillard and Catherine Kingston provided leadership in expanding our efforts into environmental sustainability by applying for funding of a Green Audit of the Parish Hall and St. James. This audit was completed in December 2013 and is now waiting to be further explored by a group of volunteers who will create a GREENTeam for our parish. This team will not only consider how we can become better stewards of the earth in our community and its four buildings but will also explore the audit recommendations for the purpose of decreasing our utilities costs wherever possible. The GREENTeam requires a leader and at least one representative from each church community who will take on this important task of continuing our commitment to environmental sustainability. I am seeking leadership and commitment for this ministry.
#8 Pastoral Care…Caring for elders and people of all ages who are in need of spiritual support is one of the highlights of my vocation. From individuals who have been in this community for decades to newcomers who have yet to even come to a service, as the pastor of this community I spend a considerable amount of time in conversations on an individual basis ~ and every conversation is a moment of blessing!
I am pleased to be joined by Marilyn, Barbara and Cherith who also provide a ministry of presence and friendship to our elders ~ my thanks to them for their service. Through our pastoral visiting we have a wonderful opportunity to deepen the relationship of individuals with the church community by offering them a listening ear and demonstrating compassion and love.
New to our community will be an Annual Seniors Eucharist and Tea that will take place at St. James and the Parish Hall on April 3rd, 2014. This event will be a unique opportunity for seniors to come to church for a service at which they will worship and be in fellowship with others. Jo Anne Denis will be leading a team of volunteers who will personally invite seniors and then greet and assist them when they arrive. The event will be sponsored by Chartwell Retirement Living who will not only provide lunch but will also provide us with their van and driver to transport seniors. I am looking forward to this special time of ministry with our elders.
#9 Financial Stewardship…Our parish has a very clear mission; to do everything we can to change lives and allow our own lives to be changed in the process. As a non-profit organization we provide an incredible amount of support to members of the Carp community and to those in need in various parts of the world for a budget of less than $180,000.00. Our mission requires an investment of our time, talent, and treasure and we are continually called, as followers of Christ to prayerfully discern how we are to respond to all three of these areas of investment. In 2014 we will strengthen our financial stewardship by;
- Continuing to be grateful for the time, talent, and treasure commitments families and individuals make to our parish
- Increasing the stewardship conversation in all three communities; through conversations about our mission and its impact, as well as the financial implications that support and strengthen us
- Inviting families and individuals to learn more about what the gospel teaches us about money. In particular this will be explored by encouraging a Parish Team (at least one representative from each church) to participate in the Money, Values & Me Conference on June 6 & 7 and reporting back to our community
#10 Communications…Our new website has been a great addition to our communication with parishioners and newcomers. In addition we now have an average of eighty readers who take the time to read our e-news each week! In 2014 we will continue to strengthen these two communications vehicles. We will also (thanks to our GIFT Campaign) be advertising our weekly services and web address in the local paper 52 weeks of the year!
Last year I was blessed to be able to submit two articles for the West Carleton Review and both were published. I am committed to continually reaching out to our local newspaper and to supporting all of our communications vehicles so as to strengthen our ministry and our community.
To conclude…In preparation for this year ahead I reflected on our past twelve months and I was amazed! I had forgotten how busy 2013 had been with activities, worship events, my induction celebration, weddings & funerals, baptisms, family gatherings, learning opportunities, community outreach, special liturgies, and so much more.
We are a parish that is ‘engaged’ in so many ways in our church and in the Huntley community. We are a parish that is a strong and vibrant component to life in the Carp area. We are a parish that is busy with its mission and ministries!
When people from across the Diocese ask me what it is like to be the Incumbent of the Parish of Huntley I excitedly respond; ‘Blessed!’
I am deeply grateful for the generous faithfulness of our congregations, including our strong lay leadership who offer their talents to support our ministry. Being church requires much of all us who serve as best we can to ensure that our journey with Christ is strengthened and that others are welcome to join us on our (often winding!) path.
I am particularly thankful for the leadership of Cathy Yocom who is so instrumental to the workings of our church. As Cathy enters her 25th year of employment at the Anglican Parish of Huntley we are most thankful for her ongoing dedication to our community.
I am deeply conscious of the various ways that our community lives out its discipleship. We are involved in many activities that enliven our own faith journey and contribute to the quality of life of many families and individuals both locally and globally by the work that we do. It will be my aim for our community to continue to follow Jesus in our worship, in our community involvement, through our various ministries, in our acts of service, and in all that we do.
Journeying with you in Christ, Pastor Monique