Dear beloved friends,
I loved our Annual Meeting this last Sunday! Annual Meetings can be such a mixed bag, and they take so much work. I easily spent four entire days just pulling together all the material, summarizing reports, doing the numbers, making everything legible and as concise as I could. It was an administration-heavy week. And while there were moments when I just didn’t want to think about font color and making sure my spreadsheet was calculating correctly, the truth is, I enjoyed the intense focus on details we often overlook.
I enjoyed the work of preparing the meeting, and the meeting itself, because God really is in the details, and the love God has for all creation is so clear in and through this community. We keep saying “yes” to God, and God keeps saying “yes” to us:
- During Covid, we kept our outreach ministries not only going, but expanding! The Deacon’s Dining Hall continued to serve food safely, and The People’s Pantry moved from every other week at St. Philip to every week.
- Even though our budget is tight, we continued to use our financial resources generously. St. Philip’s Tree of Life donated to EMOs HIV Day Center, Leaven Community Land & Housing Coalition, the PNW Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians, Street Roots, and other organizations.
- We continued to gather for worship online! I can’t tell you how many folks expressed surprise that a congregation of our average age gathered so consistently online. To me, this is just more evidence of our desire to be together, and our willingness to embrace whatever changes we need to make in order to be God’s people together.
- We prioritized anti-racist action, speaking against racial violence and worked to gather fellow community members to engage in concrete action and policy changes.
- We received a HUGE grant from the Board of Trustees of the Diocese of Oregon, evidence of their confidence in and commitment to the unique work of this community as we seek to house our neighbors and continue to be an organizing force in our neighborhood.
- We are developing partnerships with Second Stories, a two-person development company committed to equitable affordable housing in N/NE Portland, and Portland Community Reinvestment Fund, who will help us develop an affordable living community on our land.
There are so many other things the details tell us, but what stood out to me is this: we are a parish willing to embrace change in order to be a vital presence in our community. This is, after all, a part of our mission statement. I want to remind all of the vision we shared with the diocesan Board of Trustees. We said we wanted to:
- Be a vibrant, worshipping community that is committed to supporting the faith of our members and the spiritual hunger of our neighbors.
- Walk in solidarity with Jesus in our neighborhood through direct social action
- Be a center for the diocese and region for theological and ethical reflection, training, and community organizing in order to form anti-racist disciples of Christ the Liberator.
Certainly the most visible expression of this over the next few years will be building affordable housing. It is significant enough that I am going to give it its own separate Rector’s Note, next week (teaser: we picked a name as a part of our meeting, The Alcena!).
But building an affordable living community is not just about the building. It is about the community. So, this next year, we will work together building better relationships with our neighbors, with the organizations that have meant so much to us in the past (Urban League), and engage more fully with new friends and neighbors (Dishma, the Library, and others!).
I will have more to say to us about how we are going to do this in the future, how I will use my time as your full-time Rector, opportunities for us to connect with our neighbors, and more. But right now, I just want you all to know that I am so delighted to do all of this work with you and our amazing, loving, creative, and active God.