All Saints Episcopal Church, Hilton Head Island, SC
August 20, 2004
September resumes a host of activities that define in many ways the life and character of the parish. In fact, take a bird's eye look at any parish in September and you will discover what is important and "essential" to that group of Christians. The lull of the summer is transformed into "activities" that have meaning for the members of that parish. Usually, every segment of the parish is represented, from the youngest member to the oldest. Let me suggest, though, that that is only one tried and true approach to parish health. Underneath parish programs and activities there are subtle hints of a parish's health that may not consciously register immediately. Hence, ten unscientific signs of a healthy parish.
The bulletin format assumes that all those attending worship are not Episcopalians, that it is meant to be helpful, illuminating and inclusive, rather than cryptic, hieroglyphic and exclusive.
The parish has attracted new members since the summer, and they are sitting in my pew.
There are so many activities and new members the parish can no longer just give abbreviations in announcements.
The coffee hour is a maddening scene, with no islands of bewildered visitors or newcomers.
The parish family is theologically diverse and opinionated, and there is an openness about that, that welcomes respectful disagreement about what is important in our lives.
Stewardship of God's blessings is not simply about money and the fall every-member canvas, but about our lives in totality.
There is always at least one person on the committee who asks the question, “Why are we doing this?"
The parish is not described as a calm lake but rather the roaring of the ocean's waves.
The clergy and staff consistently make mistakes, not to mention members of the parish, and there is the collective theological reality, they are forgiven … over and over again.
Christ is the head of this parish, and we follow in his footsteps, from the gift of love to dying to self for the sake of others.
This is a
snapshot of a healthy parish!
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