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Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes

At first glance, maybe the first thought that popped into your head was “?”, or “That doesn’t make sense!”. But drill it down, think about it a bit longer, and it makes perfect sense.

This past week in San Marcos at our annual Diocesan Council, Bishop Read used this phrase to challenge all in attendance as we look to lead our respective parishes into a changing world and environment. Representing your St. Philip’s church family was myself, Lory Zimmerman, Randy Harris, Sharon Carson, Cyndy Marsh, and of course Father Mike. Kelley Kimble was also in attendance in her role as the Diocesan Chancellor.

As it was a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Diocese of West Texas, a lot of time and effort was rightly spent looking in the rear-view mirror, so to speak – birthdays such as this are milestones worth being proud of. Council is the time that the multiple ministries administered by the diocese and our 87 parishes are documented, shared with others, and celebrated as we attempt to share the Good News by using our time, talents, and treasures. And our diocese and parishes have a lot to be proud of in that department.

However, let’s get back to the “change” idea, and the challenge to change that we all struggle with every day in many different ways. Bishop Read reminded us that change can push us out of our comfort zone but result in growth, both spiritually and in deeper relationships.

Several workshops were available on a variety of topics. I’ll use this space to share some of my “takeaways” or “bullet points”:

  1. Stewardship – following the effects of COVID which we all experienced in 2020, the Episcopal Church as a whole in 2021 saw a 3.5% decrease in membership but a 36% decrease in church attendance. Sobering as that statistic is, we at St. Philip’s have witnessed that reality – let’s encourage our brothers and sisters to join us in Sunday worship in the sacred space we call home.
  2. Pledge cards – there are vastly different attitudes on this subject based on your generation. Older generations see it as a symbol of loyalty to the institution while younger generations see it as another form of debt to service.
  3. Our church websites need to be designed for interaction with members in mind, and almost more importantly, prospective members, rather than just providing static information. Kind of a website 2.0 – 1.0 being the first generation of websites.
  4. Fear of failure can drive our decisions – and our indecisions as well.

Now, let’s go positive!! Our diocese now has Rev. Leyla King on staff who will be facilitating small church ministries – and she’s got lots of energy on this topic! Her workshop emphasized the reality and joys of a small church (such as St. Philip’s!) – “love the ones you have – love the ones you are !! – you have enough – you are enough !!”

I’ll close with this exercise that I want every one of you reading this rambling to perform; fast, instinctively, without a lot of time spent on this question:

*** Name 5 things you love about St. Philip’s ***

I came away from Council blessed by the many friendships I have around the diocese, optimistic about what our God is doing through us in our little corner of the world, and open to facilitating deeper relationships within my St. Philip’s family.  — Darrell Zimmerman

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