Sand, Sea, Sky and an Invitation to Worship" about the Saturday services held by Trinity, Asbury Park NJ on the beach during the summer.
Loved the piece in the paper this morning ... and then I checked my email during lunch and found this great "back story" from a member of the parish profile committee which I share with gratitude -- and permission! -- on this lovely August Monday:
We knew what we wanted and we knew we wanted to grow. We called a marvelous priest, David Stout, who at the time was serving on the staff of St. Bartholomew's in New York City. As most of you know, under Bill Tully's outstanding leadership, St. Bartholomew's has gone from moribund to vibrant.
And so, in two years time, the average Sunday attendance at Trinity has tripled. How? Well, obviously the rector deserves a lot of credit and we had friendly folks who really did want to grow. We had leaders who had no problem sharing leadership tasks with new people. Although we have a partnered gay rector, the largest percentage increases in membership have been among those over 65 and African Americans. Indeed, the percentage of gays and lesbians in the congregation has declined, although our numbers have also greatly increased.
We went from having one priest to having three, plus a deacon, plus a Presbyterian minister and a Roman Catholic priest assisting. All but the rector are non-stipendiary and we are currently working on ways to afford a second, badly needed full-time assistant.
So, when I hear about the Episcopal Church declining, I tend to think it's because of demographics or because the congregation doesn't want to or doesn't know how to grow. Liberal parishes today can be just as vital -- and purpose driven -- as any conservative congregations.
Lay Representative of Province II on Executive Council
So there you have it ... Go in peace to love the Lord and grow the Church!