It was the end of our 8-week "Covenant I" New Member class and so we gathered -- staff and the 30+ new members coming on board at All Saints Church -- including the six who will be baptized at the Great Vigil of Easter on April 11th.
We ate, drank and were merry ... new members heard from staff members about opportunities to "come into the work" in various departments. (Want to teach Sunday School? How about Usher? Maybe videotape Sunday services or visit shut-ins? Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on your journey of faith we've got something with your name on it!)
But they didn't just hear from us, we heard from them.
"What brought you to All Saints Church?" is the icebreaker. Here are a couple of my favorite answers:
"An Obama precinct worker came to my door during the election campaign and we got started talking and she ended up inviting me to come to check out her church so I came the next Sunday and found a home. And I knew you really meant the "whoever you are there is a place for you here" when I came to church on the first Sunday in Lent and there was an incense free room set up with a video feed for people with respiratory issues."
"I had TIVO'd Oprah and when I heard Ed Bacon I thought "now why can't there be a church like that near me." And then I thought I heard him say "Pasadena" and I thought "no way" ... so I backed up the tape and sure enough ... it was Pasadena. And I came the next Sunday. And they said they had new members' class starting that night and I said, "I'm there!"
One of our new members said, "I'd heard about All Saints and visited once a long time ago. Then I heard about the IRS tension and said, 'Any church who is fighting the Bush administration and the IRS is where I want to be.'
"I drive up from Orange County every week ... and I just know there are plenty of people like me out there who had no IDEA someplace like this exists!"
So that's our "market share" ... for all the projections of decline and gloom and doom forecasts from analysts in some quarters, there ARE folks out there yearning for the Good News we have to offer ... and ready to sign up and join in when they find a place that connects on Sunday with the values of tolerance, love, justice and inclusion they teach their kids all week.
Some of them found All Saints Church in Pasadena ... but there are PLENTY of other places around this church of ours who have the same welcome to offer, the same gospel to proclaim, the same faith to put in to action, the same commitment to peace through justice.
So April 11th we'll baptize 17 babies, six adults and welcome thirty some new members into the All Saints Pasadena "branch" of the Body of Christ. And then April 26th we'll start all over again ... with a new 8-week new member class and another chance to hear the stories of those who have come seeking a spiritual home and a parish family.
The welcome mat it out ... stop on by!
Susan, Susan, Susan . . .you are not helping the 'orthodites' in their mantra that TEC is on the path to sin and perdition and that, in ten year's time, we'll just be a footnote in history and they. . . THEY . . . will be thriving and have THE Anglican franchise in America.
Get with the program, will you?
Oh, and blessings on all the new members and all those who will be baptized on April 11. Well done.
Susan, I hope you'll respond to this question in the constructive manner in which it is intended:
Have you considered that, rather than of growing like all gangbusters, it's time to grow another Episcopal mission/parish, instead? Maybe have some members strike out on their own, like Abraham headed for the Land of God's Promise?
I think it's great that All Saints is doing so well---I'd just rather see more Episcopal parishes like it! :-)
Way to go!
You are so right to say that people will respond, even driving up from OC, when you have GOOD news for them.
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