Ministry is not always easy. A number of years ago, my congregation and I were forced to take a stand for Biblical truth, and the consequences of that stand were all too real. After a lengthy and expensive court battle with our previous denomination we were forced off the property our congregation had paid for and maintained for years. In many ways it was a devastating blow. We had been a large, thriving church with many different programs and resources for the people we served, and with the stroke of a pen we lost everything. As we sat with our Vestry trying to plot a way forward, our senior warden spoke some very wise words that have stuck with me. He said, “As a church, our primary duty is to worship God. If that is all that we do, it is enough.” He was absolutely right. A church’s primary responsibility is always the worship of our Lord, and All Saints has always done that, and done it well.
However, just because worship is our priority and the one thing we must do does not mean that it is the only thing we ought to do. Since arriving here in March I’ve been trying to do a lot of listening, and one of the themes that I have heard repeated often is that people want more opportunities for both education and community. Our worship is fantastic, but people want to do more. And so we have been exploring ways to put that desire into action. One way we are hoping to do this is through a regular Wednesday evening program which will begin on Wednesday, September 6th. We will meet at the Galloway House behind our main building to give the evening a cozy, more intimate feel. The building will be open at 6:00, so people are welcome to bring a brown bag supper (Chick-fil-a is close by) and eat with friends before we begin. Starting at 6:30 we will offer a variety of classes for all ages which will go until 7:30. At that point people will be able to head home or stick around for more fellowship.
In addition to our regular Wednesday program we are going to offer two “community nights” on October 4th and November 1st. On these evenings we will all meet in McGlynn Hall for a community meal and a time of corporate worship and prayer. For those who prefer a more intimate setting for a meal we are also offering Seasonal Saturday Suppers. These gatherings will happen 4 times a year in private homes. Hosts will provide a main course and guests will each bring a dish to share. Our goal with these suppers is to match guests up with hosts that live in their general area so that we can get to know our All Saints neighbors. Our first Seasonal Saturday Supper will take place on Saturday, September 23rd. If you are interested in hosting a group of no more than 8 for dinner, please let me know. Once we have our hosts lined up we will be able to start signing up guests.
As we move forward in our life together at All Saints, we will continue to make good, Anglican worship of our Lord and Savior the top priority, but it will not be the only priority. We will continue to look for new and exciting ways to develop and build our community so that we might more and more be the Light of Christ in Springfield and beyond.
The Rev. Eric Zolner
Father Eric is a 3rd generation Anglican and the Rector of All Saints Anglican Church in Springfield, MO.