Annual Report, January 2017

Our Annual Meeting is officially a business meeting, because a church is officially a corporation. And as a corporation we need to elect members to our board – which is what we call our Vestry – and to approve the budget that the people of the Vestry (and especially Karen) put together for us. But it is so much more than that. We could be the Church without any building, and without any budget, and without any Vestry. But all those things are a gift to us, to use gratefully for the ministry entrusted to us in this place. I am so thankful for another whole year of service from a faithful Vestry, people with good sense and good hearts and good minds who serve this congregation along with me. I am thankful for another whole year of generosity from all of you, who give of your time, talents and treasure, to support me, to maintain our beautiful church home, and to make all of our ministries possible. And I am thankful personally, every day, that I find myself in a Church full of the kindest, most gracious people I have ever known.

But I am most of all thankful for another whole year of God’s faithfulness to us, because it is his presence and his protection and his guidance that are our very life. And that isn’t just spiritual talk; nothing is more true. We are just a little bitty Church here at St. Philip’s but our God is big, and he has done big things this year.

Our ministry reaches halfway around the world, to Malawi, where one year ago the orphange and school that we have been supporting was finally finished and began serving the children and the poor in that very poor country.

Closer to home, we have continued to support the Neighborhood food pantry with the gifts you bring each week, and along with the other churches in Norwood we started the Community Lunch Program to help provide food for our needy neighbors during summertime and school breaks. Our Parish Hall serves the distribution site for Norwood. Last summer we helped about 50 families, and we hope to reach out even more this year.

We reached out to our four-footed neighbors in October, as we always do, with the animal blessing on the Feast of St. Francis.

We hosted the Handbell Concert in December to share the joy of Christmas with our neighbors.

And we had very successful work days spring and fall to care for the good things God has given us.

This year was extra special because we had Bishop Love here for a visit in July.

I can’t possibly name everything that happened this year, or all that we have done as a church, but it is most important to remember that we are not just a club who meets to do good deeds. We could do all those things we do, and send our checks off to support missions, and pat ourselves on the back for being good people, and still sleep in on Sunday mornings and read the paper and drink an extra cup of coffee and mow our lawn. But the real life of the Church is our worship, gathering as the Body of Christ to be fed with the Word of God and with the Body and Blood of our Lord, and to offer to him our thanks and our praise. We come together and we sit in our regular places every Sunday (except Mike and Helen who are very daring and move around). We sing our hymns and offer up the prayers and share the bread and the cup. And in celebrating the Eucharist together Jesus is present among us in a powerful way. That is the heart of what it means for us to be Church; that is what makes everything else we do fruitful, because it isn’t our ministry anyway, it belongs to him. And we have been so blessed to be his co-workers for another year.

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