This year's Thanksgiving letter is written in the context of this being the strangest time I have experienced in my life, and indeed for many of us all of our lives. These past months have been difficult, stressful, confusing, and life-changing as we have dealt with the presence of a global pandemic. And yet there is so much to give thanks for.
We're still here!
Despite the challenges, St. John the Divine continues to connect, to worship, to learn together. Though we have only recently been able to offer limited physical gathering, it has been encouraging how many have adapted to new ways of meeting and connecting online. The creativity of our liturgy group and all of the worship leaders has encouraged and uplifted me -- with the careful move to livestreaming worship, to gather in a service of Word and Prayer, and now to a "hybrid" of online and in person worship we have sougth to address the need for connection and shared ministry. Alongside this a team of dedicated volunteers and staff have sought to keep in touch with those unable to connect with our 'virtual' community. I am so grateful for the way in which the efforts made in these past months have been so thoughtfully offered and graciously received. We haven't, and don't, get it right all the time -- but most have recognised the significant time and energy given to this new way of working and being, and your patience and support has been much appreciated.
Not all plain sailing
We know there are difficulties we have, individually and as community, in these days -- the sense of isolation and anxiety many are feeling, the complication of re-opening safely, and the issue of our grounds and how we continue to be a community connected to the wider world, whilst still addressing concerns for security. That work, those explorations, those concerns and the desire to address them with well-considered solutions continues. Changes are being made and we will continue to work hard at these things with expert advice.
Likewise we do have to address our ongoing financial needs, and at this time of year we usually consider our stewardship and support of this our spiritual community, and of the projects which we offer ourselves and support elsewhere as we seek to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our world. With this letter is another letter from the Finance Group of our Parish laying out what our situation is and what we must address.
Normally I would talk a little in this letter about 'Time, talent, and treasure' but at this point in our common life, the treasure needs some attention! If we recognize with gratitude at this Thanksgiving time all we have and all we are blessed with -- let us act from that abundance as we seek to continue to learn, grow and reach out together -- together working to provide the resources our community needs to accomplish this. We have many who give generously of themselves and what they have to perform and support the mission and ministry of the church, here and beyond our walls. Thank you! We continue to grow as an expansive and generous community -- a giving, outward looking people and it is exciting to have the privilege of leading such a community.
As we consider our Thanksgivings -- I am grateful for those who have taken on our vision of 'A heart for Victoria' and moved forward as we continue working with our Strategic Plan, as we work towards goals and as we consider new ways of working in these COVID-19 times and beyond. The connections made across Canada and aroudn the world through our online worship has shown us that many are seeking spiritual community in whatever ways possible. We are being calledat this time to engage with those who seek community both online and in the place in which we are rooted and grounded here in our homes, amongst friends, in the Downtown core, and wherever we live and work and learn and pray. Our challenge for the future will continue to be a church which is relevant, loving, open, compassionate, and welcoming to everyone.
A new Bishop
I know we all give thanks for the election of a new leader for our Diocese, I am certainly relieved that the process of discernment has ended and that we have a new, progressive, strong Bishop to provide vision and guidance for the Anglican Church in these Islands and Inlets for years to come. Thanks be to God!
Thanks for and to you all
I continue to give thanks for the life of this community, and for all of you, as I continue to be energised, enthused, challenged, inspired, and refreshed by being a part of St. John's. My thanks again to you all for being and for continuing to build a spiritual community with a heart for justice and for change.
With thanks for our partnership in the Gospel,
With thanks to the Chancel guild for the beautiful harvest displays created for our Thanksgiving worship on October 11, 2020.
Photos: Karen Coverett