E Pluribus Unum

20/20 Vision Challenge: Growing the Church

One of the goals adopted by the Vestry at St. Timothy’s in its 20/20 Vision process is living into the mission work of the church as expressed by average Sunday attendance and pledge units.  At St. Timothy’s our goal is to double our pledge base or to grow by planting or adopting a mission congregation to help achieve that goal.

Growing the church is easier said than done.

One challenge for St. Timothy’s that our new rector will face is that as our community grows it also is diversifying.  This isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean our parish and others in the Diocese of California are not going to grow by simply reaching out to other Episcopalians.

The story of our changing demographics in the Contra Costa Times highlights both the similarities and differences of people moving to our parish “market service area.”  Why are they coming to the East Bay from San Francisco and Oakland and other places?  The story by Matt O’Brien and Paul Burgarino tells us it is for the same reasons that most of us moved here: better schools and a quiet, safe, healthy environment to raise our kids, bigger homes, affordability, and closer to our jobs.

Sound familiar?

We all want to live the American dream and pass it on to our kids.  Except we are not moving to Danville from San Ramon, we are coming from India, the Philippines, Mexico, China, Vietnam, South Korea, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.  The diversification of the East Bay is one of the most significant factors in our changing demographics.

When I arrived from Nicaragua, I was living in San Francisco. It was too noisy; too much people,” said Lissette Aragon, who moved to Antioch in 2000. “Here, it’s nice and quiet and I had an opportunity to buy a property. I was trying to get a better place for my son.”

The American melting pot is thriving here in the East Bay.

Here’s the breakdown from the 2009 American Communities survey used by the Contra Costa Times in writing its articles:

The challenge of the church is to reach out and connect with these new families and welcome them those of a Christian faith tradition our community of faith.

In 1993, St. Timothy’s adopted a goal as part of its 50th anniversary year celebration to plant a mission church just as St. Paul’s Walnut Creek had done in starting St, Timothy’s in 1953.

That vision lives on today in our faith community waiting for the Holy Spirit to call us to the place and time He has chosen for St. Timothy’s to live into its unbroken chain of faith promise to do the mission work of the church. Perhaps, our calling is to work with the Diocese and others in the Contra Costa Deanery to help the church serve the needs in one of these places close to home but beyond our reach today.

There will also be many of other faith traditions where our message is not evangelism in the conversion sense but hospitality, respect, collaboration and welcome.  This is why growing our church foundation is not just a Christian thing to do it reinforces our community values and our American values

E Pluribus Unum!

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