One of the most profound implications of the 2010 census results is how powerfully they align with the goals St. Timothy’s Vestry has set. In 2003 during the 50th anniversary year, the Vestry affirmed our unbroken chain of faith in the call by Bishop Shires to ‘plant a mission congregation down the road in the San Ramon Valley’, how Rector Hodgkin of St. Paul’s Walnut Creek responded to that call and one month later formed St. Timothy’s mission.
That congregation named St. Timothy’s because Timothy was a follower of Paul thrives today, and in our 50th anniversary year the Vestry renewed our parish commitment to that unbroken chain of faith by pledging that we too would help plant a mission congregation at a time and place God calls us to serve.
Is God Calling us to See Census 2010 as a Sign to Live Our Unbroken Chain of Faith?
We have been praying and waiting listening for God’s call. The question is whether the 2010 census results when combined with the work of the Diocese of California is the Antioch/ Brentwood part of the diocese and our 20/20 vision process reaffirmation of the unbroken chain of faith goal are signs from God that the time is now, the place is near and the need is great.
The Bay Area census 2010 results that affect the Diocese of California not only mirror our recent experience but validate the choices we have made as a parish congregation and as a Diocese doing the mission work of the church to support transforming lives, to celebrate our diversity, the serve God through outreach those in need, and grow the church. Here are some examples:
St. Timothy’s Outreach is targeted to transforming lives in our community, among the nationwide programs we support, and around the world through the mission work of the church.
- Monument Crisis Center in Concord
- Shelter, Inc in Martinez
- Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa County
- Contra Costa Interfaith Housing in Lafayette
- Discovery Counseling Center in Danville
- Options Recovery Center in Berkeley
- CAID: Community Assistance for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities
- Marsh Creek Detention Center
- Casa de Fe Homes for abused, neglected and homeless children.
On a national and international level St. Timothy’s has supported the following causes through our Fruits of the Harvest program:
- Global Aids Interfaith Alliance (GAIA)
- The Gretta Foundation: Nursing training for impoverished Ugandans and Malawians
- Sentinels of Freedom support for returning wounded warriors.
Our outreach work is NOT about us, it is about the transforming lives we seek to serve. If we want to help them most we must work together with others who also love them. This lesson is a pure and perfect symbol of grace and God’s unconditional love for us. You just can’t make up stories like we have heard both of the need and the power our gifts and hands and prayers can turn into action. By opening our eyes to the need and the opportunity to serve God is telling us to roll up our sleeves and do the mission work of the church in our midst.
But we are not alone—more hands and hearts and help make the chain stronger. One of the lessons learned by participating in the Contra Costa Deanery collaborative efforts with the Diocese of California’s Episcopal Charities Action Networks is that our support for these causes and organizations is widely shared among other parishes in the CoCo Deanery. We learned that working together more pro-actively could make our efforts more effective for the causes we support and bring us closer together with the Diocese and other congregations in our unbroken chain of faith. We have been so busy doing our own thing that we did not recognize that doing so often made us a weaker link in that chain than when we worked collaboratively with others.
The Diocese of California focus on congregational renewal, growth and on ethnic and cultural ministry is consistent with the 2010 census assessment of need. The diversity and change taking place is our community enriches it, but change is never easy and welcome, assimilation and incorporation are the steps to assure that all who love God and seek Christ feel at home in the faith family of the Diocese of California.
Unlike the Federal Government we do not print money in the basement at DioHouse, but we can do things that unleash the creative power of the faithful by collaboration, by prayerful celebration together of this rich diversity, and by coordinating our efforts across congregations, across parishes, across deaneries across the Diocese to strengthen our unbroken chain of faith for the future and make the best use of our available resources.
So what does this mean for 20/20 Vision?
The next rector must be able to lead St. Timothy’s into this broader Diocesan collaborative effort holding one end of our unbroken chain of faith and offering it to the Diocese and other congregations as that pure and perfect symbol of faith. We need to align our efforts with the Diocese and live into our role as a thriving congregation in the “sweet spot” of the church’s future in the Eastern part of the Diocese to help the Bishop and his congregational development staff by leveraging our outreach, programs and ministry capabilities, and our 20/20 vision goals to be the body of Christ in doing the mission work of the church.
The lay leaders of our parish, programs and ministries must be involved in the work of the Contra Costa Deanery and the Diocese so that we are turning our 20/20 vision goals into actions, offering our hands and skills as well as our money and prayer, and actively participating in shaping the goals and actions of the diocese.
Our parish goal should be to encourage the widest possible involvement by every parish family to double down our active participation in the mission work of the church until every member of our parish family finds a ministry or program that calls them to service as a link in our unbroken chain of faith.
‘Go forth to love and serve the Lord’ is not our dismissal it is our call to action.