In our new statement of vision, “unconditional” is the first word to describe St. Peter’s: “a place of unconditional welcome.” St. Peter’s has been living into this message for even longer than the aging but sturdy sign has proclaimed that “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You”: the welcoming vision which we have now embraced as a parish.
Seeing ourselves as a place of “unconditional welcome,” we look back to caring for the orphans and the sick, feeding lunch to anyone hungry, offering musical education and literacy tutoring, and marching to proclaim the love of Jesus that embraces every person. Unconditionally.
With God’s help, the welcome we have offered has improved since that sign appeared. We have grown in numbers, in diversity, in activities, and, we may say hopefully, in grace. Our children’s formation is a national example. Liturgy, sermons and music deepen our worship, and the experience our loving welcome brings in new faces every Sunday.
In recent years, there is but one aspect of our parish that has yet to grow by similar strides: financial resources.
These have grown, and we are thankful for the generosity that has made so much possible. But look at the staff list that has not kept pace with membership growth, at the building that obviously needs renewal, and the opportunities for outreach and strong community partnerships we can’t fully support. We know how many good things wait to be done.
St. Peter’s needs more to sustain and expand this unconditional welcome, but the needs are finite; we can meet them. God has called us into the gap between that welcome and that need.
We must respond: our identity as Christians is tied to our readiness to serve, heal, proclaim the good news, and to welcome. To advance this vision into a world that so needs it, what must we do? As much as we have done, and still more.
There’s no “if” or “but” on that sign out front, and “unconditional” is now our watchword in the vision for St. Peter’s. May we pray for the grace to hear God’s call and to discern how best to use what we have to answer it still more fully and more unconditionally.
Chris Cudabac for the Stewardship Committee