Since being asked to serve as Senior Warden this year, I have found myself reflecting on what St. Peter’s means to me and why St. Peter’s matters in today’s world. In the last year especially, despite mostly virtual gatherings, I find that St. Peter’s strikes a unique balance among the many community organizations with which I engage. St. Peter’s at once offers refuge and peace from our difficult world, while also calling me to the hard work of advocating for equity and social justice in our community and beyond. In just the last month, I can recall examples of these dichotomous gifts of our parish.
On a rainy Christmas Eve, I traveled with my husband, John, and young sons, Jack and Walt (in their pajamas because what other year can we do that?!), to St. Peter’s to receive the outdoor Reserved Sacrament and returned home to watch the virtual Christmas Pageant with my family, in tears as a young chorister sung “Faithful friends who are dear to us will be near to us once more. Someday soon we all will be together if the fates allow.” We ended our evening celebrating virtual Christmas Eve mass with our parish family and friends. Over the course of that evening, St. Peter’s provided a much-needed moment of refuge and peace from our complex world.
And just last week, I gathered with parishioners from across the state in the first part of “The Journey to Racial Equity” series being presented by the Diocese of North Carolina. As a result, I am actively engaging in the hard, often uncomfortable work to understand the role I, as a white woman, must play in removing the barriers of systemic racism in our society. Through this ongoing opportunity, St. Peter’s is challenging me to think deeply about how I engage and show up in the world.
The mission statement of St. Peter’s is “to nurture a community of courageous followers of Jesus and inspire love of God and love of neighbor.” Following our Vestry retreat earlier this month, I can assure you that the Vestry remains deeply committed to this call and the work it requires, specifically as delineated within our 2019-2022 strategic plan. If you haven’t yet, I ask that you consider supporting this dual-purpose – to nurture and to inspire – through making a 2021 pledge. I find our family’s relationship with St. Peter’s to be deeper through sharing our time, talent, and treasure with the Church.
I welcome your reflections, feedback, and prayers for the life of our parish and the work of our Vestry this year. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at any time. I hold on, with hope, to the possibility that we can gather in person within the walls of our sacred space in 2021. Until then, I look forward to engaging with you online as we seek to be filled and to fill others – to nurture and to inspire. I am so grateful to be with you on this journey.
Patricia Massey Hoke, Senior Warden