A Word from Fr. Greg "...So we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine" -Romans 1:11-12
Before I say much at all, I really want to convey a bedrock hope -- I want to meet you and get to know you; all of you, the fabulous people who are the living members of the lively part of the body of Christ that is Ascension, Lexington Park. Even for those who know me and whom I know, at least by name, I'd like to get to know "the rest of (your) story" -- as one of my fellow Chicagoans, Paul Harvey, used to say. I would be honored if you would also, in time, want to come to know me and my story. Even more, I would be honored if you would, in time, come to know my wife, Iman, and our daughter, Carter, as part of your community, as well.
That's the fist thing I want to 'say' and, looking at what I've written above, I guess I said it. But saying it and doing it are two different things, so if you are able to come and worship on Sunday, and I hope very much that you will, I will say a little more along these lines, and I plan to share a way get to know one another. (And, don't worry, I won't make you do any hokey "ice breaker" games in church. That's not my cup of tea!)
The warmth of the celebration and, indeed, the bittersweet good-bye's expressed last week for Pastor Melinda and Nina were, for me, one more expression of the powerful love and gifts of Ascension, Lexington Park. These are characteristics about Ascension that I have known, and known personally, for a long, long time. Ever since I answered God's call to come and help grow the Episcopal Church in St. Mary's County some years ago, I have met, worked alongside and been supported in the shared ministry of countless members of Ascension. I have personally benefited from the prayers and deep collegiality of (most) every clergy person who has served Ascension -- in fact, of the list, I count two I didn't know, Mother Thelma and Vicar Rivers.
The apostle Paul wrote to the early Christian church in Rome -- a community he had never been a part of -- and he said this, "I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world." (Rom.1:8) Similarly, I thank my God, and have often expressed my thanks to God, for the profound Christian witness that is Ascension, Lexington Park. You are well known as a beacon of hope in our community and your witness is strong and compelling. And thus, as Paul continued, so let me close: "For I am longing to see you," Paul wrote, "so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you -- or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each others' faith, yours and mine." (Rom.1:11-12). So, too, I am longing to see you, to come to know you, to offer myself in service alongside you, to witness for Christ together with you, and to love you, too.
I look forward to our first of many, many celebrations, rooted in the story of God's amazing love for us, this coming Sunday - 7:30am and 11am! See you in church!
How Do Two Churches Share the Same Staff and Priest? - Office Hours and Phones
Let's start with two simple ones -- OFFICE HOURS & PHONE. Try calling Ascension or, for that matter, call St. George's Monday through Thursday, 10am to 2pm. Press your extension and you may very well reach the party to whom you're trying to call. Now, Fr. Greg may be in a meeting or worship, or Gail may be on the other line or down the hall, but they'll get your message and you may very well get their voice. OFFICE HOURS: Monday through Thursday, 10am to 2pm. Gail is at Ascension on Mon+Th, and at St. George's Tues+Wed, but even if you call her line -- and she's not in the physical office -- she can still get your call. Greg will most often be at Ascension Tuesdays and Wed. mornings; St. George's Wed. afternoons and Thursdays. Try calling his number at either place, and it'll ring to his cell phone, too.
There's a lot we are figuring out, trying out, and working to improve, day after day. Thank you, in advance, for your patience and participation and understanding. The 'big picture' is that Ascension and St. George's are jointly expanding ministries and increasing efficiencies of scale, but how does that work 'on the ground'? Good question! First, we both share two staff persons -- our parish administrator, Gail Dobson, and our rector, Fr. Greg Syler. Second, Gail and Greg are working to establish at both churches an in-house presence that's consistent and regular. Of course, we're in the human flourishing business, so schedules sometimes need to change depending on pastoral or church needs. Third, and together with parish leadership, Gail and Greg are working to develop more efficient, multisite administrative opportunities. On this, technology actually helps us -- the phone can be answered even if the Parish Administrator or Rector is 'off site'; emails can be volleyed remotely; and if it looks like a given office is 'closed' that might actually mean that parish administration is happening in the background. Again, thank you for your continued patience and participation and understanding! We appreciate hearing from you -- what's working, what needs attention, what can be improved, what you appreciate. Thank you.