A weekly Rector’s Notes article, June 24, 2019
What did you know about the Episcopal Church before you first entered one?
What did you know about St. Stephen’s before you first joined this community?
And, what do others know about us?
One of the goals I have for St. Stephen’s is for our identity as a welcoming, affirming, missional community to be known throughout all of Longview/Kelso and the greater Cowlitz County. When someone hears that you attend St. Stephen’s Episcopal, I want the reaction to be one of knowing what that means, what we stand for, how we share our faith, what we do in and for our community.
In order to share that identity it is important for us to engage in the community, not just through our outreach and service, but also through other engaging and innovative efforts that share who we are with as many people as possible in our wider community.
We have already started with some of this work this year.
- The new banner on the north side of our church (along Louisiana) that proclaims our love for all of our neighbors
- The travelling Pride banner and participation in Longview Pride at the beginning of the month with other affirming parishes in town
- Our special concert event (in less than 2 weeks!) on July 7th, that welcomes not only a traveling band but the whole community to find a space to enjoy music that doesn’t necessarily exist otherwise in Longview
- Our coming participation in Squirrel Fest on August 17th
It is this last one that I want to draw special attention to today. We will have a table at Squirrel Fest 2019 in order to engage with our community. We will share information about our parish, the different events we host, the way we worship, about Radical Love and Winter’s Night, and we will do a kindness for our neighbors.
This last piece will require something of everyone in the parish, but if we all chip in, we will make a large impact. I’m asking every family in the parish to contribute (1) case of bottled water, that we will distribute for free to everyone attending Squirrel Fest on a hot, hot August day. Through this simple act of kindness we will share our name and message with many people who may otherwise never know we exist. We will also have a sign up sheet for volunteers to help distribute the water and to share about your experience in being a member of St. Stephen’s.
These are just some of the ways we are beginning to engage in our wider community and I welcome any and all ideas about how we can further be known for who we are, what we do, and perhaps most importantly, how we authentically live into what we believe.