A weekly Rector’s Notes Article, September 23, 2019
Newcomers classes are an opportunity. They are an opportunity first and foremost for those new to the Episcopal Church to learn about who we are, what we do, and why we do it. It is also a great opportunity to start to connect the newcomer to the unique expression of faith and service at a specific congregation.
But, I want us at St. Stephen’s to see the newcomers class as an additional opportunity for every person in the congregation.
We are doing some pretty exciting things here at St. Stephen’s. We have the Seasons of Prayer formation programming kicking off on October 6, Parish Potluck and all. That same day we will be celebrating St. Francis and his legacy, as we welcome pets (both in person and via photo) for blessings at the 10:30am liturgy. Throughout October we will be engaging in discerning how the Way of Love inspires and informs our understanding of stewardship, culminating in a wonderful celebration for All Saints Sunday, hopefully with at least one baptism!
During this time, we will also be offering the first in a series of newcomers classes, which we’re calling Episcopal 101 (followed by 102 and then 202). This is an opportunity then to do something really exciting and faithful: inviting someone new to church.
St. Stephen’s is a vibrant and exciting place of ministry, service, outreach and more, and it’s time that we begin sharing that reality with our neighbors. With all that we have upcoming, it is a great time to invite a friend who has been curious (or even not, maybe you just feel so called to do so), and it is an especially appropriate time to welcome new people into our midst as we offer our fall newcomers class for those who are curious, interested in kicking the tires, in getting a feel for who we are and why we do the things that we do.
I want to challenge every member of St. Stephen’s to invite a friend to join us at St. Stephen’s this upcoming month for worship and programs. The vestry has already accepted this challenge and we’ll be discussing how it goes for each vestry member at our next meeting (if you also participate, please let a vestry member know your own experience of extending an invitation).
Let them know that we have this newcomers class if they are very interested in all that we have to offer both here and in the context of the larger Episcopal Church. But, even if that’s not the right fit for them yet, still extend that invitation to have them join us, with the first Sunday gatherings being an especially great first introduction to our community. Also, know that the invitation will not always be accepted, and that is ok, simply making the invitation is often the hardest part and it creates an open door for when that person is ready to walk through it.
Perhaps, we’ll find some people who are very excited about the type of worship and experience we offer, who are hungry for a church home and did not know that St. Stephen’s could meet their needs. We certainly won’t know if we could’ve been that home if we don’t ask.