Annual Rector Report; Given as the Sermon at the 10am Eucharist on the Third Sunday in Easter, April 30, 2017

Today is the Annual Meeting and Election. I want to share with you our successes of this past year. I would like to express my gratitude to everyone. I would especially like to thank some of the people who went above and beyond to help St. Paul’s. I want to say something that connects today’s lessons to the Gospel. To finish, I want to bring you a hopeful message about plans for the future.

1. Preservation Successes

Many of you have received a letter from me asking for financial support for the church. In that letter I outlined the visible successes of the last year. Much of this was made possible by your generous donations to the capital campaign we had more than a year ago.

The push for a new roof really seems to have started with Luann Conlon.

The roof specifications, help with selection of the roofers, the negotiations, the contract, and the supervision of the project fell to Joe Conlon. Thank you so much Joe and Luann!

So, now we have a 200 year copper roof. But we also have done some other things.

Marjory MacChesney, may God rest her soul, left us some money. We used that money to take down the overgrown trees that were lifting up the sidewalks. We took out the bad concrete and repaired the sidewalks on 3rd St. and State St. Thank you Marjory!

We also paved the parking lot behind the church. We are now renting out 5 parking spots off of 4th St. during the week.

The large Tiffany Lamps in the church have all been repaired, cleaned and new LED bulbs installed.

We have new lighting for the sanctuary. We have lighting for the side-chapel, and plenty of light on the Tiffany stenciled ceiling.

We have long-overdue electrical work being done on all three floors of the Guild House.

This summer the protective glass exterior covers on the tall church windows will be repaired.

I am hoping we will be able to completely replace the protective cover on the large East Window (Thompson Window: The Vision of St. Paul). This will depend on getting a special grant for some of the money.

2. Staffing and organization

Last October we finally hired a parish administrator. Shannon Ames will be at the annual meeting, which starts at 1145a this morning in the Guild House. Shannon is already having a positive effect.

[Personal thanks extended to the Deacon, Staff, Vestry, Choir, Sunday school, Acolytes, etc.]

3. Rector Duties

Some people want to know what I do with my time. I respond by saying that I am the Rector of St. Paul’s Church. I have sacramental, liturgical, pastoral, and administrative responsibilities.

I am Chairman of the Board of Governors and Chaplain at Canterbury House, a senior adult facility in Troy

I am Coordinator of Misconduct Prevention for the Diocese of Albany. The Episcopal Diocese of Albany has 122 congregations. It covers an area that goes from the Canadian border down to almost Kingston, and from Vermont to Oneonta. The diocese is in 19 counties and I have been to all of those counties.

I am the Chaplain at Van Rensselaer Manor, the county nursing home. I present programs for quiet days, retreats, Lenten programs, etc. for churches. There are also wedding preparation sessions, weddings and funerals. Lots of meetings.

And the Deacon and I visit the sick and homebound.

4. Bible Readings for Today and Reflection

In the fall of this year I will finish 13 years and will be starting my 14th year here at St. Paul’s. This past week I was looking over my previous reports and sermons on the day of the Annual Meeting.

The first year when Marianne and I came to Troy we had exactly the same set of readings as we have today. We don’t have these readings every year. But we did have exactly the same readings during my first year at the Annual Meeting.

The second reading is taken from the First Letter of Peter. This reading addresses the most basic truth about human existence:

1 Peter 1:23 “You have been born anew, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable seed, through the living and abiding [or enduring] word of God.”

What does this lesson tell us? In this passage we are reminded that God has a plan to save us because human beings are not just stuff that will decay and blow away. We are actually carefully designed and made as eternal beings from “imperishable seed.” We are each extremely well crafted (created in the image of God) and intended by God to live joyfully with Him forever.

The first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. This lesson speaks about how the Gospel is communicated. Acts 2: verse 41 says, “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Three thousand people joined the church that day!

What is the lesson in this passage from Acts? In heaven we will experience the fullness of Salvation. While we wait, we show love and hospitality as the most basic communication of the Christian life. We do this especially by inviting members into the church.

The Gospel text for today is taken from Luke, chapter 24. This passage is the story of the dispirited disciples who met the Risen Lord on the road to Emmaus.

The whole Emmaus narrative is a description of how the Gospel is revealed. The Gospel is a Revelation from Almighty God. The disciples needed to understand how death and resurrection is proper and fitting to the Messiah before they could recognize the risen Lord.

The disciples could not recognize Jesus. They walked along and talked with him. They thought they knew what was going on. But it was only when they invited him to dinner, and then allowed him to take charge of the meal that they suddenly knew he was Jesus.

What is the teaching in this passage from Luke’s account? The Gospel is a process of discovery. Most people won’t know Jesus UNTIL they have walked, talked and shared table fellowship with Him over some time. That is why we need the church to do be able to do these things together. We need to spend time with Jesus so that we are able to recognize him on sight, call him Lord, and trust in his gift to us.

So, in sum, in order for the Church to be able to share the Gospel effectively, we invite new people into the church. Once those people are in the church we must to be able to recognize Jesus so that we can teach the new people how to recognize Jesus.

5. Which leads me to the challenges and plans going forward.

Membership and finances: We need to come together to make a plan to grow the church. The vestry and I have agreed to study the way we do things. We will evaluate the various ministries in the church, and make necessary changes. We will be asking for everybody’s input and suggestions for how to make us better.

I ask you to approach the future with hope and expectation, and not with anxiety and suspicion. The vestry is committed to making St. Paul’s a bigger and better church. Please help us in our efforts.

In the coming weeks we will be communicating with you our plans for self-study and making improvements.

I would like to thank everybody associated with St. Paul’s for your support of the church.

Let us pray. Almighty and everlasting Father, you have given the Holy Spirit to abide with us for ever: Bless us, we pray, with his grace and presence, as we assemble at our Annual Meeting, that your Church, being preserved in true faith and godly discipline, may fulfill all the mind of him who loved it and gave himself for it, your Son Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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