Dear St. Thomas’,
A week from Sunday (4 November) we’ll be celebrating All Saints’. Three children will be baptized at the 10am service. I discussed with several people a plan to move that service into the Parish Hall because I was worried not everyone would fit! After continued discussion, I have been assured that due to a variety of circumstances (e.g., Ham & Oyster prep) things should balance out OK and we should be able to have the baptisms in our historic nave.
I am happily deferring to others’ judgement in this case.
St. Thomas’ is bursting at the seams! That is a good thing: it is the sign of a church with a future. It also means much creative thinking will be required! Just to have enough seats for “the regulars” isn’t enough: room to be hospitable and welcoming to newcomers is critical if St. Thomas’ is to survive into the future.
What does this look like? It means having a pew where a whole family can sit together. Where they don’t have to crawl over others to get into it. A pew that’s not at the very front nor at the very back. A place where a family can feel they’re not inconveniencing anyone else, but instead feel like they are where they were meant to be because, indeed, God has brought them here this day.
So what do you do when you are a growing church? If everyone who belongs to St. Thomas’ was to show up for a particular service, we wouldn’t all fit in the nave! Moving some larger services over to the Parish Hall will soon become a necessary compromise. Sadly and ironically, those service where we most want to remain connected to our beautiful, historic worship space (e.g., baptisms, Christmas Eve, Easter morning, Bishops’ visits) are those most likely to need to be moved!
I invite you to be in conversation with your Vestry and with me about how St. Thomas’ can be more accommodating today and how we might plan for the future. God is not calling us to be the church we were yesterday. God is calling us to carry forward our vision, hopes, and dreams that we had yesterday, and to apply them to today. St. Thomas’ is not a museum, but the living body of Christ changing lives and healing the world, one compassionate embrace at a time.