church

Mission

"Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission." - Zig Ziglar 

The word "mission" has Christian connotations.  Even as it is used in secular context, it is often to reference the deep, abiding sense of purpose that Christianity holds in sharing the Gospel.  The Book of Common Prayer defines the mission of the church within the catechism, "The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ."

The vestry of Ascension adopted this as our mission statement too.  It is precise, yet inclusive.  The catechism goes on to say, "The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love."  This is all true at Ascension, in our gathering and serving the community around us, we fulfill our desire to restore unity between God and all people.

More often, when we speak of "mission", it is in reference to an annual youth trip, one that is focused on serving others.  This use of the word, aligns with the aforementioned descriptions too.  And, just as our various meetings and ministries fulfill our purpose, so too, the particulars of the youth mission vary from year to year.  

This year our youth are preparing for a trip to Alaska.  This is more extreme than many prior mission trips, our prior connections there have helped ease some of the typical challenges.  Our youth will certainly need our support, in prayer and in their fundraising to complete this aspect of our collective mission.

Blessings -
Fr. Paul

Church Beyond our Walls: Sharing our Faith

"The Church is the new creation, it is life and joy, it is the sacramental fellowship in which we share the ultimate purpose of God, made real for us now in our hearing the Word and sharing the Sacrament." - Rowan Williams

The power of God is evident through the scripture and the sacraments, indeed through our following of Christ.  Even so, sharing our faith can be a tremendous challenge.  In part, the personal nature of how we have experienced God can be tender.  Sometimes we don't share out of fear of rejection or even mockery; other times we may hesitate due to the differences we may experience between our own faith and that of others.

The gap between those who attend church and those who don't is growing.  An ever increasing number of people don't go to church, many don't even know the Gospel story.  This can be good news, in that some will marvel at the power of God as we share it.  At the same time, there is an unprecedented number of people who have been offended, or worse, by the church or those professing their faith in ways that can be brash or problematic.

It is up to us to embrace this call in the Gospel, to model sharing that reflects our understanding of God's call.  Sometimes this can be daunting.  Ascension is hosting "Church Beyond the Walls" a practical workshop that provides a framework for developing an intentional evangelistic strategy for parishes.  Carrie Headington will offer insight as to how to share our faith, as we strive to be Christ to the world.  I hope that you will join us on Saturday September 23rd from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m for this event.  You can register here: http://edod.org/resources/articles/church-beyond-the-walls/

Blessings -
Fr. Paul

The importance of parking lots...

"Be generous with your time and money - it has an amazingly fast payback. Be in the moment with everyone you love - and this frequently means tuning out work completely. And drive slow in parking lots." - Scott Weiss

The importance of parking lots can easily be missed.  Whether at work, a restaurant, or out shopping, often our focus is already on the next task and parking becomes an automated ritual.  The parking lot is an important place, as a first impression as well as a transition point from our last stop, or even the act of driving, into the next thing.

At Ascension we are blessed with a lot of parking.  Some have noted that it sometimes takes weeks or months for a new member to know that parking wraps around the north end of the building as well.  The staff can all tell you which spots are shady on a summer day, as well as how that moves from morning to afternoon.  A rainy day may leave us all scrambling for a spot closer to a door...any door.

As we work to update some of the signage on campus we will be reducing the number of "guest" spots.  There are currently eight spaces designated for guests.  I'm an optimistic man, but eight is more than we need.  Further, I believe we need to leave spaces with limited mobility and those with small children.  If you can read between the lines a bit, I'm asking all those able to walk easily to leave the closest spots for those who need them, a good practice everywhere for that matter.  

Blessings - 
Fr. Paul