THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF THE ASCENSION
NORTHWOODS, MISSOURI 63121
September 1, 2014
Dear Friends in Christ,
Saint Francis of Assisi encouraged the faithful of his 13th century religious community to, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.” For him, as well as us, the “Good News” of Christ is made known not only through proclamation, but also in faithful, humble service.
Thus, “Praying with Our Feet … Serving with Our Hands” became the mantra of St. Louis’ faith communities – Christian, Jewish and Muslim—as we worked to calm tensions in Ferguson following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, bring peace to streets that had experienced nights’ of violence and seek justice for his family, the police officer who shot him and the entire St. Louis region. The tragedy in Ferguson also summoned all of us to care for those whose lives and businesses have been directly impacted by looting and violence – delivering food, sharing time with children unable to attend school, providing medical care and so much more. I’m especially grateful for the members of Ascension, St. Barnabas and St. Peter’s Episcopal Churches who delivered food to Ferguson residents and staffed the booth usually operated by St. Stephen’s at the weekly Ferguson Farmers’ Market on Saturday, August 23 to give them time to rest after the stress of the preceding weeks. Together, we raised almost $300 to support its food pantry. In addition, we’re pleased to be part of the team working to secure funds from the national office of The Episcopal Church to assist with economic re-investment in North County, provide training and employment for young people and expand the ministry of several food pantries, including Ascension’s.
Much needs to be done in our community in the days, months and years ahead to address the many complex factors which contributed to the shooting of Michael Brown and response to it. Ascension must and will be part of this ongoing conversation to help our region heal and move forward. But, most important, we’ll continue to be the church – praying with our feet and serving with our hands.
“Being the church” is fundamentally about faithful discipleship in the name of Jesus, being the presence of Christ for all whose lives we might touch. It’s about our care for each other, our ministries to the larger community and our gracious, joyful welcome to all. It’s also about our worship, the space in which we offer it and the stewardship of the resources entrusted to us.
For the past nine months, the Bishop’s Committee has considered the possibility of renovating our sanctuary to better accommodate our needs and style of worship and prepare for the future. Essential to this process have been your recommendations, as well as those of the several priests and architects who’ve assisted us. The possibilities are exciting, and I’m encouraged that funding for an eventual renovation project may be available. But, we’re now at a critical point. In order to translate our thoughts and ideas into an actual plan, we need to retain an architectural firm. Proposals were solicited from three local firms. One, Atelier3Design, based in Wellston, emerged as the leading candidate. Next Sunday, September 7, the firm’s principal architect and our consulting architect (a member of Grace Episcopal Church in Kirkwood) will join us for a parish conversation immediately following our worship service to discuss the planning and design process, their vision for our space and the fees for their work. I hope you will join this conversation and share your questions and concerns. This decision is among the most important we’ll make, and your perspective and voice are essential. The Bishop’s Committee will meet on Sunday, September 21 to determine whether to proceed with the development of a master plan for our facility and grounds.
· This Saturday, September 6, we’ll host an outdoor yard sale and BBQ on our parking lot from 8:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M. to raise money for the completion of our parish hall renovations. We need your help! On Thursday, September 4, we’ll organize and price the items for sale beginning at 10:30 A.M. On Saturday at 7:00 A.M., we need “some strength” to help set up the parking lot and, beginning at 8:00 A.M., people to greet customers, assist with the sale and serve food. What an opportunity this is for our parish as a witness to our neighbors and the larger community. Please make this a priority for your Saturday.
· On Tuesday, September 9, our middle and high school youth are invited to join the new Episcopal Service Corps members at Deaconess Anne House for dinner. Transportation will be provided. We’ll depart from Ascension at 6:15 P.M. and return by 8:45 P.M.
· The 2014-2015 class of Episcopal Service Corps members will be commissioned in a special liturgy at Deaconess Anne House, 1416 Sullivan Street, on Saturday, September 13 at 6:00 P.M., followed by dinner. Please join in welcoming them to St. Louis and celebrating their ministries.
· On Sunday, September 14, the middle and high school youth of Ascension and St. Barnabas Episcopal Churches will serve lunch at the Trinity Episcopal Church food pantry in the Central West End. We’ll depart immediately following our worship service and return by 5:00 P.M. Transportation and a late lunch will be provided.
And finally, I’m especially pleased to share that we’ll be the “sponsoring parish” for Christopher Potter, one of the new Episcopal Service Corps members and residents of Deaconess Anne House. Christopher studied political science at the University of Massachusetts, from which he graduated in 2012. For the past year, he’s lived at Grace Episcopal Church in Manchester, New Hampshire where he coordinated the congregation’s community ministries. He’s an avid basketball player and reader and particularly interested in exploring the concept of “simple living” in his year among us. In addition to his ministry at Deaconess Anne House, Christopher will regularly join us for worship, fellowship and our work in the community. We look forward to sharing the life of Ascension with him and to the gifts he’ll share with us.
May God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – make us instruments of peace, faithful servants and bearers of the “Good News” in Christ Jesus.