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Blessing Upon Blessing

By Reverend Canon Jane Gerdsen

I love this picture. It was taken at our parish picnic this summer. I was asked to pray before we ate, as priests often are! And as I started praying, Maddie ran up to give me a hug. It was a real moment in time that captures how I feel about our life together at St. Barnabas.

My ministry is blessed by yours over and over again - what I receive from you, continues to feel like this photo. As I pray, or visit, or gather with you, I feel the blessing of God return to enfold me.

St. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 

I see this happening in our St. Barnabas community. The generosity of this church is astounding – you offer what you have to build each other up. And what you share comes back in love and support and encouragement. This is our greatest blessing – our care for each other and for all God’s people.

In a world full of division and brokenness, you model love to all. Each Sunday our worship uplifts me and inspires my faith in a God who sustains us and calls us to share that love with the world. Our liturgy gives glory to God week after week – not just the beautiful music that uplifts us, and the many people who lovingly tend to our building, prepare the altar, read God’s word, and offer communion with grace, but in the Holy Spirit which surrounds us and energizes us for ministry out in the world.

Our leaders worked to create a new mission statement this year that summarizes this: The mission of St. Barnabas is to be a community of spiritual growth and to courageously share God’s love with all people.

I believe that we are living into this mission. We are committed to deepening our faith and growing in our relationship with God and one another. And as we do this, we share God’s love in word and deed. The beauty of this mission is that it reminds us that we are blessed by blessing others. 

Our ministries continue to grow and thrive as the reports in this booklet will demonstrate. Our outreach ministries continue to offer food, housing, and emergency assistance to those in need. Our inreach ministries offer comfort and support to our members and especially in times of loss. We said goodbye to some beloved members this year, and we celebrated their lives so beautifully, and your willingness to keep showing up and honoring them is a testament to our deep care.

Our Welcome Team (and our whole congregation) has opened our arms wide to include new members in our life together. We so enjoy our Newcomer Classes online and our Newcomer Brunches, many thanks to Jada and Jim Hill for offering their home to host us this year for those gatherings. But every Sunday is an opportunity to greet and extend a warm welcome to people joining us. We also welcomed new people from the community to St. Barnabas, uplifting hearts through our new St.B@3 Music series, thanks to parishioner Martha Seagram and her team. 

Our Online Ministry also continues to grow as we have more people join us each week for worship and this past year we launched our St. Barnabas app, which has been a great source of connection, as people check out our blog, use it to access Ministry Matters, or access the online directory. If you want more information about how to download the app or our member portal let us know! We also have been working to update our website and create new video content and we launched a new Welcome video that is on our website.

Our Children and Youth ministry is a source of joy and exuberant life. We have so many young people! The reports outline the wonderful success of these ministries, but just a few highlights for me continue to be the joy of Art Camp, the gift of traveling with our youth on the Summer Mission Trip to Asheville, and all of the baptisms (8) and confirmations (17) over this past year. I am so grateful to Erika and Devin and the many volunteers that make these ministries possible.

And the glue that holds it all together is our Connections ministry, which weaves our congregation together and helps us deepen our connections to God and one another and to celebrate as a beloved community. Whether through our Red Door Kitchen events, or our Lenten Series as we explored

A Wrinkle in Time, or in potluck dinners, Christmas parties, or the Sunday Morning Reflection Group, these gatherings remind us that the church is the people.

As we begin a new year, I pray that St. Barnabas may continue to be a place of blessing and a community of encouragement. “May we all receive blessing upon blessing. And may we realize our power to bless, heal, and renew one another.”

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