As you may know, I have just returned from my sabbatical/clergy renewal time. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to let go, invest in my family, discover our ancestral roots, and immerse ourselves in cultural exchange—it was the experience of a lifetime. I’ll be sharing more in the months to come. But today, I want to convey my gratitude for St. Bart’s.
Over the course of 14 weeks, I took a broad, unscientific survey of churches in parts of Guatemala, London, Wales, Ireland, Israel, Palestine, Massachusetts, and San Diego. I visited more than fifty churches and prayed in countless others. Yes, that is a lot of churches. What did I see? What did I learn?
In church after church, I listened as clergy person after clergy person, lay leader after lay leader shared a universal message: although they love their churches, they are exhausted, and their parking lots, worship services, and formation classes are quiet and empty. Most churches are dead or on life support.
A few parishes have been reborn through tourism and art galleries. The vast majority, however, are struggling to keep their doors open. To be honest, it was depressing and frustrating, because I believe the world—every country, every neighborhood, every generation to come—needs to know the power of God’s love as expressed through the Jesus Movement.
My experiences in these churches affirmed that the St. Bart’s mission is to defy the decline of sacramental churches—to be a seven-day-a-week faith family serving our neighbors, both locally and around the world. Over the years, St. Bart’s has evolved to meet God’s urgent cry to spread the Good News, and it continues to demonstrate a willingness to risk it all, to embrace change and manifest the abundance of God’s love. What a privilege it is to come home to a community of people determined to welcome folks into fellowship and transform lives! Churches like ours—beacons of hope, safe places for all—are needed more than ever.
Now is the time to engage your journey with your fellow sojourners. This newsletter is one big WELCOME HOME message, with opportunities for everyone, from every generation, to meet and serve others and to discover Jesus alive in our hearts, over and over again.
Come make St. Bart’s your spiritual home! Come invite and welcome others yearning to find God. And come celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ in real-time, in the midst of our daily lives.