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Lay Chairperson Report - January 2007

Submitted by Ken Stevens

January, 2007

As St. Luke parish marches into it’s 22nd year, it will represent a vital time for both past reflection and future planning. In terms of reflection, the many spiritual and physical achievements attained by its dedicated parish members during the past 20+ years has afforded St. Luke’s substantial personal fulfillment. Enormous strides have been made on many fronts, as both established and newer members have dedicated heartfelt efforts to contributing and maintaining parish vision and growth. We appreciate the efforts of so many in the Parish, such as Philip Neznanov’s willingness to accept the position as Financial Secretary when Mary Kincaid was inundated with other parish ministry responsibilities earlier - just one example of helping one another in the ministries realm. As we move forward, we pray for God’s continued grace, guidance and blessings, each and every day along the way.

But even more importantly, 2007 will be a year of serious planning for our parish. The time has come to revamp our strategic plan and reassess our vision for future direction. To that end, we have recently completed a new church survey tool, which is part and parcel of an entire program from OCA called the National Church Development Project (NCD). This is a substantial effort spearheaded by Fr. Jonathan Ivanoff (New York), with focused efforts on parish health facilitation. The survey that 35 parishioners completed in late December will measure the quality of parish life in eight different areas . The analyzed results of the survey, scheduled for completion early February, will form the basis for development for the strategic plan. Fr. Ivanoff will process the survey, write a summary report, and return the report to St. Luke. We will complete the analysis, planning, implementation, etc., as we have done in previous years, and issue the final plan document to all of our parishioners.

Just before sending the newly-completed surveys to Fr. Ivanoff recently, I had a chance to anecdotally preview the responses to some of the key variables in the 90-question survey screener (please know that all questionnaires are anonymous and the evaluation itself will be treated absolutely confidentially). I found the following responses noteworthy:

Church Planning: As one might expect (since we have not issued a revised plan for nearly two years), generally "average ratings" were ascribed on church planning measures such as

* Being fully informed about church growth
* Awareness of the churches’ future goals.

Spiritual and Relational Issues: Higher-than-average ratings were given by parishioners relative to spiritual and relational metrics; namely,

* The positive influence the worship service has on St. Luke parishioners
* The substantial "joy and laughter" in the church.
* Personal enthusiasm for church life
* The level of pastoral involvement in eliciting help from lay people to complement his own efforts

Church Ministries: The survey appears to have evoked a mixed response with reference to church ministries evaluative measures.:

* The support one feels from the church relative to their respective church ministries was rated mostly above average ("great extent" or "very great extent").
* The perceived helpfulness of the various ministries to one’s particular needs elicited an across-the-board, disparate response.
Level of motivation for doing church work also received a widely contrasting response.

Caveat: Please understand that these select survey responses will need to be thoroughly and expertly analyzed along with all others before any solid conclusions and implications are determined, and will be reflected in the final assessment returned to us by Fr. Ivanoff (NCD) in February. Following the survey analysis, you can expect subsequent individual and collective group discussion in early 2007 with both Pastorate and Parishioners. As a result of these efforts, we will ultimately define a new vision and mission as well as freshen existing goals and strategies for moving St. Luke forward on all levels. Your open and honest input through the process will be critical and always welcome.

We are a parish that hungers for spiritual growth, and we all know a spirit-filled life is a lifelong struggle worth waging. But as importantly, we are a parish dedicated to serving others-that too must be continually nurtured. I personally believe that all of God’s commandments can be boiled down into one essential mandate: Love God and love others. I frequently think of the St. Luke parish at-large whenever I observe one of my favorite icons - The Washing of the Feet. This is a story of consummate service and love for others and beautifully told in the Scriptures in John 13.

"Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, you shouldn’t be washing our feet like this.’ Jesus replied, ‘but if I don’t, you can’t be my partner.’ Simon Peter exclaimed, 'Then wash my hands and head as well...not just my feet....Jesus said, ‘Since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet...how true it is that a servant is not greater than his master. You know these things--now do them! That is the path of blessing."

God willing, we will continue to increase in love, in faith, in spiritual understanding at St. Luke’s. Our faith will then be stronger. Our love for Him and one another will be enhanced. And our service to Him and others will know no bounds.

"That is the path of blessing."