2023 in Review

It was a good, steady year in 2023 at St. Luke’s. For this month’s newsleter, I am sharing with you portions of my Rector’s 2023 Review in our annual report. In this short version, you will find a summary of how we did with our 2023 goals, what were some of our major actvites, and what I am calling us to set as our goals for 2024. I am midway through my sixth year with you, and so grateful to be part of this congregation.

Since we have a great priest [Jesus Christ] over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another. (Hebrews 10:21-25)

These verses from Hebrews capture the heart of what has happened spiritually with us at St. Luke’s in 2023. We have stuck together, cared for one another, invited others to walk spiritually with us, and sought to share the light and love of Christ Jesus with the world around us in our words and acons. In Easter of 2022, I issued the call to Return, Revive, Arise. And for that year and through the first months of 2023, St. Luke’s responded brilliantly. People returned, energy revived, and the church community of St. Luke’s arose in care, outreach and witness, prayer and study, and celebration and adoration of God. In Easter of 2023, I offered a call to continue our work of reviving, and in addition to Prepare, Invite, and Share. And for the remainder of 2023, St. Luke’s responded. Last year was devoted to quietly solidifying, securing and strengthening what we had revived or created in the last few years. We joined with others across our diocese in preparing ourselves to share the Gospel more fully, by seeking to know Jesus more clearly, love Jesus more dearly, andfollow Jesus more nearly in our daily lives. Consider the ways we have met each of the five goals we set in 2023.

Increasing participation and leadership in St. Luke’s ministries and initiatives. More people have joined in different groups and gatherings, and more are helping to lead.

Strengthening invitation, welcome, and connection at St. Luke’s. People have come because they were invited. We have welcomed others and introduced them.

Growing families’ involvement and steady investment in St. Luke’s worship and programs. The Children’s Chapel team has blossomed and expanded tremendously, as have our acolytes.

Knowing Christ more clearly, loving Christ more dearly, and following Christ more nearly. We focused on Christ intently in scripture and prayer through the year.

Continuing to strengthen and deepen meaningful community connections and partnerships. We strengthened ties with organizations, joined the Chamber of Commerce, opened doors with NIC.

Worship. Our worship of God, the center of our lives together and a core of our deliberate discipleship, has been steady and enriching through 2023. We have settled well into our pattern of two Sunday services at 8 and 10 a.m., with Children’s Chapel during the 10 a.m. service. We continued to offer our two weekday worship services (Tuesday evenings, Wednesday noon) – center points of prayer for those who attend. One very special offering this year was our service of Christmas carols and readings at the Fort Sherman Chapel, for people at NIC. With this service, we have opened the door for other opportunities to lead and share worship at the Chapel, as one part of our outreach to NIC.

Christian Formation and Discipleship. Parents and congregation members stepped forward through the first part of 2023 to continue offering Children’s Chapel nearly every week. Since arriving, The Rev. Mary Ayers has coordinated with parents and other interested adults to collect ideas and share in building a strong, emerging program for Children’s Chapel.

Adults continued to gather in book groups through 2023. In addition, the Men’s Discussion Group formed to offer men a space (during a light dinner at the church) to talk about topics related to faith, daily life, and issues in the wider community and world. The Women’s Guild has also added time for spiritual reflection and discussion. Regular meditation on the biblical texts in “Who Is This Jesus?” has helped us remember and anchor our understanding of who Jesus is, what is most central to him, how he engages the world, and what it means to follow him. This is important in an age of distortions of the Gospel.

Community Mission, Outreach, Engagement, and Partnership. We have connued to build upon our involvement with civic events, expand our community involvement as individuals, offer steady presence and connection with specific community organizations, and open relationship with North Idaho College.

St. Luke’s participated again in Pride in the Park and in the Housing Resource Fair in Coeur d’Alene. Such events provided opportunities for people to encounter St. Luke’s, and for our church members to meet people from other organizations in the wider community. St. Luke’s continues offering food and other goods to food banks and shelters, tutoring with NIC and area schools, working with people who are homeless or facing deep financial challenge, supporting recovery groups, and serving on boards.

We have open welcome from NIC to come to campus, open conversations with staff, faculty and students, and offer times of prayer, worship, and discussion at the Fort Sherman Chapel. In-person connection, on campus, is how the team from St. Luke’s will direct its energy for NIC in 2024.

Financial Support. St. Luke’s has connued in a healthy financial status that carried us steadily through the pandemic and in these recent years of economic uncertainty. Even with economic challenges like inflation, your giving has remained steady. St. Luke’s continues to receive bequests. In 2023, St. Luke’s received bequests from the estates of two members who died. These bequests, totaling $305,000, were deposited directly into St. Luke’s endowment and long-term investment funds. Between positive investment growth and new bequests, the endowment and long-term investment funds have reached close to $950,000. The most significant growth in these funds comes from people who remember St. Luke’s in their wills.

Facilities. The St. Luke’s community continued moving forward on improvements to our facilies. The Parish Hall now has new internal entry doors. The livestream camera (purchased in 2022) was finally installed, and the sound system was channeled for livestream output – making for a fresh experience of our worship for online viewers. The office area was refreshed with new color. The phone system was updated. These are just a few of the many continuing improvements to our facility by an extraordinarily capable team of members deeply commitied to the care and improvement of our buildings and grounds. None of these things happened because of one person alone. Everyone plays a part in this body of Christ that we share and offer to the world around us. We continue growing in readiness and openness to shine light.

Goals for 2024. We continue to keep our vision and mission before us – sharing, celebrang and showing the unconditional love of Jesus, and building relationships in Christ through deliberate discipleship, courageous conversation, purposeful partnerships, and authenticaction. These shape and guide all that we do. Our goals for 2024 build upon our prior goals: increasing participation and leadership; inviting, welcoming and connecng people into St. Luke’s; strengthening involvement of families and children; building inter-generaonal relaonships; anchoring strong partnerships; and building connections in the wider community. In all these things, we want to be as focused, connected and effective as possible in our efforts, So, for this year, together we will—

• Share planning and leadership of worship, educaon, parish events, and community engagement.

• Practice deeper listening and holy, courageous conversa on with each other. • Prac ce courageous and caring conversa ons with staff, faculty, and students on the NIC campus.

• Follow up directly with every person who visits, with personal contact and conversaon.

• Launch learning and service programs for children and families, beginning with learning the Bible.

• Establish three enduring community partnerships, with one shared event among churches.

• Invite people who are seeking a healthy faith and recovering from difficult church experiences.

• Commit to growing more in faith – in scripture study, prayer, conversaon and service.

• Continue efforts to secure, beau fy and open up spaces in the church buildings, especially the nave.

The goals having to do with conversaon blend well with our diocese’s goals for growth in all our congregations. As we did last year, we ask that everyone spend time with the scriptures in our diocesan resource, “Listening to God and Our Neighbors,” (see p. 4 of this newsletter for a link to this resource) and to pray the Daily Examen and the Diocesan Prayer.

It takes all of us. I want each of us to let our light shine brightly. I want each of us to find our place to share in all that we can offer at St. Luke’s. Together, we will continue to nurture faith, practice love, listen for and speak truth in love, and serve the world around us. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gra”tude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16-17)

Fr. David


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