Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Annual Parish Meeting: A Celebration of Ministry, by the Rev. Peter J. Van Hook

Canon 35.1 Annual Meeting. There shall be an Annual Meeting of every Congregation on the date specified in the Congregation’s bylaws. Canons of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah

Meetings of the Congregation
An annual meeting shall be held each year at a time and place designated by the Cleric-in-Charge and Bishop’s Committee. Notice of the meeting shall be published not less than two weeks prior to the meeting. The purpose of the meeting shall be to hear the report of the Bishop’s Committee; receive the report of the Treasurer and all organizations of the Congregation; elect members of the Bishop’s Committee, delegates and alternate delegates to the diocesan convention; and to conduct other business as required. Bylaws of St. Mary's Episcopal Church

          Whenever two or three Episcopalians are gathered together they are a prayer group. As soon as they agree to meet again they are an organization.

         “I’m sick and tired of organized religion!” “Then come to the Episcopal Church! We’re the most disorganized religion around!”

These two witticisms neatly encapsulate life in a small Episcopal congregation: The best part about it is the relationships; the problematic part is often the organizational responsibilities.

An interesting fact of life in voluntary organizations (the fancy name for community service organizations as well as churches) is that when they fail, upwards of half the cause can be related to a lack of attention to organizational concerns, to things like budgets and accounting, human resource management, care for physical plant, and governance.

No priest or deacon ever was ordained who did so in order to attend meetings. No parishioner ever joined a congregation looking forward to congregational meetings. The problem is stated by the first quip (ascribed to a previous Bishop of Colorado): We must attend to the organizational concerns of our congregations or all the rest of it soon begins to fall apart.

This year our Annual Meeting will not only include the usual elections, appointments, and reports, but it will also feature a celebration of the four areas of ministry of this congregation: our Sunday morning worship, our hosting of the support groups, that meet here, the Food & Care Coalition Ministry, and the Community Music Outreach Program. There will be special guests as well. And of course, good food and fellowship.

I invite you, indeed I urge you, to attend this Annual Meeting.

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