Congregation Close-up: St. Luke’s, Grants Pass

Congregation Close-up: St. Luke’s, Grants Pass

By the Rev. Ernestein Flemister, rector

St. Luke’s is excited about becoming more active in our outreach. We are a part of the Grants Pass community and we want to show up in and for our community. A part of our call as disciples of Jesus is to live in witness to the “Good News” that Jesus Christ shared with us. That Good News is not just for us within the four walls of our church, we want to be nurturing of all of God’s people. We don’t want to show up in a way that says we will do this for you but in and through partnerships that listens and finds out how we fit in and how we can help.

We had our vestry retreat in January and we began to discuss things that we thought would interest the congregation in getting more involved with the community of Grants Pass. In our efforts to get moving, the vestry establish three committees: Outreach, Social Justice and Fund Raising. We talked to the congregation and asked them to volunteer for the committee that interested them.  The Outreach Committee received a good number of volunteers and have suggested ideas to get us up and running. The approach is to build more relationships in the community where we ask what their needs are and determine ways in which we can become an active and committed part of helping to make Grants Pass a home for everyone.

Pillowcases sewn by members of St. Luke’s Quilting Group for children in the foster care system.

Two ideas in particular have gathered steam: in conjunction with partners in the area we are finding out if a monthly breakfast for the community is needed.  The other idea is to renovate our basement, install washing machines and dryers to allow the homeless to have a place to wash and dry their clothes without cost to them.

We are forming partnerships with other churches and community organizations to maximize resources so they can reach the most people. We are excited about the possibilities of our outreach efforts and we pray that God will bless our efforts so that we can be a blessing to our community. As we make efforts to contribute to Grants Pass, I believe that we will grow in God’s spirit and show generosity to those who need our love and support.

May God prosper the works of our hands.

Visit the St. Luke’s website.

Congregation Close-up: St. Mark’s, Medford

Building for the Future with a major expansion project

By the Rev. Tom Sramek, Jr., rector of St. Mark’s, Medford

As we move toward our 130th Anniversary on June 18, 2019, St. Mark’s is poised to move confidently into the future with new energy as a growing, thriving church in Southern Oregon. Our $2 million “Building For the Future” (BFF) Capital Project will be completed this summer, adding over 7,000 square feet of office, classroom, kitchen, library, social hall, food pantry storage, and restroom space to our church building. We look forward to engaging with the surrounding community in new and expanded ways with our new facilities.

At the same time as the excitement over our anniversary grows and our building also grows, we recognize the need to grow into new ways of being church in the twenty-first century. Within our congregation, this means experimenting with more gender-inclusive Eucharistic liturgy, establishing and sustaining small “dinner groups” to help people know one another better, building a robust year-round stewardship plan, and strengthening and refining our process of inviting new people, welcoming them, and connecting them to our common life.

In our neighborhood, new ways of being church involves expanding our food pantry capacity, strengthening our relationship with other nonprofit partners to serve the community more effectively together, and increasingly becoming advocates for social justice in our city. We are also looking towards creating a strategic plan for 2020 and beyond that will likely include both intentional welcome of our LGBTQ+ faith siblings and providing a sanctuary for those who have been traumatized by their experiences of other Christian faith traditions.

Our relatively new mission statement asserts that we are people devoted to “Sharing Christ’s love by feeding people in body, mind, and spirit.” We look forward to living out that mission and continuing to gather the physically, intellectually, and spiritually hungry from Medford and across the Rogue Valley.

Visit the St. Mark’s website.

Congregation Close-up: St. Thomas, Dallas

In a town of roughly 15,000 people, St. Thomas is a church dependent on lay members and deeply engaged with the Dallas community. Vicar Fred Heard says, “We are a family and that is how we function. Occasionally we have family squabbles, but we come together and recognize we are Christ-centered.”

Whether it’s for their family-and-friends Thanksgiving dinner or people who came in when the church was open as a winter warming shelter, St. Thomas welcomes all who come through their doors.

In 2017 members of St. Thomas helped organize a Rally Against Hate at the Polk County Courthouse.

St. Thomas is committed to promoting community health. They were the first church in Dallas to open their doors for meetings of 12 Step programs, and currently host weekly meetings for AA, Al-Anon, and Weightwatchers. In 2018, when a local gun shop owner was raffling off AR-15 weapons, church members went to the school board and the city council to express their concern.

This dedication to family, community, and health also expresses itself in fun: this past Valentine’s Day, the congregation stepped out to spread love throughout the town by taking cookies to businesses, service personnel, and their neighbors to say “Thank you!”

Visit the St. Thomas website.