St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church, Fort Worth, Texas
Annual Parish Meeting
January 8, 2022
2022 was a good year for St. Luke’s in the Meadow. There were challenges along the way but more stability than in the previous two years. We were not shut down by the ongoing pandemic and in May of this year finally brought to a close the long and ugly litigation issue that disrupted our lives a bit. As a parish you have weathered these storms with faith, love and resilience.
In February 2022 we celebrated the life of The Reverend Mo Lewis who was one of our own. She was a vital part of our parish life and spiritual growth. Her sudden death left a hole in our parish family which was especially noticeable at Church in the Park and the Pet Blessings which she loved.
In April, our long-time Altar Guild Directress, Jeannie Russell retired. Her leadership is certainly missed. The Altar Guild has found a new way of functioning without a current Director. There are two teams but mostly whoever is here helps prepare for worship and Eucharist each Sunday. Thank you, Jeannie, for your many years of service. Thank you, current Altar Guild members, for your dedicated ministry of preparation every Sunday. And the extension of the Altar Guild is the Usher Team who set-ups chairs, folds worship leaflets, fills the baptismal font and does many other behind the scenes tasks. Thank you all! (If you would like to join the Altar Guild or Ushers/Greeters there will be a training session when we move to our new location, which I will talk more about in a minute.)
In May, I was away one weekend for the joyful occasion of my daughter’s wedding. Then at the end of May my 3-month sabbatical began. It was a much-needed time away for rest, recreation and rejuvenation. The toll of the past two years had been greater than I even realized. I was running on less than fumes and am very grateful for the gift of sabbatical to recharge and reconnect with God, myself, my family and friends. Thank you for the beautiful send-off, the communal prayer that traveled with me and was shared with others in my life, and especially for the joyful “welcome back” in September! It was one of the happiest days of my time with you over these eight years. Another joy was being able to share more about my pilgrimage with you as we did “The Way through Advent.” I was surprised by your interest and loved answering your questions and sharing more of the details of my journey. Again, thank you for the gift of sabbatical that made my 500+ mile walk possible!
In relationship to my sabbatical, I need to thank Robin Glaze, Senior Warden (now Bishop’s Warden) for all the extra time and duties she put in due to my absence. (Unfortunately, due to illness, Robin isn’t able to be here today. Her report will be read later in our meeting today.)
And a special thank you to all the supply clergy who were with you the Sundays I was away. The Rev. Canon Linda Taylor, The Rev. Eric Liles, and The Rev. Sandi Michels. And finally, thank you all for your faithfulness in attending church and being the dedicated lay leaders that you are!
Another exciting event in our parish life was our wonderful Organist/Choir Director, Tony Kroll, becoming a Postulant for Holy Orders. Tony facilitated the summer book study, Unabashedly Episcopalian, by The Right Reverend Andy Doyle, our diocesan bishop. We have also heard a few fabulous sermons from Tony as well as his continued music ministry for St. Luke’s. Tony serves on the Bishop’s Committee and is an integral member of the design team for our new location.
In June, when The Episcopal Church in North Texas, former Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, reunited with The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, St. Luke’s in the Meadow had an important decision to make regarding its classification as a parish or as a mission. Realizing that St. Luke’s met the criteria of being a mission rather than a parish in our new diocesan structure, the vestry voted in favor of mission status and you all supported that decision. Mission status means that we are eligible for more support from the Diocesan level. Our Vestry is now called the Bishop’s Committee. The Bishop’s Committee applied for a grant for $125,000 to be distributed in increments of $25,000 for the next five years to support operating expenses and the cost of full-time clergy. This grant was approved at the end of December and the first installment is already in our account. Receiving this grant shows the belief that the EDOT has in you as a vital faith community!
Our Sunday attendance is holding steady, and more and more visitors are finding their way to St. Luke’s. The number of pledges increased for this year by seven and the amount of those pledges is up 12% over last year, but I won’t steal all the thunder from our fabulous treasurer, William Ledbetter, who will give us more specifics in his report.
I will close with the good news that we are very close to signing a 3-year lease agreement with Meadowbrook-Poly United Methodist Church to use their Community Life Center as the new, temporary home for St. Luke’s and 4Saints. This is an exciting opportunity for us and for MPUMC. It puts us closer to where we will be at 5015 E. Lancaster after we raise money and build a building – puts us back in the Meadowbrook area of east Fort Worth. It will help MPUMC as they move forward in mission and ministry after the hurdles they have jumped with Covid, merging two churches and experiencing a split in their denomination. They are very excited about hosting us and in their words, “feeding people right from their campus.” They have a non-profit Community Garden that anyone from St. Luke’s is invited to participate with. The next meeting for that garden project is January 21st, at 9:30 a.m. Please let me or Patti Callahan know if you would like the details about that.
We are aiming for February 12 to be in our new worship space! Thank you to John, Patti, Tony and several 4Saints folks who have been working behind the scenes to make this possible! It will be our space – no set-up and tear down every week! No more wondering what we might find when we arrive on Sundays. And freedom to have gatherings whenever we would like to schedule them! All of this for about $200 monthly for St. Luke’s. And to top that off, our new organ will be delivered to that location in time for our first Sunday there!
Thanks be to God for all the many blessings St. Luke’s is experiencing! And thanks be to God for your faithful participation in the mission and ministry of Christ’s love in our community!
I am honored to serve with you and among you! I look forward to seeing what God has in store for St. Luke’s in the Meadow for 2023!
As they say on the Camino: Ultreia! (Onward! Forward! Let’s keep going!)
The Rev. Karen A. Calafat,
Annual Parish Meeting
January 26, 2020
My Annual Parish Report is going to focus on a few words from each of our readings and our Opening Collect. May the Holy Spirit open our hearts to hear and our minds to imagine.
“Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News….”
Did you hear that word “readily?”
We are to respond NOW… readily… Not someday when we have more people… Not someday when we have more money…. Not some day when we have time… NOW… readily…
Today I want to take a few minutes to reflect on the way St. Luke’s has “answered readily the call of Christ” in the past year and look forward to how we might have grace to answer God’s call in 2020.
Now I don’t think this is a parish that has ever “walked in darkness” or “lived in a land of deep darkness,” but you are a parish that has “seen a great light” and upon whom “light has shined.”
Yes, there have been glory days in the past when this place was packed to standing room only, when there was a thriving Day School that was the livelihood of the parish and an important center of the neighborhood. But even with the changes in numbers of people and fewer activities, the DARKNESS did NOT overcome you. You kept the faith and remained hopeful.
When you hear God’s call, you respond whole-heartedly. This past year, your Vestry sensed God’s call to VISIBILITY for the parish. Visibility was the lens through which decisions were made. Now some of these visibility opportunities were in place before 2019 and continue on with the purpose of letting our community know we are here.
The list of Outreach and Visibility Missions included:
Your presence in our community has undoubtedly increased its JOY and God’s! And hopefully your joy as well!
From Isaiah 9, the people rejoice before God “AS WITH JOY AT THE HARVEST”.
he harvest was a crucial time for the Jews, as it is for farmers around the world today. We hear about the devastating seasons where the harvest is lean or decimated by weather or government procedures. And we hear about great parties and celebrations when the harvest is plentiful. In some places the entire town shuts down to participate in the harvest, hosting celebrations, offering worship services, even having parades - all in rejoicing for the harvest!
I sense this is where God is calling us for 2020 –
“Rejoicing in and Sharing the Harvest”!
You already do this in so many ways, but I believe God is calling us still to “respond readily to the call of Jesus” in new and intentional ways.
I want to share a few definitions with you and see if you can guess the word. (If you have been in staff meetings or vestry meetings and know this already, you can’t answer!)
STEWARDSHIP is going to be our focus for 2020.
PLEASE DO NOT TUNE OUT just because of that word!
You are excellent stewards in many, many ways – you take great pride in this place and have taken care of it and managed it well. It is not inexpensive to have a building and property like the one for which we are stewards. In the past few years you have
Stewardship can be applied to our environment, nature, economics, health, property, information and theology.
The theological and spiritual aspects of STEWARDSHIP are where I hope we can grow in 2020. I have been remiss in addressing stewardship as a spiritual discipline and theological tenet. What I know is that when a need arises, you all have always dug deep and found a way to meet and even exceed the need. I have failed to be dutiful in keeping you informed about the day-to-day needs and budget balances or deficits. You will begin to see monthly updates of where we are financially.
The spiritual discipline of stewardship requires not only the giving of financial resources – money – but also of answering the hard questions: “Who are we as a parish?”
“Who is God calling us to be?”
“How are we being invited to grow?”
“What is our mission in the next year or three or five?”
How can we be good stewards of our property and resources “to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ”?
To say that our focus for 2020 is STEWARDSHIP is NOT to say that I am going to ask you for money every time we get together. Our focus is going to be on good stewardship of all our resources – goods, property, time, talent and yes, treasure.
According to Wayward Journey, Characteristics of Good Stewardship include:
So as you can see, we are good stewards. Are there ways we can be better stewards?
Yes, of course!
And how do we do that? Paul, in 1 Corinthians instructs, “be united in the same mind and the same purpose.”
Now, does that mean we all have to agree on everything?
Absolutely not! Any good Episcopalian knows that there is room for a variety of thoughts and beliefs around the Table. But if we are clear about our call and our purpose, we stand a better chance of being good stewards of all our resources.
This is why we are beginning a DISCERNMENT PROCESS that will help us be clear about our call and purpose. Each and every one of you will have an opportunity to participate in this process, rooted in prayer and guided by your fellow parishioners to help us discover “the call of Jesus for St. Luke’s now” and respond readily to opportunities to be the Good News. I sincerely hope all of you will say “yes” when the invitation to participate comes your way.
Those who followed Jesus – his first disciples – responded “immediately” to his call… the call “follow me”. The first two immediately dropped their nets and followed. The second two immediately got out of their boat and followed. There is a sense of urgency about responding to the call.
I sense that urgency for us -- that we, as a parish, are on the cusp of great things. I can’t explain it, but I believe as we deepen our spiritual stewardship and respond to Jesus’ ongoing invitation to follow him, we are going to experience the movement of the Holy Spirit in and through our lives. It is an exciting time!
I want to leave you with a challenge. We are not known for our scripture memorization or quoting chapter and verse, but I want to challenge us to memorize and pray as a faith family, Psalm 27:11b:
“Your face, Lord, will* I seek.” (some version say “do I seek”)
“Your face, O God, will I seek.”
“Your face, Jesus, will I seek.”
“Your face, Holy Spirit, I seek.”
Choose the Name for the Divine that works best for you. Use it each morning as you greet the day, knowing your siblings in Christ here at St. Luke’s are praying the same: “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Thank you for your time and attention! God bless you all! Amen.
Karen A. Calafat+
The 2019 annual parish meeting actually began during the 10 am worship service, when the Rev. Karen Calafat folded her rector's report into the sermon. Read the report here. She invited everyone to join her in envisioning a drama, showing a Playbill proclaiming St. Luke's in the Meadow Proudly Presents 2019-Year in Review.
Inside, gratitude was expressed to our audience, "the Holy Trinity, our Loving, Liberating, Life-Giving God." She covered "worship by the numbers": Sixty-eight Eucharists, 12 Taize services, 10 funerals, three Quiet Days, two weddings, two baptisms, one bishop visitation and the 70th Anniversary observance.
The ASA (Average Sunday Attendance) was 50, a number that is almost meaningless when placed in the context of the huge impact this parish has on its East Side neighborhood and its city.
-The playbill included listings for the Cast, including the choir, acolytes, and readers. The Crew was the Altar Guild and its four teams, the ushers, the Flower Guild and the nursery staff. Technical Support included the vestry, treasurer, treasurer's apprentice, ministry fund manager, office assistants, office manager/bookkeeper, nursery care, sexton, ministry intern, organist/choir director, rector, and bishop. Like all great productions, a huge amount of work goes on in the background to make St. Luke's Sunday worship as seamlessly lovely as possible week after week.
Longtime Treasurer Jay Andrews was given a standing ovation in recognition of his decades of devoted service to the parish, guiding it through thick and sometimes very thin financial times.
After worship, the congregation gathered in the parish hall for a sumptuous lunch and cake. Every table had copies of the Playbill. The actual meeting began with a prayer. New vestry members Donnell Guyon and DAun Harner-Weeks were elected by acclamation, as were delegates to diocesan convention: (L-R in photo) Brenda Hathaway, Patti Callahan, Marsha McClean and William Ledbetter, with Elizabeth Edwards as alternate. See Vestry members here.
Ledbetter is the new senior warden.
Reports from the Senior and Junior Wardens, the financial, music, Altar Guild, Flower Guild, and acolyte reports were made available in printed copies placed on all the tables. Patti Callahan was recognized for her five years of service as senior warden, and the parish bid farewell to 40-plus-year-member Dave Dillingham, who is moving to Chicago to be with family. The creation of the Connie Wood Endowment was announced, the result of a generous bequest from the late Connie Wood, a member of St. Luke's for many years. Connie died in 2017.
Another event worthy of note was that, at the vestry meeting with Bishop Scott Mayer following the 70th Anniversary Celebration in October, the bishop recommended that Calafat be named rector after serving as priest in charge for nearly five years. It was a measure of the financially sound status of the parish, he said, the result of hard work and good leadership by clergy, wardens, and the vestry.
One measure of the changes in the parish is that when Calafat arrived, the building was being used on Sundays and part of one other day. Now something is going on the building every day of the week, from worship services of the Seventh Day Adventists to Cooking Matters put on by 4Saints Episcopal Food Pantry and the Tarrant Area Food Bank to Living Room Conversations to meetings of a Girl Scout troop and the White Lake Hills Neighborhood Association. The congregation also was reminded that they offer office space to the bishop and the diocesan staff as well as well as providing meeting space for many diocesan committees and commissions.
Then came the stories of the $10 bills. On December 16, 2018, the Rev. Linda Taylor had preached. As part of her sermon, she handed out $10 bills to everyone in the church. The only rules were they had to be spent, hopefully in a way that helped advance God's love here on earth. And parishioners responded. They told of helping homeless people, of tipping a maid in a hotel, of helping the abandoned animals of the Humane Society, pooling funds to make a donation to the Autism Center, and putting it with other funds to buy a goat for a family in Africa through Gifts for Life. It was, in so many ways, a very typically wonderful St. Luke response.