Church of Our Saviour

21 Marathon Street | Arlington, Massachusetts | 781-648-5962

Reflections of Your Rector

Before I arrived, you, the people of Church of Our Saviour, wondered how to open our doors wider to the community. You were talking about intentional growth. And you wanted to minister to children in our neighborhood, for example by providing meals when school was not in session.

These conversations reflect long-time values of our parish. Church of Our Saviour began a hundred years ago as a mission church, serving a neighborhood with many new immigrants. Ministry to children also has been a reoccurring emphasis throughout our history. Indeed the stained glass window over the high altar depicts Jesus blessing children.

Thriving churches pay attention to who their neighbors are, and look for ways to minister with them. The neighborhood around our church is currently filled with families with young children. Many of these little ones have not yet been introduced to a faith community … and indeed, many of their parents grew up without religion. Church of Our Saviour has long recognized that our mission field is right here, in our own neighborhood. We have
the opportunity to introduce progressive, life-giving Good News to two new generations of Christians, simultaneously.

For several months, your vestry and I have been thinking about the next chapter in the life of our parish. We are intrigued by the vision of growing two generations of Christians—intentionally welcoming young children, their older siblings, their parents, and other adults … AND helping people of ALL ages go deeper in faith. How do we help welcome and form two generations of Christians? Your vestry has been thinking through a number of initiatives which we could carry out over the next three years. They fall under the categories of ways to welcome, and ways to help ALL of us deepen our faith.

First, let’s talk about ways we might help newcomers and long time Episcopalians grow in faith.

We imagine developing a once-a-month worship service for 0-3 year olds and their families. Imagine a circle of children sitting on their parents laps. Imagine a short service including singing, movement, simple bible stories and a chance to receive Communion. Imagine a place where toddlers could be themselves, and where parents didn’t worry about getting active children to sit quietly.

For our 4-13 year olds, we are starting a new curriculum for our Church School! “Weaving God’s Promises” is a highly regarded Episcopal curriculum designed for a one-room schoolhouse. It offers both structure and space for creativity. Each lesson includes background information, so our teachers can nourish their own faith as well.

We are also pleased to start a new adult-education class entitled “Meet, Eat and Learn” that will begin October 21. We encourage high school students, as well as adults to take part. Using the Rev. John de Beer’s “Connect?” curriculum, plus 2 supplemental sessions I designed, this class meets for 8 Sundays, right after church. It’s a great way for people to get to know each other while learning more about the Episcopal Church. Malia has used this curriculum for
several years, and has found it is compelling for folks new to faith, as well as long-time Episcopalians.

We hope that within the next three years, our ministry to children will grow enough that we can offer two separate church school classes: one for younger children, and one for older children. We also hope to begin staffing a nursery during the 10am service, so parents of young children can be nourished by the Eucharist and attend to their own spiritual needs, while experiencing a rare hour of quiet.

As we expand our programs to deepen our faith, we also need to work on deepening our welcome.

We currently have a lovely space for our church school. If we want to offer a nursery and a second Sunday School class, we will need to create other welcoming spaces in our parish. Our parishioners have made the outside of our church more welcoming this summer by cleaning up the front and side gardens. Thank you! This year, we would love to repair the damage to our stucco, both inside and outside the church. This would enable us to give our
church a fresh paint job, as well as making the former nursery usable again.

In the meantime, the Rev. Sue Fisher Seeger will be working with lay leaders to strengthen our newcomers’ ministry. We are also trying to help people learn about our parish by publicizing our upcoming events at Town Day, and by processing down Mass Ave. for the Feast of St. Francis.

Immediately after church on Sunday, September 16, your vestry and I will be offering the parish an opportunity to talk more about this vision. We are interested in getting your feedback and suggestions. There will be a second conversation after church on Sunday October 14 to delve deeper into the details. We hope you will be part of these conversations as we write the next chapter of our life together.

Yours in Christ,

Malia

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