Our vision: “An enduring beacon drawing all to Jesus Christ.”

Our Mission: To be a Christ-centered family connecting with seekers and followers of Jesus; providing a loving, encouraging, and challenging environment so that all may know and grow in relationship with Christ and make Him known.

Lowest Church Health Characteristic: Holistic Small Groups

In 2012 we focussed on the Vision of the parish and celebrated how that vision has guided us through 175 years of our history. In 2012 we will shift our emphasis from the Vision to the Mission of the parish.

We will continue to focus in on where we most need to grow during the year to become a healthier church, bearing more fruit for God’s kingdom in this place. Once again, this year, our weakest characteristic is Holistic Small Groups: our people are not experiencing the presence, guidance or power of God in gatherings of groups within the body of Christ. Jesus promised to be with his disciples whenever two or three gather in his name but, outside of personal devotions and congregational worship, St. Thomas’ parishioners have not been experiencing Jesus’ presence when groups in the parish gather for work or fellowship.

Last year, our 3 main areas of attention were: the parish, the family and the individual. This year, they will be slightly adjusted to: the parish, the group and the individual. While continuing our work on building up individuals, and working on congregational worship and ministry, we will be highlighting the importance of our people growing with other believers, in the way we study, pray and go about our mission work. The term ‘group’ includes families, prayer gatherings, missional communities, ministry committees, in fact, any gathering of members of St. Thomas’ Parish. We want every group to be intentional about living out the Mission statement of our parish.

Our goal is, that by the this time next year, the majority of our regular worshippers will be able to say, “I have felt part of a loving, encouraging and challenging group environment in this parish, where I have felt myself grow in my knowledge and love of Jesus Christ.” That is our challenge for 2012 and below is the work plan we have devised to try to meet our challenge and accomplish our goal during the next twelve months.

  1. 1.       COMMON PRAYER IS THE BASIS OF COMMON LIFE: Individuals praying together regularly.

We begin by encouraging all our parishioners to develop their own regular routine of daily prayer and Bible reading. There are excellent systems for morning and evening prayer laid out in both the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Alternative Services. We intend to offer simple courses in how to pray with these books during Lent. There are also daily devotionals available. Please speak to one of the clergy or come to one of the groups that are being offered for your benefit this year. We also encourage everyone to consider a Rule of Life (see BCP p. 555) or, make some changes to it, based on the present realities of your life. 

We also ask you all to use the following prayer either at the beginning or at the end of every group gathering of St. Thomas’ members. Plug the name of your group in blank. We would also hope that you would use it in your own personal prayers, as you pray for other groups in the parish.

Parish Prayer 2012 (based on our parish mission statement)

Heavenly Father, we want our parish to be a Christ-centered family. Send Your Holy Spirit to help us to connect with seekers and followers of Your Son. Show us how to be people who can love, encourage and challenge one another. Bless the groups of this parish (especially our ________________), so that together we may know and grow in our relationship with Jesus. We want to experience Your power in the life we share in our parish, and glorify You in our city; for His name’s sake. Amen.

  1. 2.       COMMON EXPERIENCES IS THE SUPPORT OF A COMMON LIFE: Special gatherings during the year.

We plan to give our people every opportunity we are capable of offering to experience the presence, power and guidance of God in their own lives. The groups/courses we have already planned are:

Month Parish Gatherings (4th Sunday),  Exercise Groups “Body & Spirit”, “Space for God” art classes (6 weeks), Contemplative Prayer Group – Young residence (1st and 3rd Thursday of each month), The Parenting Teenagers Course (5 weeks), Reading Scripture with Understanding (2 weeks), Faith Journey – Looking at how old (like John Bunyan) and new authors (like Kathleen Norris) can help us walk with God. Pilgrim’s Progress: Part I (5 weeks), Alpha @ Liz Gesch’s Place – Jamie Haith (7 weeks) date TBA, The Parenting Children Course (5 weeks) – tentative based on finding leader, March-April – Prayer Ministry Training Course (3 weeks) date TBA, The Marriage Course (7 weeks), The Marriage Preparation Course (5 weeks), June – possible additional alternative weekend Marriage Prep Course, Sept – Alpha @ Margaret Eastman’s Place – date TBA, October- Alpha (7 weeks) with Jamie Haith – possibly in coffee shop or restaurant, Wednesday Morning “Followers of Jesus” (Spiritual Disciplines Companion) weekly, Young Group (Spiritual Disciplines Companion) bi-weekly, Youth Group bi-weekly (until Gail returns, then weekly), Monday Evening Meditative Prayer (9 weeks) offered 3x during the year, Overnight Retreats “Living the Scriptures” offered 3x during the year @ Conception Harbour (12 retreatants max.). Work with Vestry and Inner Core to keep Vision clear.

  1. 3.       COMMON MISSION IS THE FRUIT OF A COMMON LIFE: Regular groups becoming more intentional.

St. Paul explained why there are orders and structures in the Church: Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

We will continue to work with individual leaders in their discernment and growth in capacity to serve God in their own life mission. We plan to work at making our groups more functional as small groups, where members can share a common mission appropriate to the purpose of their own particular group. We want every group in our parish to be engaged in works of service that build up the body and draw us into a deeper unity with one another in Christ. When Christians pray and work together they will discover the blessings of a common life and be strengthened in their own individual walks with the Lord.

We will be working with all groups at St. Thomas’ trying to help them discern what special works of service God is calling them to, so that together we can attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ in this parish. We believe that then our people will experience themselves empowered by their common life and work in the church. We think this will go a long way towards dealing with our weakest characteristic from our last NCD Survey (June 2011): Holistic Small Groups.

Make 2012 the year our parishioners share their faith lives in supportive groups, so that they experience one another as people who love, encourage and challenge them to grow in their life as disciples of Jesus Christ.