New Ministries: A letter sent to the Vestry and Mission Directors

As a matter of advice and rejoicing I wanted you, the Vestry, and all Staff members to be aware of two new ministries that we will/are launching this Fall with training and organizing done in August. It has long been my hope to increase the prayerful outreach of St. Anna’s beyond Social Justice mandates found in the scripture to include the prayer life equally mandated in the Gospels. To that end we will be introducing:

Lay Eucharistic Home Visitors. These persons will receive the sacraments on Sunday and journey out to the home bound and those unable to attend church. It is, in fact, an extension of the mass of the day. Each of these persons will be licensed by the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, will be trained using as a primary text, “Lay Eucharistic Visitors.” The convener of this ministry will be Deacon Joyce Jackson. LEHVs will be sent out in pairs. It is my home that some of you will consider this very important ministry. At the current time those who have committed to this ministry include: Mr. Don Dubay, Deacon Joyce Jackson, and Mr. Luigi Mandile. If you believe that you have a call please contact me, Fr. Terry.

Chaplains: One of the observations that Jenny Dawkins had of St. Anna’s and one that we have recognized for sometime is a disconnect between the Sunday worshiping community and the Social Justice Ministries S.A.M.M., Anna’s Arts, and Oportunidades perhaps even The Food Pantry. If we are what we say we are we should engage in prayer and perhaps prayer can be the corner stone of a new bridge that draws these several communities together. To this end we are developing a Community of Chaplains. We intend to place a Chaplain imbedded into each of the aforementioned ministries as volunteer time will permit. A Chaplain need not be “a religious” or “ordained” BUT must be trained. The essential nature of a chaplain is to listen and to show compassion and finally to pray. To that end this group is now forming. At this point they are Deacon Joyce Jackson assigned to S.A.M.M., Mr. Michael Hobbs (chaplain apprentice), Ms. Carla Paul assigned to S.A.M.M., and Becky Thompson assigned to Oportunidades. We are still seeking a chaplain to Anna’s Arts (interestingly that job will be more about offering spiritual support to Staff and children’s parents than to the kids themselves). Again, training a formal support group will be formed. They will be added to the rota of the Prayers of the People.

Adjunct to Chaplains: In addition to Chaplaincies a prayer request box will be placed and located conveniently in a space appropriate to each of the aforementioned missions. We will distribute these prayer requests each week to members of the congregation who will agree to pray for them that week with special intention. That will become part of our service, and no I have not completely worked out how that will look on Sundays but we will do it with grace and special intention… I believe that in doing such our entire congregation will become more aware of our Lord’s demand that we pray often.

I want to share just a bit of a recent note that I sent to one of the Chaplains:

I am so excited about our chaplain’s ministry. I must tell you that on many days it may not seem fulfilling it will be boring with nothing much to do (activity). Other days it will touch and transform you and remember you are a Chaplain to everyone, staff and patients/students. The key of being a good chaplain is to emulate how our Lord works with us today….he listens….he listens with patience…he listens with compassion…he is totally present to our every murmur gesture and word. So, first being a good chaplain is about presence, persistence, and listening. I know that you are a prayer warrior and for that we are very blessed, St. Anna’s needs more. Next, you have fallen in with an eclectic maybe even an eccentric group who share one thing in common the belief in the power of prayer and the power of our Lord. Of all the ministries at St. Anna’s this is one that is a spiritual force to be reckoned with (in a good way).

God Bless us one and all, and remember, we Vestry members agreed to pray with special intention for the future ministries of St. Anna’s Church.

As the scripture says, “Pray. Pray without ceasing.”