The follow are excerpts from Father Owens' thoughts he shared at the 2014 Annual Meeting on January 20th:
My friends, where God guides, He provides - and in this season God is clearly providing a bountiful catch of churched and formerly churched folks. That tells me that God is guiding us to stay in these waters, that it's not yet time to switch our nets so as to focus intently on a broader spectrum. God, not me, is captaining our voyage; and, while our many blessings in 2013 indicate that we are to stay the present course, I do believe that our rigging could use some refining so as to make our efforts even more God-honoring in 2014. Thus you might anticipate the following initiatives during the year ahead.
I. By God's grace, we are rapidly growing congregation - in fact twelve new families have already joined us in the first three weeks of this year. Our average weekend worship attendance thus far this year is 1077 - for all of last year the average was 951. By far our CrossPoint service on the Cross Schools Campus is the fastest growing of our worship offerings - we're now regularly having to add rows of folding chairs to our four hundred padded seats because the number of attendees pushes five hundred; and on many Sundays we run out of parking spaces and have to resort to parking cars along the Buckwalter Parkway right-of-way. A two-fold solution is needed. In the near term, I will be working with our staff and ministry leaders to plan and initiate a second Sunday morning service on this campus as soon as is feasible. In the long term, I see us partnering with Cross Schools to double the size of this facility and add additional parking. How will we accomplish this? Where God guides, He provides!
II. By God's grace, we are a multi-generational congregation with an average age of 44 and the 222 new members who joined us last year helped that average to continue its downward trajectory. We have 229 children age ten and younger in our midst and yet our programming last year was heavily skewed toward older empty nesters. While such programming is important, it's not sufficient to meet the needs of all in our family. In the coming months an administrative assistant will be added to our staff and with that addition will come a reorganization that will propel a rapid expansion of programming targeted to better disciple and nurture the parents and children who will one day take our places as salt and light in this fallen world. How will we accomplish this? Where God guides, He provides!
III. By God's grace, a third priest will be joining us this summer, not to lighten the load on Jonathan and me but to make it possible for us to further broaden the scope of our ministries. In preparation for this addition, planning is now underway to quickly begin work on Phase I of the Seven Oaks Project. Completion of this will allow the relocation of those staff members now serving in the Ministry Center and thus permit that structure to be restored to its original clergy housing purpose. How will we accomplish this? Where God guides, He provides!
IV. The presence this evening of clergy and parish leaders from the Diocese of KIlmore, Elphin and Ardagh is a testament to our years of fostering leadership development in the Church of Ireland. Present last year but absent tonight is Father Greg McMullin; as I speak Greg and his leaders in the parish of St. Mary and St. Bartholomew in St. John, Canada, are praying for us - they're our ministry partners as well (click here to read Greg's thoughts on 2013). These mission initiatives are bearing great fruit as is our partnership with Bishop Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina in supporting missionary initiatives in Africa, China and India. And, of course, Cross Schools continues to be our major tool for bringing tomorrow's home and business leaders into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. But we can do more and the fact that the Lord has blessed the vision that became a reality in God's Goods tells me that we must do more. We need to make the light of Christ blindingly visible locally on a scale not previously considered possible; and, too, we need to respond to the invitation of our friend Bishop Ken Clarke to partner with the South American Missionary Society in Bolivia. As such initiatives multiply, I envision the need for a permanent home, a centralized launching pad if you will, for our missionary initiatives near and far. How will we accomplish this? Where God guides, He provides!
There's no limit to what God can do through us if we'll be faithful to let Him continue His work in us. Some might say that such an agenda borders on the miraculous - I think not! My brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ is alive; and through the power of the Holy Spirit, He is working miracles today - even greater miracles than He did two thousand years ago . . . miracles He promised we would see. (John 14:12) Let us gaze in awestruck wonder at what He did in 2013 (click here to read the parish's annual report for last year) and open our eyes in faithful anticipation to behold what He will be doing in 2014. For as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever . . . where God guides, He provides!
In His service and for His glory,