Rector's Annual Address

The Rector’s Report
to the Annual Meeting of
Christ Church Glendale
February 3, 2019

From the third chapter of the Book of Lamentations
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is thy faithfulness.

These words, familiar to many from a famous hymn sung predominately in more
Protestant congregations, speak of two of God’s unquestionable character traits,
‘steadfast’ ‘faithfulness’. The concept of God’s steadfast faithfulness undergirds the
Hebrew scriptures of the Old Testament, and takes on flesh and blood in the person
of Jesus Christ in the New.

They are words that characterize the life and witness of this congregation as well;
that does not make us unique. Every Christian community should be a place of
steadfast faithfulness. They are, however, words that well describe the community of
Christians who live, work, and have our being, at least in part, at the corner of Forest
Avenue and Sharon Road in Glendale.

In 2018, as it has for every year since its founding, Christ Church Glendale was place
where the gospel virtues and values of healing, restoration, freedom, and hope found
life in and through the work and witness of so many people. Many here today are
included in that number, but there are others who are not here of whom it is true as
well. Our ministry partners in the Interfaith Hospitality Network, Habitat for
Humanity volunteers from across the Hope Coalition congregations, presenters in the
Aging with Grace series, musicians in the Music Live with Lunch concerts, to name
but a few, have all found the CCG community a setting where their steadfast
faithfulness was used by God to make the kingdom more vividly present and real.
In my remarks last year, I used the four points of the parish mission statement—
outreach to all, passionate worship, community nurture, and spiritual growth as the
organizing principle. While I am not going to do the same thing today, these focal
points for ministry have guided much of what happened here in 2018, and have been
seeds for my own reflection and prayer. As with all seeds, some have borne greater
fruit, and some lesser, but the overall harvest has been a gratifying reminder of God’s
steadfast faithfulness to us.

The addition of a second priest to the staff on a full-time basis in June was certainly
one of the most visible and exciting events in our common life. I am very grateful to
Fr. Nick Evancho for his companionship in sharing priestly ministry here, for his
generosity of spirit, grace, and humor, and for his willingness to deploy his
considerable skills in several areas all the while developing new ones in many different
aspects of parish ministry. In this he is wonderfully supported by his wife, Ashley,
who is co-teaching our youth confirmation class. Their marriage last summer was and
is another reminder of the power of God’s steadfast faithfulness.
In addition to Nick, I give thanks for my colleagues on the parish staff, for Karen
Corbett, Bryan Mock, and Katie Janssens, all of whom, though paid for their efforts,
are true servants of the Gospel through the work they do in administration, music,
worship, and hospitality. I give thanks also for Joanne Spencer, our excellent
housekeeper, provided through Janiking. She does an amazing job, along with the
members of the Buildings and Grounds Commission, in keeping our buildings and
campus in really good shape.

And I would be remiss if I did not recognize with gratitude Deacon Anne Reed who
is another sign to us of what it means to ‘walk the talk’ in terms of service to the least
among us, and an example of servant leadership for all.
Let me also offer one more note of thanks, this one to my family, especially to Emily
and Edward, whose daily support and companionship are primary signs of God’s
deep and abiding presence in my life.

These may all sound like perfunctory expressions of gratitude, but they are truly
heartfelt. Each of these people, each in their own way, remind me of the privilege
and joy that comes from living and working in a community of people centered not
on self-interest or profit margin, but rather on the well-being of others, on the
primacy of love—in other words, living expressions of what it means to be steadfast
in faithfulness.

That sense is extended to the lay leaders in this congregation, to those who are (or
who have just been) elected to various positions, and to those who serve in lots of
ways on commissions and in ministries as diverse as the altar guild and the acolytes, at
one end of the alphabet, all the way to the youth group’s members and leaders—a
span that takes us almost from A to Z. The ministry of many is visible and audible,
but the ministry of many others is carried on out of sight, and in relative silence. All
of it, however, is known to God, and all of it is of equal importance as we seek to be
the Body of Christ in the truest sense of that image.
Just as the mercies of God never end, and are new every morning, so we are always
called to look to the morning, to the new day, to the future, assured of nothing but
God steadfast faithfulness. What do we see on the horizon? Let me offer a couple of

This summer will see the return of Vacation Bible School for our community, and
another trip to the United Kingdom for the adult choir. Both initiatives require lots
of advanced planning, and lots of participants willing to work in myriad ways. The
members of the Education Commission are already laying the groundwork for VBS,
but when the time comes, it will require the creativity and support of many to make it
happen. Rumor has it that Sue McKeller, our international ace in the hole, is planning
to participate, but no one person can make such an undertaking happen singlehandidly, no matter from however far they come. So, don’t say you weren’t forewarned!

The choir is already hard at work getting ready for its residency at Winchester
Cathedral, one of England’s most splendid and historic buildings, with a bonus one evensong appearance at Westminster Abbey, which is surely one of the most famous
churches in the whole world. We should all be proud of and grateful to our choristers
of all ages, and their patient leader, for their steadfast faithfulness in leading us in
singing the praises of God.

On less global and exotic, but nonetheless critical fronts, there is much to be done in
2019. IHN weeks are scheduled through the balance of the year, and new outreach
collaborations with the parish communities in Wyoming and Lincoln Heights are
being explored. Our most recent Habitat for Humanity house in lower Price Hill will
be dedicated and ready for occupancy in the next few weeks. Grass roots efforts to
assist migrant families living in nearby areas will require continued support.
Formation programs for both young people and adults are preparing candidates for
confirmation at a diocesan event in the late spring. All of this is wonderful.
However, some of our current ministries are stretching us beyond our apparent band
width. As an example, too many Sundays we have no one signed up to host one, two,
or even (sometimes) all three coffee hours. Special social events to which we look
forward are falling increasingly on the shoulders of a diminishing number of
volunteers. This is not a situation we can sustain much longer. Decisions need to be
made about what we want our common life to be.

Steadfast faithfulness does not require us to keep doing the same things over and over
again, no matter what. Steadfast faithfulness does not prohibit acknowledging that
the life span of an activity or event is over. Steadfast faithfulness does not mean that
bigger and more is always better, and that, conversely, smaller and less is never okay.
I believe we have too many commissions, at times thinning our resources and diluting
our energy and effectiveness. As Loring Leitzel, our outgoing Youth Vestry member
very wisely said in a conversation on this topic, ‘Growing up on a tree farm, I learned
that sometimes you have to prune a tree if you want it to grow.’ Wise words, indeed.
Structure for structure’s sake is not a great theological concept. However, effective
ministry requires suitable structure to succeed. At its upcoming retreat, the new
Vestry will be looking at CCG’s points of contact with the wider community, and at
what kind of structure best undergirds them.

By this I mean asking where and when does what we do connect with those who are
not already here. What are the things that draw people here, and what possible points
of connection are we not seeing that maybe we need to? Such discernment requires
creativity and a willingness to ask sometimes hard questions, even about assumptions
that have long been held.

2019 will not, I expect, be a big year in terms of staffing developments. As you have
already heard in the Treasurer’s report, we are currently able to afford a Curate
because of money not spent on staffing in previous years. By definition, and even by
design, that money will not last forever, and by mid-2020, we will have to ask
ourselves again about the best ways to allocate our staffing dollars. What do we want?
What do we need? What can we support? Such questions are never far from my
mind, but, thankfully, they are not a principal point of focus for us in this new year.

As you have already heard, 2018 saw the loss of several sizeable pledges to death, and
while new pledges were made, symbolizing new buds on the CCG vine, the overall
impact on the financial support for our basic ministries is one about which we must
be realistic. Once again, creativity, and the willingness to ask sometimes hard
questions, will be required of the parish leadership in 2019. And that is all part of the
steadfast faithfulness to which we are always being called. So, again I say, welcome
newly elected Vestry members.

2019 has gotten off to a rather snowy, and recently frigid, start. However, winter will
not last forever, and in exactly 20 days, the revamped Reds will play their first game of
spring training. Encouraged by that knowledge, but more importantly by what I see
day in and day out in this place, I have every confidence that by working together,
saying our prayers, and continuing to look to find the grace and good humor with
which God showers us, we will join, at least in spirit, in the slightly amended words of
the well-worn hymn,

Morning by morning new mercies we see,
All we have needed Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, to all CCG!

May God continue to bless us with the Creator’s grace. May God fill our hearts with
the peace of Christ that passes all understanding. And may God plant within each of
us a measure of the Spirit’s steadfast faithfulness, all of which were in the beginning,
are now, and shall be forever.

Thank you.

Respectfully submitted,
The Reverend David A. Pfaff
February 3, 2019