Letter to the Editor
Published 3:12 pm Friday, December 7, 2007
St. Anna's to host Diocesan small church conference
Congregants from small churches throughout the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast will gather at St. Anna's Episcopal Church in Poarch on Dec. 8 from 9:20 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. for a one-day small church conference. The theme of this year's conference is "Growing God's Kingdom through the Small-Membership Church."
The Rev. Suzanne Watson, Head of the Small Church Desk at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, will be the conference leader. She will address small church demographics as well as focusing on scriptures.
In addition, as a staff member on the congregational development team at the Episcopal Church Center, she works with congregations with an average Sunday attendance of fewer than 70 people. The circumstances and issues facing these churches vary greatly and include recent church plants that are growing, churches that are stable and small, and churches that hold memories of being much larger, but have declined. The settings of these congregations also vary greatly, from rural to suburban to urban, each presenting different opportunities and challenges for the small church.
Prior to moving to New York, she served as a priest at St. Francis Co-operating Parish in Hamilton, New Zealand, a multi-denominational parish formed when three congregations (Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist) merged while simultaneously clustering with two other rural parishes.
Billed as a small church conference, St. Anna's parishioners are busy with final preparations which include welcoming refreshments and lunch. They are proud to host this one-day gathering of Episcopal congregants from small congregations. A day of Christian fun and fellowship is planned in celebrating the "Year of the Small Church."
Lee "Lavan" Martin