Who We Are Becoming by the Rev. Dr. Christopher D. Girata
More than three years ago, I began having conversations with parish leaders about Saint Michael’s upcoming 75th Anniversary. A big anniversary celebration takes a lot of planning, and I knew we had a lot to celebrate. We imagined what we could do, who we could invite, and how we could move into the future …and then the pandemic hit.
What had been intended to launch in August 2020 was bumped a year, but as the pandemic labored on, we began to worry if we’d have the capacity to launch in August 2021. Thankfully, even though the pandemic was far from over, we forged ahead with our celebration. And what a wonderful year of celebrating it has been! We were able to honor our past while planning for our future. Let’s start with the celebrations that reflect who we have been.
Throughout the year, we were blessed by visits from those who have been a big part of our history. Two former rectors, Mark Anschutz and Bob Dannals, headlined our guest series. We welcomed back nearly twenty priests who have been connected to Saint Michael through the years and it was a privilege to be with them. We also welcomed the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, on Palm Sunday—a most exciting celebration!
In addition to our guests, we created a beautiful coffee table book that highlights much of our history in gorgeous images. My hope is that this book would be more than an archival piece. I wanted this book to be used! To that end, the center section of the book features prayers written by dozens of priests who serve or have served our parish. These prayers are a resource to you as you walk through life, including prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of grief, and prayers of celebration.
We also brought back the parish show with huge enthusiasm! Michael, A Musical drew more than 1,300 people who enjoyed watching 100+ parishioners and friends, on and behind stage, tell the story of our first 75 years. It had been more than 30 years since our last parish show, so putting on a musical was a fantastic way to honor our past and celebrate our future. As a member of the cast, I can say that this was one of those amazing experiences that reminds me just how grateful I am to be part of the Saint Michael family. If you missed it, never fear! We created a video for archival purposes and will have at least one viewing at the church, so stay tuned for details to see the show.
As I look back on our anniversary year, we can be proud of who we are and what we’ve done. A special thank you to Harriet Cousins and Kelly Compton, along with our 75th Anniversary Committee and so many others, who have made the year such a pleasure!
An anniversary is a special time to look back, but we are using our anniversary to look forward, too. One of the hallmarks of our church is our generosity. In big and small ways, Saint Michael is a generous community that looks to share love and provide support for our neighbors. In recognition of our 75th year, looking for new ways to engage in the community was very fitting. I’m grateful to multiple committees and teams—led by Mary Jalonick, Phil Ritter, and Margaret Spellings—who vetted ideas and workshopped options to come to a very clear direction: “Feeding the Family.” This theme is rooted in Christ’s admonition to Peter and his Church to “feed my sheep” in John 21:15. In the context of the 75th Anniversary, we consider the “family” to include singular families, the Saint Michael congregation, and the wider Dallas community. In so many ways, the needs of our families, the parish family, and our community are one and the same.
After faithful discernment, we are very excited about the three projects that will take us into the new year with new energy. Our partners include two agencies that have deep ties to Saint Michael and a new partner in a neighborhood very near the church. Jubilee Park and Community Center, St. Philip’s School and Community Center, and Bachman Lake Together will partner with Saint Michael to pilot three new programs. With grants from the All Angels Foundation Angels Foundation (formerly Saint Michael and All Angels Foundation), seed money for these new programs will help us work with people in each community, engaging our parishioners in additional community service.
This is important for you because next year will be a year of action. We are called to come together in faith and take steps to act with purpose in the world. That action will look like many different things. Sometimes action will look like outreach to neighbors in need. Sometimes action will look like inviting and welcoming people into our church. Other times, action will be holding one another accountable for habits and behaviors that are best for us. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Faith takes action, and it’s time to take a big step forward together.
This past year has been a pleasure and privilege as we look back. Now, it’s time we pivot forward as we become the church we are called to be in the future. Our journey forward will take courage, conviction, and commitment, but we have everything we need. We know that Jesus is with us, giving us strength for all that we hope to do and who we hope to become. Together, we can move confidently into a future that is bright and hopeful, and as we do, spread the Good News to all we meet.
**This article was written by the Rev. Christopher D. Girata and was featured in the 2022 Summer Archangel.
We are people who live very busy lives. And while we might sigh heavily as we tell people how busy we are, we often wear our busyness like a badge of honor. We determine how well we’re ‘doing’ life by the fullness of our calendar; by the number of experiences we’ve lined up; by the number of nights we’re not home without plans. And the world around us seems determined to affirm that value system. We are regularly reminded of the need to check in with others on social media, of the new hobbies and skills we should be developing, of baseline acquisitions necessary for a happier life. For those that may not be aware of this significant ministry, Saint Michael is an active partner in the Meals on Wheels (MOW) delivery program here in Dallas which is operated by VNA, the Visiting Nurses Association. I’d like to share a bit about MOW, and what it can do for those in need—but also what it can do for you.
Other Articles In This Issue...
Stillness, Silence and Solitude by the Rev. Mary Lessmann
507A by David Boldrick
We are people who live very busy lives. And while we might sigh heavily as we tell people how busy we are, we often wear our busyness like a badge of honor. We determine how well we’re ‘doing’ life by the fullness of our calendar; by the number of experiences we’ve lined up; by the number of nights we’re not home without plans. And the world around us seems determined to affirm that value system. We are regularly reminded of the need to check in with others on social media, of the new hobbies and skills we should be developing, of baseline acquisitions necessary for a happier life.
For those that may not be aware of this significant ministry, Saint Michael is an active partner in the Meals on Wheels (MOW) delivery program here in Dallas which is operated by VNA, the Visiting Nurses Association. I’d like to share a bit about MOW, and what it can do for those in need—but also what it can do for you.