Sunday, January 22, 2012

"WARNING: THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!" - a sermon for the annual meeting of Christ Church Cathedral

Preached by the Very Rev. Michael Kinman at Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday, January 22, 2012
The annual meeting of the 193rd year of Christ Church Cathedral is now called to order.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.


You can’t turn around today without seeing a warning label. If it can possibly have an effect that is going to bother someone, you can bet somebody has stuck a warning label on it.

Some of them are obvious. The pack of cigarettes that says: Warning, may cause cancer. Or even on your McDonald’s coffee – Warning: The contents of this container are extremely hot.

And then there are those that really make you scratch your head:

Take the bottle of Nytol sleeping pills that says “Warning: May cause drowsiness.” Really?

Or what about the cardboard sunshield that keeps the sun off the dashboard of your parked car that says “Warning: Do not drive with sunshield in place.”

And then there’s my personal favorite, the tag on the curling iron that says, “Warning: for external use only.”

We are told to beware of everything from peanut M&Ms to Happy Fun Ball. It seems like only the most innocuous thing could get away without having a warning label on it.

And maybe that’s the problem. Because the one place you can come and be free from warning labels … is the church. Look around the church and there is not a warning label to be found. By the world’s litigious logic, you would think that there is nothing about this place, nothing about this community that could possibly upset or harm or even change anything. And maybe that’s why it’s easy for us to think that the church is a place where we are supposed to be comfortable, where nothing is supposed to upset us and where nothing is supposed to change. Even the word we use to describe this space – sanctuary – speaks that message.

But that’s not the church of Jesus Christ. That’s not the beloved community of discipleship we hear about in this morning’s Gospel. That is not the beloved community of discipleship at Christ Church Cathedral.

If anyone ever should have had a warning label on him, it was Jesus. Jesus, walking along that shore of the Sea of Galilee should have been wearing a great big sandwich board that said “Warning: I will change everything.” Because that’s what Jesus did … and that’s what Jesus does.

It only took one sentence from Jesus to change everything for Peter and Andrew: “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” One sentence and everything changed. And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Same with James and John. A word. A phrase. A sentence. Follow me. And they left everything and everyone behind.

If we knew what we were doing, we would put big signs on our front doors, stickers on every Bible and prayer book and a big ol’ neon sign on the reredos.

Warning: This Changes Everything.

But you don’t need me to tell you this. We have seen it. We have seen what can happen when individuals and faith communities let the Gospel take root in their lives.

It changes everything.

Paul Farmer was just another undergrad at Duke in March 1980 when Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated. He went to a small prayer vigil on campus and Jesus changed everything. Because that night for the first time he realized that following Jesus meant siding with the poor, speaking out on behalf of the poor, even ending poverty itself.

And so when Paul went to Haiti years later while studying infectious diseases at Harvard and saw the incredible poverty there, he knew as a follower of Jesus he could not just let things stay the same. He could not just settle into private practice or academia and make a good living for himself. If he was to follow Jesus, things had to change. He had to promote the radical notion that there should be one excellent standard of health care for all people ... not one standard for the wealthy and a lesser standard for the poor. And so he began an organization called Partners in Health, and over the past 25 years he has revolutionized the public health care systems in Haiti, Peru, Russia, Lesotho, Rwanda and Malawi.

Paul Farmer knows the Gospel should come with a warning label:

Warning: This Changes Everything.

And Paul is not alone. Over the past year and a half we have met and been inspired by the life and work of Becca Stevens in Nashville. Now if anyone would have had a right to abandon the church and abandon her faith, you’d think it would have been Becca. Her father was killed by a drunk driver when she was a young child and then she was sexually abused by the senior warden of the church where her father had been the priest.

But Becca knew that Jesus heals everything and Jesus changes everything. And so she took that experience and followed Jesus. She noticed that Jesus spent his time with prostitutes – loving them and healing them. So she spent time with prostitutes … and learned that they had stories of abuse not too different from her own. She discovered, as she says, “there’s a thin line between priest and prostitute.”

Jesus said “follow me,” and Becca followed him. She has founded Magdalene and Thistle Farms and dedicated her life to bringing love and healing to women who have survived lives of abuse, prostitution and drug addiction. And her congregation, St. Augustine’s in Nashville, has walked together with her in becoming a community of deep prayer, humble service, and overflowing joy.

Becca Stevens and the people of St. Augustine’s know the Gospel should come with a warning label:

Warning: This Changes Everything.

And we know it, too. We know it because it is our history as Christ Church Cathedral. We know it from Montgomery Schuyler alienating friends and parishioners by visiting both Union and Confederate soldiers in the hospital because he knew following Jesus meant loving everyone, not just those you agree with.

We know it from this Cathedral’s courageous solidarity with people living with AIDS in the early 1980s, welcoming people into our community when other churches wouldn’t even bury their bodies.

And we know it from this past year together. I imagine that any notion we had that the church is a place where we are supposed to be comfortable, where nothing is supposed to upset us and where nothing is supposed to change has disappeared after this last year. 2011 saw enough change at Christ Church Cathedral for five years in most congregations.

When you go upstairs you’ll find on the tables a list of all the new things that happened in the past year. And I hope you’ll take a good, long look at them so you can really get a sense for how much we have done and how much has happened and how much God’s Spirit has been moving in this place and in this community. But even if we just hit the highlights, it is astounding how much change there has been.

In 2011, we changed our Sunday service schedule and began the Liturgy of the Word for Children. We paid off more than $1.4 million in debt, instituted a new ministry structure, and hosted a major art exhibit. We began partnerships with the Bridge, Nkope Health Clinic in Malawi and became a Winter Outreach shelter. We finished the first round of Back to Basics classes and started a discipleship group for people to support each other in lives of prayer, worship, learning, serving and giving. We closed the Cathedral bookstore and ended the tradition of the Flower Festival Eucharist and street fair. We began a renewal of our liturgical ministries with the establishment of the Guild of Vergers, and have been the catalyst for bringing Becca’s vision of extravagant love and healing for women who have survived lives of prostitution and drug abuse to our city in the birth of Magdalene St. Louis.

When we go upstairs, we will hear from six people who have been part of some of these new and revitalized ministries at Christ Church Cathedral. They will each speak briefly not so much about the nuts and bolts of what is happening but about their experience of following Jesus through these new expressions of our life together.

Now not everyone agrees with all the change … and that’s OK. That’s to be expected. Some of this change has been wonderful and some has been painful. And some of the change has been different things to different people. But every piece of it has been the result of faithful people working together, straining to hear Jesus’ call of “Follow me” and asking “what does it look like for us to follow Jesus TOGETHER.” And what we are learning is what we already knew … that it means things are going to change.

What we are learning is that Jesus changes everything.

And so there has been change. And there will continue to be change. And thank God.

When we go upstairs we will also hear from our treasurer, Kris Reppert. And Kris will do what she does best and that is speak the truth. And at the risk of stealing her thunder, I will tell you that there are two big truths that Kris will speak. The first is that we cannot continue on the road we have been going down financially. And the second is we are all in this together.

Last month, Chapter passed a budget that, if income stays the same, will require nearly $75,000 we had set aside from the Pope Bequest for new program and staff to be used instead to balance an already lean budget and just maintain current staffing and services. Our hope was never to have to use Pope bequest money to balance the budget … partly because we wanted to use that gift for new missions and ministries, but partly because it is a repeating of the robbing Peter to pay Paul history that unfortunately has become an all too familiar part of our life together these past decades.

The budget passed by the slimmest of margins, that’s how conflicted our Chapter was about this. But one thing we were united in is that things must change. We must continue to embrace God’s mission and grow but we also cannot let this just be another case of kicking the financial can down the road.

And so last Thursday night, Chapter met and we had a wonderful, Spirit-filled conversation about the year to come. And Chapter identified two areas that need immediate and ongoing attention if we are not going to be repeating the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And as I close, I want to share that conversation with you … and invite you to think and pray about how we can all be part of it together.

At the top of every Chapter agenda since I have arrived here, we have printed the mission statement of the Church that is in our prayer book. It reads: “The mission of the church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” It comes straight from Second Corinthians when Paul tells the church that we are ambassadors of Christ and the mission Christ gives us is the mission of reconciliation, of bringing God’s people together..

Beloved, that is the work before us. And that is the call your Chapter has identified for us to share.

The first task group that Chapter formed was one called fundraising. Sounds ordinary enough, right. It’s something that will be distinct from the discipleship emphasis of stewardship and the budget and management functions of finance and look at how we can get income from outside this community. But really, what that is really about is reconciliation, about bringing God’s people together. Because if we are to raise support from outside this congregation, that’s what we need to do. We need to go out into the world and spread the word about and build investment in this Cathedral from the surrounding community. We must continue to demonstrate that Christ Church Cathedral is a place where the Spirit of God is alive and show that we are a Cathedral that brings God’s people together for prayer and worship, for service and giving. We must continue to demonstrate that Christ Church Cathedral is a catalyst and hub of spirit, culture and service for St. Louis and the region. We must show that this Cathedral is a heart of this city that the people of St. Louis must come together and enthusiastically and joyfully support.

The second task group that Chapter formed will look at ways WE can continue to come together as a community. How we can communicate better with one another. How we can realize that the mission and maintenance of this Cathedral are not just the responsibility of the few but the opportunity of the many. How we can embrace shared responsibility, shared opportunity and shared leadership. How we can pray and play, study and serve, worship and give. In short, how we can follow Jesus … together.

If you are looking for a church home that is easy and calm, where there is no conflict because there is no change and where you’re sure not to be challenged or upset … I think you know by now you’re in the wrong place. Because that’s not the church we are.

Who are we?


We are the church of Paul Farmer and Becca Stevens, the church of Oscar Romero and Montgomery Schuyler.

*But more than that, WARNING - we are the church of Kris Reppert, who has spent more hours than anyone can count helping us chart a sound financial course for this Cathedral’s future.

*WARNING - We are the church of Becket Clark, who turned a fundraiser for his band into a food-raiser for the Saturday morning breakfast.

*WARNING – We are the church of Jim Kimmey, St. Louis’s own version of Paul Farmer, who lives his faith by dedicating his life to working for excellent health care for all.

*WARNING - We are the church of Ronnie Smith, John Kilgore and Chip Helms, who saw a vision of a church filled with iconic windows into the heart of God, and a vision of the city of St. Louis coming inside our doors to experience is, and with a mighty team made it happen all around us.

*WARNING - We are the church of Deborah Nelson Linck and Alice Stanley, whose vision of Black History as ALL of our history is changing the way we see ourselves as a community and the way this community of St. Louis sees us.

*WARNING - We are church of Robert Kamkwalala, who has brought us a vision of meeting and serving Christ halfway around the world in Nkope, Malawi and WARNING we are the church of Susan Adams, Mark Sluss, Tim Hamilton, Michael Reed and Orrin Dieckmeyer, who last Tuesday night turned this Cathedral into a shelter from the storm in our first night of Winter Outreach.

*WARNING – We are the church of Carolyn Herman, Miriam Jorgenson, Olivia Smith and Deb Holmes, who took their concerns about our need to more fully incorporate children into the life of this Cathedral and instead of just complaining in the parking lot, engaged leadership in respectful honest, conversation that is leading us into a deeper look at what it means to be a fully inclusive community.

*WARNING - We are the church of Mike Kyzer, Miriam Jenkins, Roy Garcia, Mary Seager, Susan Adams, Jane and Patty Mayfield, Fred Peterson, Penny James, Ronnie Smith and Alex Weymann, who have formed our first discipleship group to support and hold one another accountable to lives of following Jesus through regular prayer, worship, study, service and giving.

WARNING - We are the church of too many names to mention. We are the church who has heard and is still straining to hear Christ’s call to follow him. We are the church that knows and welcomes the change that following Christ invites us into.

So if this is you are new to Christ Church Cathedral, know you have come to an amazing place. But have no illusions. We are the church that is following Jesus.

And Warning. This changes everything.

Vicar's Address to the 2012 Annual Meeting

The Rev’d Canon Amy Chambers Cortright
Annual Meeting – Vicar’s Address
Good Afternoon!

The Dean has shared a lot of really, really good news with you about where we have been this year and where we are heading in 2012 and beyond. It is truly an exciting time in the life of Christ Church Cathedral.

As the Vicar of our congregation, I am tasked with the nuts and bolts of congregational life, with oversight of our common life, specifically in the areas of Inreach, Outreach, Worship and Education.

As I mentioned in my address at the Annual Meeting last year, when I arrived at the Cathedral, nearly a year and a half ago, the first thing I looked for was a list of ministries and chairs – but I couldn’t find even one. I knew that we needed to spend some intentional time getting organized – and establishing a clear picture of what was happening here, when, - and by whom -- following the why, of course -- the critical work of Chapter.

It was quite evident that some structural work was necessary. This past year has been spent capturing each ministry, assessing status, identifying leadership and categorizing. “The Chart” as it has been fondly named, is a work in progress. It is a great start – “first generation” so to speak.

My goal for this morning is to leave you with a clear understanding of how this new structure works. The six ministry areas of Christ Church Cathedral are: Inreach, Outreach, Communications and Evangelism (one), Education, Worship and Administration. Each and every ministry in this place falls into one of these categories. Some ministries may fall into multiple categories, but for the purposes of organization, I have given each one a “home” on the chart.

For each ministry area, two Chapter liaisons are assigned and act as go-betweens for the individual ministries - and Chapter. The Chapter liaisons do not chair any ministry areas and may or may not serve on any of the ministries in his or her area. As Vicar, I oversee the ministry areas of Inreach, Outreach, Worship and Education. As Dean, Mike oversees Communications and Evangelism and Administration.

One week before Chapter meetings, liaisons send an e-mail to the Contacts of each ministry in their area asking if Chapter involvement is desired or required in any way. In this way, each and every ministry has monthly contact with Chapter.
With our new structure, two persons are required to serve as “Contacts” for each ministry with very few exceptions (which are noted). In this way, responsibility is shared and we know that at least two people are willing to “claim” and live out each ministry. Sustainability is very important in our work and all too often we suffer the classic church syndromes of burnout, ownership and resentment – and in some cases, more than one or all of them at the same time. Ministry is to be for us, though sacrificial, life-giving and joyful.

In the spirit of clarity and sustainability, some ministries that have been traditionally linked at the Cathedral are now separate so that the work of one group is more focused and manageable.

If you are the head (one of two “Contacts”) for a ministry at the Cathedral, you should be notified about your new Chapter liaison (assignments will be made after the elections of this meeting) - and you should be receiving a monthly e-mail asking if your ministry has anything to report or anything upon which Chapter must decide). Please be in touch with me if that is not happening. Copies of the Ministry Structure may be found at your tables – please take one if you are interested. I encourage each of you to take a look at the two enlarged ministry charts on the wall in this room and in front of the elevators. Thank you so much everyone who filled out the time and talent portion of the stewardship form -- for those of you who have not done so, please do take a look and consider where you might use you gifts for ministry in this community. I encourage everyone to look these ministries over -- does something intrigue you? Is there something listed that you didn't know about?

I also encourage you, in the coming months, to watch for continuing liturgical renewal at the Cathedral. At specifically appointed periods during the year, each liturgical ministry, beginning with our brand new Guild of Vergers will receive special attention including recruitment and training. We are especially excited about weaving more and more of our younger members into these rolls.

I would like to extend my gratitude to all of you, to Dean Mike Kinman and Chapter; to the clergy and lay staff of Christ Church Cathedral and especially to those who have stepped down from leadership positions this past year. If you are here, please stand.

A round of applause!

Grace and peace to you. Please know that I hold each and every one of you in prayer as we being another year working together in Jesus’s name. Thank you.

2011 – A Year of Many Changes and New Things at Christ Church Cathedral

Here's what was on the tables at the annual meeting on Sunday ... an accounting of many new things that happened and changes that occurred in the year past. We haven't been letting moss grow under our feet!

2011 – A Year of Many Changes and New Things at Christ Church Cathedral … Changed service times from 8, 9, & 11:15 to 8 & 10 … adopted new structure for Cathedral ministries … began restructuring of liturgical ministries with establishment and training of Guild of Vergers… called a Dean … began partnership with the Bridge Sunday Lunch Program … began partnership with Nkope Health Clinic in Malawi … hosted Icons in Transformation … completed first round of Back to Basics classes and began first Discipleship Group … called a new Dean … was catalyst for starting Magdalene St. Louis … closed the Cathedral bookstore … revamped financial structure for greater transparency and clearer authority for Chapter … began new tradition of Black History Month preacher … ended tradition of Flower Festival Eucharist and street fair … entered into partnership with Park Pacific and Missouri Botanical Garden to replant and care for Library Park … began One Metropolitan Square noonday prayer service … became Winter Outreach shelter site … began the Outreach Initiative to explore and affirm new outreach ministries … Dean and Chapter engaged in work on building shared leadership … hosted Sept. 11 remembrance service … began raising funds for Christmas greens in July so we can know what our budget is and more deeply observe Advent … started coffee hour after 10 am service … began Liturgy of the Word for children … established interior design committee to make decisions about interior design issues in Tuttle Building … cleaned up Nave and repainted first floor of BTM in preparation for icons exhibit … Getting People Started group began handing out newcomers bags … Tower bells restrung … Tower Bell Ringers group began … Tithed $120,000 from Pope Bequest locally and internationally … paid off more than $1.4 million in debt, including “burning the mortgage” on the White Fund Loan … Hosted Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori … Hosted new Bishop of Lui, Stephen Dokolo and his wife, Lillian … began partnership hosting Humanitri meetings … began Sunday intraCathedral field trips for Sunday School … and probably other things we’ve forgotten!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why Christ Church Cathedral is banning polystyrene (aka: styrofoam)

Last Thursday, the Cathedral Chapter voted unanimously to ban the use of all styrofoam products related to all food service on church property effective March 1, 2012. This was in response to a proposal brought to Chapter by Cathedral member Barbi Click, who writes this explanation of why we have taken this important step. Many thanks, Barbi!

Why are we banning polystyrene (aka Styrofoam)? Because we are stewards of this creation, what we do…or don’t do…matters. God created an ideal world, complete with everything needed to sustain life and allow it to thrive. While polystyrene (aka Styrofoam) products are incredibly convenient and inexpensive in the short run, these are not conducive to the idea of sustaining or the thriving of life.

Polystyrene is made from petroleum. The production of one ton of the foam requires 685 US gallons of oil, emits 20,000 tons of CO2 and over 2000 tons of greenhouse gases. In the production process, benzene, a carcinogenic chemical, is used. Due to its presence, food in direct contact with the polystyrene packing can be affected. More than 20 cities in the United States have banned the use of expanded polystyrene for food packaging.

It does not biodegrade without a suitable solvent. In fact, it has the durability to remain intact for hundreds of years. This is important to know because people in the US alone throw away 25,000,000,000 styrofoam cups every year. Those cups that make it into the landfill, take up a lot of space, estimated at 30% of the space in landfills worldwide. Many end up in our sewer systems and waterways doing harm to marine life and wildlife by slowly starving to death animals that ingest it.
Due to the fact that polystyrene is expensive to recycle, few waste companies will do so. For those companies that will recycle Styrofoam, the requirements for those wishing to do so are cost and time prohibitive for most individuals and organizations.

It is with all of this in mind that Christ Church Cathedral Chapter decided to join other parishes within the Diocese to prohibit the use of polystyrene/Styrofoam for food service at all functions, public or private.

(This information comes from a variety of sources, including but not limited to the US Environmental Protection Agency,, and the Green Restaurant Association)

Monday, January 16, 2012

God is calling ALL OF US.

In 1985 I went away to college,

it was my junior year, I had just completed my Associates Degree, from Jefferson College,

and I was headed to Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University), in Springfield, Missouri.

My Dad drove me and my belongings to school, to help me move into my dorm room.

And after we got everything in place. A trip to the bookstore, and the grocery store, then he slipped me some money, got into the minivan and drove away.

I specifically remember thinking. Ok, now what?

My friends from high school were not moving down until 2 days later, and my room mate didn’t arrive until the day classes started.

Honestly it was the loneliest 2 days I had ever spent. I was away from my family,

and I was away from my constant companion, my twin brother Mike,

The person who had always been with me for 19 years.

I honestly went back to my dorm room.

Sat on my bed and just sat for about 15 minutes.

I decided that I would try to figure out where all my classes were for the following week.

So off I went on a self guided tour of the campus.

A few hours later I was heading back to my room, and was walking across the quad, in front of the student center, and I ran into a group of students from one of the Fraternities.

They invited me to hang out with them, so I figured why not!?

They also invited me to dinner with them. Which I did go to.

At this time I was not yet an Episcopalian, so didn’t think to look into the Episcopal Campus presence.

Eventually my friends arrived on campus and I began to plug into other activities.

But I did eventually join that fraternity and I made some very close lifelong friends.

Fast forward a few years, after I was graduated I was living in Columbia, Missouri.

I was invited to a wedding of one of my fraternity brothers.

And it was back in Springfield, and in this Episcopal church right off campus.

I had driven by it many times, in my years at SMS, but I never thought to stop in.

And I’ll be honest, the liturgy grabbed me.

I was captivated by the vestments, the language, the inclusiveness.

For once in my life I really really wanted to take communion.

I was not yet baptized yet either so I did not go up, but I went away thinking, I really want to do that.

I was living in Columbia, Missouri at the time, and I did what most people did when I returned.

I picked up the yellow pages. (There was no internet then kids!).

I found, Calvary Episcopal Church.

I called for service times, and attended the next Sunday service.

This would have probably been around the end of July, of 1988.

I attended for a few weeks, and then called up one of the Associate Rectors at the time.

And asked to meet with him. We started some baptism classes.

And in the meantime, I started to plug into the Canterbury Club there for the University of Missouri and Stephens College that met at Calvary.

I met some great friends.

Mike Kinman, Robin Kinman, and Heidi and Mike Clark to name a few.

A few weeks later August 31st, at the start of classes at Mizzou, I was baptized.

My sponsor? Was the entire Episcopal Campus Ministry group.

What amazed me is the community aspect of my baptism.

Everyone was participating and joyful at my becoming a member of the church.

And I was all so happy to be able to have communion and to share it with that group. It was a very memorable event for me.

Forming communities became important to me.

When I moved to Omaha, a year later, I sought out a few Episcopal churches, and eventually settled on St. Andrew’s.

And as we were close to the University of Nebraska Omaha,

and had a few students attending I approached our rector and asked, about starting a college, young adult group.

His response. “sounds good what are you going to do about it?”

A bit of Trivia: how many of you have seen the Jack Nicholson movie “About Schmidt”?

The priest who counsels Nicholson’s Character “Warren Schmidt” was my old rector Bob Kem.

But that’s a bit of a tangent.

What I didn’t know was at that time was that looking to create communities for students and young adults, became a pattern for me.

When I moved to Chicago in 1992, I sought out a church close to me and eventually got involved in the Vocare movement, which is a young adult, version of Happening or Cursillo.

The common denominator here was a sense of knowing where people were loneliest and stepping in to build community.

I did not seem to realize it but I had to be drawing on my own experience my first time away in college.

And how lonely I was those first two days.

A community sprang up and got me, and that made all the difference for me.

You see as someone who was always identified as “one of the twins”.

Having another identity to be a part of something else helped me, in my life.

And once I was involved in a faith community, something else happened.

You see I believe that the natural response we have to our baptism is to go out and to seek to serve in the world.

We look for where Christ calls us to work, to bring the good news to the world.

To build communities where all can receive a new identity and a new life, as a part of the body of Jesus, here and now.

The natural response of our baptism is to go and do diaconal work.

The Association of Episcopal Deacons has published a pamphlet entitled. Engaging the Diakonia of All Believers: and it in part says:

All Christians are called through the baptismal covenant to live out diakonia through what they do and how they live their daily life in the world.

This is the first and most fundamental expression of diakonia.

Organized expressions of diakonia occur at the congregational level, as well as through those who are set apart as ordained deacons.

Deacons are to model and lead, by inspiring, empowering, and engaging every baptized person in living out the diakonia of all believers in everyday life.

Deacons do not – cannot – “do” diakonia on behalf of the baptized, but they help to lead all people, including the ordained, into the servant ministry of all believers which is the essence of our baptismal covenant.

Too often we bring persons into our church through baptism, or confirmation and then we don’t do anything with them.

Our response should be. We have opportunities, HERE and HERE, and HERE!

To proclaim God’s presence in the world .

Through our words and through our actions. Now I’m not talking about some Pelagian heresy of salvation through works, but that by the belief that we are known as Christians by the fruit we bear.

And that is to care for the least.

When I was living in Chicago, I took an extension course of Education for Ministry from the Episcopal Seminary in Sewanee, and the last of the 4 year course of study we looked at Calls to ministry and our gifts.

And looking at what spoke and formed me in my life began to coalesce a call to the Diaconate.

And in reading from the prayerbook the rite for the ordination of a deacon, I found that during the examination, the part about deacons being called: “to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely”

And it hit me. “THE LONELY” that’s what I had been doing all those years.

Trying to find for myself a way to fit and and trying to offer to a place where the church can intersect with the lonely in our communities, especially the young adult and the students , all where I lived, especially in Columbia, Omaha, and Chicago.

Now this is just my story. And it is a story of how I was called to the diaconate.

But not all callings are to the ordained ministry.

I sit on the Commission on Ministry and we tell seekers all the time, that the question we are answering is not “are you called to ministry”, because that answer is YES.

Everyone is called to some kind of ministry, we have to figure out what.

Many are called to specialized lay ministries.

Myrna Wacker is called to the altar guild,
Our choir members are called to give the gift of their voices of praise in voice and music.
Brother Franklin is called to a devotional life in monastic community. Some are called quietly to pray for others.
Some called to teach Sunday school.
Some to visit the sick and to take them the eucharist.
Some are called to tend to the gardens and flower beds around the cathedral. Some are called to acolyte,
some called to volunteer at Saturday Breakfast,
or to assist at the bridge on the Sunday that we serve lunch there.
Some feel called to explore the possibility of creating a Magdalene (Thistle farms) model outreach here in St. Louis.
All of us are called.
And all glorify god and exercise our baptismal covenant when we do these things.

When we do these things we are witnessing to the saving power of Christ.

Society looks at us and says “who are they? And why do they do these great things?”

The answer is we are compelled to.

If we truly take serious our baptismal vows, and if we truly believe the Gospel teachings we HAVE to.

There is opportunity all around us.

To live out your lives as Christians.
You just have to hold your breath and take that first step.

Step out of your comfort space and do it!

Because you know in trying you cannot fail!

Think about that! What could you accomplish if you knew you couldn’t fail!?

Or if you knew that you wouldn’t be ridiculed or thought less of for trying.

If you knew that in your trying you made Jesus smile?

That is our calling.

To be together in community, as the body of Christ, to tend to the least in our midst.

That’s what being a Christian is all about.

And how exciting is it to be doing it here in this space and this time?!?

I invite you to look back, see how God has been preparing you.

How has god been calling you to service?

What gift of yours does the church need?

Does the community need?

And how can we as a community help you discern and to accomplish this?

To help you live into and fulfill your baptismal vows?

That is why the church community exists, to equip and teach us how to live into God’s expectations.

How will you answer your call?

Reflections on Minstry: Birthday Parties at the Juvenile Detention Center

Cindy, one of our newest friends at Christ Church Cathedral, shares this experience of helping out with one of the Cathedral's many ministries ... birthday parties at the juvenile detention center with Episcopal City Mission.

On Jan 6, I attended the birthday party at the juvenile center, and I just wanted to communicate how much I enjoyed my experience. I am new to St Louis, and I heard of the program at a Sunday service. It caught my ear. I came from a family in which birthday's were recognized and it was a day of feeling very special. I thought of the bday kids in the center who were feeling very low. Maybe some came from a strong home, but I really doubt it. I figured that most were not feeling very special.

My boyfriend and I arrived at the center and was warmly greeted by Dannie. He even stood outside waiting for people to arrive. What a pleasant group of people that had gathered. Dannie stated that he had been doing this program for 10 yrs. He certainly will be rewarded for his effort.

We were told that in the City of St Louis center that we really were not allowed to mingle, sit, and talk with the kids. As we met the kids, the kids and adults just stared at one another. The kid's clothes were color coded. The oldest in red, seems a bit aloof. The younger kids in blue giggled and seemed excited. As the kids shared their treat basket, you could see more smiles and everyone relaxing. I was actually shocked to see how most kids were quiet and attentive to their Bingo Cards. With delight, they would shout out "Bingo", and sport big smiles came when they selected their prize.....and even multiple quiet thanks were whispered to me as they reached into the gift basket. A sad thing that I witnessed; a kid shouted Bingo and seemed very excited. It turns out that he didn't really have one and got no prize. He quit playing thereafter. I am sure that that is how he handles most failures in his life. Other kids had the same let down, and yet, tried again. There were only 3 girls, and one had a birthday. After she shyly listened to us sing "Happy Birthday", she received a big bag of goodies, and squealed at something that she saw inside. In that moment, I knew that she must have felt special.

As we left, we all walked out together to our cars. I felt safe the entire night. I slept well that night, remembering the smiles and joyful energy, and knew that we had done something good that night.

Sincerely, Cindy

If you're interested in find out more or getting involved in our birthday parties at the juvenile detention center, contact Dannie Franklin at dannie.franklin (at)

If you're interested in learning more about Episcopal City Mission, the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri's ministry with youth in detention, go to

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Taking the Fear out of Evangelism" -- a sermon on the Baptism of Our Lord.

Preached by the Rev. John Good at Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday, January 8, 2012
Words that end in "ism" are often scary words: communism, nazism, fascism, racism…evangelism. But evangelism is scary only to Episcopalians, and members of a few other so-called "mainline" denominations, who believe that religion, like politics, should never be discussed in polite company. Actually, we may be more arrogant than scared. I used to have a cartoon taped to my office door that showed two ladies of a certain age and status saying to their priest, "We don't know why you're making such a fuss about evangelism. Everyone in this town who ought be an Episcopalian already is one." If there happen to be some who are not Episcopalians but ought to be, our approach to evangelizing them is similar to taking a beautiful, fully equipped, large aquarium down to the beach and wait for the fish to jump in.

Yet I still think we Episcopalians are more frightened by evangelism than arrogant about it. If you are anything like me, you are scared that someone will ask you to do the one on one, arm twisting persuasion that is the stereotype of evangelizing tactics. Most of us have encountered that stereotype in pushy people who ask us if we have been "saved." My late wife's quick answer to such people was, "Yes, 2000 years ago." But that usually did not satisfy them. They were not really interested in whether she had been saved. They were interested in whether she had been saved the "right way," which, of course, was the emotional way they had been saved. We Episcopalians are not so arrogant that we think we know the right way to be saved. Indeed, many of us have questions about what it means to be saved. So we aren't very motivated to persuade others to do it our way.

You will be glad to hear that most experts on evangelism do not endorse the pushy approach, not because it scares church members like you and me, but because it doesn't work very well. Less than two per cent of present church goers say they began to go to church because someone persuaded them that going to church was a good idea if they wanted to get saved. That isn't even as good as the aquarium by the seashore. Four per cent of current church members were first attracted to the church by the beauty of its buildings. Evangelist crusades, like Billy Graham’s, account for another four per cent. Six per cent come to church membership through satellite programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Day Care Centers that use church buildings.

That leaves something like 84% of all other church goers. Researchers tell us they started attending because they were invited by a member of the church. Many of them were probably invited the way I was. My parents "invited" me to attend Presbyterian Sunday School when I was about 5 years old. Nonetheless, being invited by a friend who goes to church is the way almost all adult non-church goers become adult church goers. That fact may explain why the Episcopal Church has not grown for more than five decades, and in fact, has lost a million members during that time. You see, it is estimated that the typical Episcopalian invites a friend to church about once every thirty years. It'll take a while to make up that million member loss if we keep up that blistering pace.

On the other hand, our fear of evangelism should be calmed if we know that the only thing we need to do to contribute to evangelism is invite our friends to church. To make our role even less anxious, we don't need to invite all our friends; just those whom we think might find in the church peace to allay anxiety, strength to bear adversity, a place to act on their idealism, or a way to find meaning for their life, claim their identity, and affirm their worth. When we invite friends to church we turn the evangelizing process over to the congregation. It's worship, teaching, and fellowship present Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit in such ways that the guests we invite are often led to believe in him as Savior and follow him as Lord within the context of the church. In the Episcopal Church you don't have to believe before you can belong. From the early days of the church the Celtic Christians, led by St. Patrick, taught us that belonging leads to belief. So today we welcome all seekers to belong to the church without requiring them to believe what the church teaches, knowing that in time many of them will come to trust their lives to the God revealed by Jesus and proclaimed by the Church.

If evangelism starts with belonging to a congregation, the congregation needs to be a place that welcomes new folks and makes them feel comfortable within its fellowship. Our congregation needs to practice an extravagant hospitality to newcomers and visitors, believing that anybody who joins us for worship in this place has come seeking the love of God in one way or another. The only way they can tangibly feel God’s love is from the way the members greet them and care for them. So we do have another role in evangelism. Each of us is called to extend the hospitality of God to all newcomers and visitors to this church. That means greeting them warmly during the passing of the peace and after the service concludes. We need to make an effort to engage in conversation with anybody we don't know or see here regularly, beginning with the words, "I don't believe I have met you. I'm John (or Joanne, or Alice, or Ted, or Chuck or whatever your name is)." We can let the conversation proceed naturally from there, but we need to remember that our purpose in talking with these folks is to let them see the love of God in action.

You may have been wondering why I have devoted this sermon to a prosaic lecture on evangelism instead of trying to inspire you with a message based on the scriptures for today. Full disclosure: I am a member of the GPS team—the "Getting People Started" team—that the Chapter established to help make our congregation better at evangelism. My purpose today was to teach how each of us, individually, can help Christ Church Cathedral fulfill its calling as an evangelizing fellowship. As for the scripture, today's gospel tells how a split in the heavens, a descending dove, and a reassuring voice revealed to Jesus who he really was. That is what we call an "epiphany"—an unmistakable revelation of God. God wants this Cathedral and all congregations of the church to be epiphanies to the world, revealing God’s love for all people. Taking our part in the evangelizing process is one of the ways we help our congregation make that epiphany.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"Our Holy Names" -- A sermon for the Feast of the Holy Name

Preached by the Very Rev. Mike Kinman at Christ Church Cathedral at 10 am on the Feast of the Holy Name, Sunday, January 1, 2012

“After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”

Some good news to start this New Year.

At about 11:30 Wednesday night, December 28, after a long pregnancy and labor, Anne and Perry Trolard’s child was born. A nine-pound boy.

When I got the news, I asked Anne “does he have a name?” And she said, “Not yet. We want to get to know him a little bit.”

Now some people might call that new parents being nervous and indecisive. But I think that shows an appreciation for what names are. Names are our parents’ dreams for us. They honor friends and ancestors. Parents choose names as they dream of what good of the past their new child will embody and what new things they hope this new child will become.

That was certainly true for Robin and me. First of all, let me tell you it is no easy task choosing a name when one of the choosers is an elementary school teacher. I can’t tell you how many names were taken off the table because of an association with a child in some past class. But choose we did. For our first child, after spending some time considering Jack, after my dad’s brother who was killed in World War II, we settled on Schroedter … my mother’s maiden name. For our second child, we chose Hayden planning on calling him Hays, in honor of one of the most dear and honorable people we knew, our former Bishop Hays Rockwell.

And of course each of them have taken those names and have shaped them, becoming their own person. And maybe someday someone will look over their new child, and dream of who he might be, and think of them.

So Anne and Perry took their time, got to know their son, and thought about what their dreams were for him.

Of all the ways each of us is different from the other, one thing we have in common is that, sometime after our birth, someone gave each of us a name that was a hope and a dream for us.

Just for a moment, find one person next to you and share what you know of the story of your name. Where does it come from? What does it mean? And if you don’t know either, share what it means to you. You might have to triple up in some cases but make sure nobody is sitting by themselves.

People take 2-3 minutes and share stories of names.

Names are powerful. Names are who we are and dreams of what we will become.

Today is the Feast of the Holy Name. Where eight days after his birth, Mary and Joseph took their child to have him circumcised … to mark that he was not an outsider but part of the family of faith. And something else happened … he was given a name. A name that represented the best of his ancestors. A name that was the hope and dream of who he would become. A name that was given not just by Mary and Joseph but by an angel who knew this child was indeed God incarnate.

"After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus.”

Jesus – the name given by the angel, God’s own messenger.

Jesus – also translated Yeshua or Joshua – the great ancestor who finally led the people out of the wilderness and into the promised land.

Jesus – which literally means “God is salvation”

Even though there are many different reasons why we come here this morning another thing we all have in common is when we come here, we are gathering as people of many names and many dreams in the name of one person. We are gathering in the name of Jesus.

And so, for just a few minutes, let’s look at what that means.

We gather in the name of Jesus. We gather in the name of the one whose name and whose life proclaims, “God is salvation.”

Every waking moment, we are so aware of what we dearly wish we could be saved from: Fear. Rejection. Loss. Loneliness. Hunger. Doubt. Uncertainty. Anger. Addiction. Debt. The list goes on and on and on. And every waking moment, we are sold a bill of goods that promises to save us but never truly delivers.

Mostly, we are sold the lie that spending and consuming can save us. The lie that there is no itch that cannot be scratched by just buying one more thing. But it is a lie. Because no matter how much we buy or consume, there is still a hole left at the end of the day. Even though whatever anesthetic we choose might dull the pain for a while, the fear, rejection, loss, doubt, uncertainty … all of it is still there.

And so we gather in Jesus name. We gather in the name of the one whose very name proclaims something different. Proclaims that God is salvation.

God is salvation. What saves us? The truth that there is a God who knows our truest name. A God who knows our best dreams and sees us as deeply beautiful. What saves us? The truth that there is a God whose knowledge of us is so deep and whose love for us is so boundless that there is no need for fear, no rejection that can matter, no loss that can ever be permanent.

Are you afraid? God is salvation.

Are you lonely? God is salvation.

Are you hungry? Are you angry or sad or imprisoned by addiction?

God is salvation.

It’s an amazing truth. But like most amazing truths, what wells up in us when we here it is the question of Mary at the annunciation: “But how can that be?”

Well, it can be because when we gather in the name of Jesus, we take on the name of Jesus. When we gather in the name of the one whose name proclaims that God is salvation, we become the bearers of that salvation – to each other and to the world.

When we gather in Jesus name, together we become Jesus, we become the Body of Christ. We become ambassadors and agents of salvation. And how do we do that? How does God do that through us? The same way the original Jesus did. One person at a time. By learning each other’s names. By loving and saving the world one life, one name at a time.

Did you ever notice that Jesus never healed huge groups of people. Every healing story in the Gospels is intensely personal. Jesus meets each person, gets to know them, learns their name – even the demons -- and loves them with a depth of love that cannot help but save them. And as the Body of Christ gathered in Jesus’ name, that is our gift as well.

It starts by doing what we just did this morning. It starts with sharing and learning a name. It starts with turning to the person next to us and saying, “This is who I am. Tell me who you are.”

Gathering in Jesus’ name is not about building huge programs that give a little bit of help to faceless, nameless crowds. Who we are and what we are about … gathering in Jesus’ name … is intensely personal. It is meeting one another – in here and out there -- meeting one another and getting to know one another and loving each other in ways specifically tailored to each person with a depth of love that cannot help but save us from whatever pain we need saving from.

It means sharing our dreams and sharing our wounds with one another. It means not only risking loving but risking letting ourselves be loved. It means not just talking to and spending time with the people we know and like but reaching out to the stranger and letting them reach out to us. It means sharing and learning a name. Finding a stranger and saying, “This is who I am. Tell me who you are.” And discovering together that God is using each for the other in the mystical and wondrous dance of love and salvation.

Anne and Perry did settle on a name for their son. Lorne Lucas Trolard. I’ll leave it to them to tell you why they chose it and what this name means. But mostly, I’ll leave it to all of us to, as Lorne grows, get to know him better and let him get to know us. To say to him “Lorne, this is who I am, show me who you are.” To look for ways we can let God love him through us and let God love us through him.

To proclaim together that God is salvation and to be that salvation for one another. To live with him as fellow members of the Body of Christ, the gathering of the Holy Name of Jesus. AMEN.