September 15, 2011

What to Do When a Ministry Outlasts a Church?

Editor's Note: Earlier this year, Bishop Rickel (Diocese of Olympia) approached Peter Strimer and the vestry at St. Andrew's to ask if they would consider taking over operations at St. George's Episcopal Church which closed in May.  Peter wrote about the challenge St. Andrew's accepted in Getting Started.

Deciding what to do when a ministry outlasts a church seems to be my new project in launching “Church in the Round” in the Lake City neighborhood of Seattle.

We opened the doors today on this new effort in the building of what was St. George’s Episcopal Church up until May 15. The church closed but the ministry didn’t stop.

So the only mandatory assignment from the bishop in launching our new effort is that the existing ministries that were housed at the now defunct St. George’s Episcopal Church be afforded a base camp even if the church doesn’t exist anymore.

So that means that when we opened the doors on our new effort today, we already had in place a set of partner ministries that need support and at the same time are the base of support for some new and ongoing expression of the Episcopal Church in a northeast Seattle neighborhood.

Here’s who are already onboard:

  • The Little Nest Preschool with 23 three and four year olds and three teachers
  • The Stop, Drop and Roll Feeding Program that provides a hot meal to neighbors in need every Sunday evening
  • Two AA meetings
  • The Community of the Paraclete, a vowed Episcopal order that lives out their practice individually, but maintains a chapel of repose and meets once a month for prayers and fellowship

Not a bad start on a diverse list of ministries.

But it doesn’t stop there. As soon as word was out that a new way of being church – Church in the Round – was taking root at old St. George’s, new groups came forward and wanted to play. So in one short week we now have a Fiji Islander Bible Alliance Church worshipping weekly as well as St. Brigid’s Circle, a Catholic/Celtic renegade fellowship with a newly ordained woman priest who will enact their ritual monthly beginning on Samhain/Halloween. A very fascinating deep ecumenism is emerging before our very eyes and we have only been officially open for business 24 hours.

Not bad for a first day’s work. This is going to get interesting.