We have announced the launch of a new ministry Saint Paul’s Classical School which will begin operating in the Fall of 2021. As we begin to earnestly work on this project, it would help us to take a step back and understand who we are and what we are called by God to do as a parish. All of our activities and efforts should be focused towards the completion of our mission. “Mission” refers to the objective which the parish strives to accomplish. Thankfully, the Lord Jesus already outlined the universal mission of the Church when he said,
“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (St. Matt. 28:18-20).
When Jesus commissioned the Apostles, he also commissioned their successors throughout time including Saint Paul’s Church here in 21st c. Brevard County. Taking our cue from the Lord’s commandment, Saint Paul’s Church works to make lifelong Christians who hold fast to the Apostolic faith and practice of the Church and faithfully pass it to the next generation.
It’s worth the effort to unpack this statement. The first aspect I would bring to your attention is that of time. Human beings live in time. There have been thousands and thousands of years which have preceded us in the past and an unknown amount of time which lies ahead of us in the future. God, in perfect Wisdom, has placed each and every one of us in this particular time at this particular parish. Saint Paul’s Church preaches the True Faith which it has received from other faithful Christians in the past. As individuals, we have all received knowledge of Jesus Christ and His death and Resurrection through our parents, siblings, family, friends, mentors, YouTube, or any number of ways because Christians in the past were faithful to pass on the Faith. We possess the most precious gift in the Gospel which is given that world may be reconciled to God. What we have received freely, we must be careful to preserve and pass on ourselves. Like runners in a relay, every generation of Christians passes the baton to the next looking towards the prize of the Resurrection and the New Heavens and the New Earth. At this moment, it’s our turn to run. So run we must!
The second aspect is duty. A mission is not a suggestion or a recommendation. It is a commandment. All those who have been baptized into Christ have taken up the mission of the Church. In the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30) Jesus speaks of a Master who gives his servants money with the commandment that they grow it. He gives each servant a different amount. To one he gives 5, another 2, and to the last servant he gives only 1. When the Master leaves, the first two servants busy themselves doing their Master’s will, but the servant with only one talent goes out and buries for fear of losing it. When the Lord returns he rewards the first two servants for doing what he commanded and punishes the last servant for refusing to do so. The parable underscores the necessity of taking our gifts and working to accomplish the will of God. The mission Jesus gives us at the very end of the Gospel is broad. The Church is to go to all the nations to baptize and teach them to observe Christ’s commandments. How that is accomplished in particular places at particular times may change with circumstances, but the goal is the same: Make Christians who keep and pass on the Faith. Christ has also promised to be with us as we work to accomplish His mission in the world. He has given every grace needful, if we would only act in faith.
To the end that Saint Paul’s would answer the call of Jesus Christ I have briefly outlined some values to help us articulate how we would accomplish the mission which Christ gives to us and His entire Church.
1. A Place to Belong – Saint Paul’s Church would offer a place to belong. The parish is our home where we become rooted in the Christian Faith and grow in grace after the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. The parish is a place of stability and a home in the midst of the changing circumstances of the world. We joyfully invite new families to make their home with us.
2. A Faith to Believe – Saint Paul’s Church seeks to honor the Lord by faithfully teaching and catechizing her members to know the faith to believe. Through a careful reading of Holy Scripture and faithful preaching, we labor that all in our parish might grow unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Eph. 4:13). By knowing what Christ desires, we can live a life pleasing to Him.
3. A Rule for Life – Saint Paul’s Church encourages everyone to pursue the disciplines of reading Scripture and daily prayer in a rule for life. A “rule” is a way which we order our lives. The Book of Common Prayer gives Christians a time-tested way to order their lives around Jesus Christ.
4. A Mission to Accomplish – Finally, with parish ministry ordered around these values, all those who are baptized into Jesus Christ will faithfully persevere in this Faith throughout their lives. Parishioners of all ages are both the objects and the co-laborers of the mission, whereby we evangelize our family, friends, and neighbors to come and know the grace of God in which we ourselves continue to grow.
We can see how a school easily fits into the life of the Church and honors these values. It gives children a place to belong and call their own. It teaches them the true faith to believe that they might live in a way pleasing to God. It gives them and their parents a way they all can daily grow closer to God with a rule for life. Finally, it forms them to look towards the future where they will take the baton of the Christian Faith and work to accomplish the mission of the Gospel wherever they might go. We will encourage them all with joy, and listen for the words of the Master from the parable, “Well done thou good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt. 25:21).