MAY 6, 2018 - Dr. David Ostrander
Good Morning. For those of you don’t know me I’m David Ostrander I’m on the cheer team for our capital campaign. As I was preparing these remarks I came across this passage from Mark 2:22
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins."
I love this church and all of the vintage wine we represent; but we can’t deny that there’s a need for renewal. Our oldest buildings were built about the same time I was. . . and we are all showing our age. But the Campaign for All Souls’ is exciting to me, not just because of the cosmetic surgery it will provide, but because it will allow our amazing Parish to continue to grow into the future.
I’ve never been happier in a church than I am here, today. I love the priests, the liturgy, the Eucharist, the forums, the music, your enthusiasm, friendliness and hospitality. But I’m concerned. There aren’t enough kids, or young families, and there’s not enough diversity. In the 1950s, I’m told there were 500 Sunday school students every week. When this sanctuary was completed in the 1960s the balcony and the main floor were often filled. Not today. We’re not looking for classroom space for the kids, we’re looking for kids to fill the classrooms. No surprise, studies show that churches that fail to renew themselves, fail to attract diverse populations of young people, often experience decline and sometimes fade slowly into the sunset.
But growth is harder today than in the 1950s when Pt Loma was a growing community of young families who attended church and made babies – I don’t think there much else to do on Sundays in those days. Today, 30% of Millennials embrace no religious tradition, baby making is more expensive and there’s a lot more to do on Sunday than go to church. Cynicism and skepticism are rampant. So, we’re going to have to work hard to create interest in All Souls’ amongst the young families in Pt Loma.
How are we going to do it: By inviting people we know and meet to join us on Sunday – in one survey 80% of people said they would come to church if someone asked them – let’s ask! We know it’s import to welcome newcomers, inviting them to the coffee hour and forum and sending follow-up notes. Let’s invite visitors to sit next to us in mass and then join us for coffee hour and forum. The prayer garden we’re going to create on the south end of the property will be open to the community, it could be a venue for small weddings or regular contemporary worship services. It will be an easy entry point for the curious. By creating a new nursery/preschool classroom with light and space and an outdoor play area we’ll be more attractive to young families; by enhancing the Gooden Hall space to have better aesthetics and acoustics it will be a more desirable venue for community events; by remodeling the kitchen and bringing it to commercial code we will be able to partner with groups outside the church to use that facility. There’s much more; the committee and I invite you to look at the video created by John Carroll and also check out the computer assisted drawings from the architects. Sit with the images awhile and imagine how new wine skins will allow us to open our arms to the future.
As we hear Jesus’ words from the account in John 15:5
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
We have been fruitful for decades and we have been pruned. Now it’s time to bear more fruit.
Please reflect on what you love about All Souls’ and how you can help us continue our mission by making a generous donation to the Campaign for All Souls. Thank you and God Bless you.