Celebrating Good News at St. Barnabas
While many were betting on their college basketball brackets during March Madness this year, St. Barnabas, Montgomery, celebrated its own good news, with a new event they called March Gladness. The congregation gathered for a fun and family-friendly event designed to celebrate recent successes, build fellowship and introduce new parish initiatives.
More than 140 members attended the event. A dozen stations were set up around the church, each featuring a different culinary treat, as well as information about a new ministry and the opportunity to sign up to volunteer. Kids had lots to do, including face painting, basketball, pop a shot, a photo booth and an art activity.
Everyone in attendance received a “passport” to the event, with a map of each of the stations and what to find there. Anyone who visited all twelve stations was eligible to win prizes. The grand prize? Two tickets to the NCAA tournament in Columbus.
JOE FROM CYPRUS
In 2014, Canon Jack Koepke inspired church members with a St. Barnabas Day sermon about the church’s namesake, Joseph. Joseph gave his wealth to Jesus’ disciples to help spread God’s good news. The disciples gave Joseph the nickname Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” Koepke exhorted the members of St. Barnabas to take up the mission of encouragement. They did that, and also adopted Joe as their mascot. “Flat Joe” (a spinoff on kids’ favorite, Flat Stanley) has travelled around the world with parish members.
Also in 2014, a group of parishioners began work on a strategic planning program to take St. Barnabas into its next chapter. Called “Intentional Transformation,” the process identified three initial goals for the church: enhance the parish experience; reach out to neighboring communities; and attract new members. The exercise led to twelve new or renewed ministries designed to achieve those goals.
Since new priest-in-charge Nancy Turner Jones arrived in August 2014, St. Barnabas has welcomed more than 40 new families and has expanded the Sunday School program, more than doubling the number of students in attendance. The church has added a staff youth ministry director, who will lead a group on a mission trip to Mountaintop, TN this summer. At least nine baptisms are scheduled to take place in the next few months. The children’s ministry has begun to plan activities specifically for kids, including a “peanut free Kidz Korner” where children can play games and have a snack while parents attend adult coffee hour.
The New Member Ministry Team has begun to hold bi-monthly brunches for those expressing interest in learning more about St. Barnabas or the Episcopal Church. Several outreach groups have organized, providing tutoring to needy youth, collecting materials for women starting new lives after suffering abusive relationships and sewing simple teddy bears for first responders to have on hand for children in trauma. Efforts to improve communications among members and communities are underway.
This summer, the Intentional Transformation team will hold several sessions to encourage further involvement among parishioners. The first session, titled “Eat, Pray, Love God,” featured congregational consultant Lisa Meeder Turnbull facilitating a “Find Your Spiritual Gifts” brunch event. Other sessions will focus on establishing planning tools for various ministries, enhancing communications and sustaining the church financially and spiritually. The church members now consider themselves members of a “community of encouragement,” with a renewed energy for the future.
Nancy Nolan serves as a communications liaison for St. Barnabas, Montgomery. For more information contact Nolan at the church at 513.984.8401, or firstname.lastname@example.org.