Hello everyone, and welcome to our website! As we take time to update our pages, here is my report that was submitted for the 2022 annual report. After reading it, I know that you will be excited about the way St. James continues to move forward in the year to come. Welcome 2023!!
Minister's Annual Report
Christmas is not far behind us, so we are still carrying the freshness and beauty of the Miracle with us day by day, just as light lengthens day by day. With a new year before us, everything is possible… because nothing is impossible when we walk with God!
That’s not to say that last year, we didn’t have challenges, and this year won’t have its challenges either. But we are a church that is resilient and embraces opportunities to find new ways to walk our path of faithfulness. It’s a joy to be part of a congregation that is filled with worshippers who find ways to keep our church alive!
As the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown carried on beyond 2021, still preventing all of us from being together in person, our “new” ways of connecting with one another also continued. I am so grateful to Linda Winson who has been committed to enabling our worship services to be experienced virtually by the congregation and beyond. Thank you, Linda, and Darlene Perkins who has helped Linda along the way. Thank you to Karen Kelly, who has kept our music alive, and thank you to our Office Administrator Heather Thompson who has helped hold us together!
This was a year that we slowly came back together in worship for those who felt safe, and we slowly began to follow a “new normal” as covid continued to rear its ugly head. New ways of holding our fundraising dinners and Christmas events were exciting to experience once again. Holding fellowship after our Sunday service was embraced with joy and laughter. It was even more exciting when we included light fellowship lunches! Breaking bread together at the same table felt like the pleasure of the “good old days” that we had always taken for granted before covid. I feel such delight as I watch people connect once again (or is that the Holy Spirit within that feels such delight?!)
As we began coming back together, I noticed the need to find our own roles, our personal ministry, our place in keeping SJUC running effectively once again. In came the Boards support in my request to bring in the big guns… the professionals who know how to bring our committees, our work, our church vision back to a church that is fun and faith-filled. EDGE are the consultants, and I thank Pat Dryden, Shirley King, Hilary Mallett, Joyce Feren and Linda Winson for being on the group who will help steer us throughout 2023.
During 2022, while our in-person pastoral visiting was largely suspended,visits were mainly done by phone, e-mail or text, with the occasional emergency visits in person. But do you wonder how that fits into my ministry throughout the year? Here is a snapshot for 2022…
Phone: 76 These include some visits to prepare for funeral services.
In-Person visits: 33 These include some visits to prepare for funeral services.
Internments: 3 Funerals: 31
Sadly, of these 31 funerals, three were for our own church family. Our hearts continue to go out to the families of Margaret Lester, Stewart Fisher and Lilly Webb. They are sadly missed. I also bless the community members and their families for the loss of their loved ones.
Weddings 7 All weddings were for community members.
Outreach is a big part of a minister’s activities, and I look forward to 2023 as we once again begin to feel more comfortable meeting with our community partners, like the South Simcoe United Church Cluster. What else happened in 2022 that I’ll be resuming? I continued to do worship and memorial services for those at Simcoe Manor in Beeton and for the people at Lakeside Retirement Home in Innisfil. We also reached out to the community and invited them to our Blue Christmas Service, which was hosted in partnership with Churchill/Gilford United Churches and the Innisfil Funeral Home. Our food bank & clothing drives, our Christmas support to a Ukrainian family, and our support for those out in the cold are just a few of our outreach programs that we were blessed to support.
Always looking for outreach opportunities and keeping up with fresh sermon ideas comes from lots of prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit. But it’s also important to keep the learnings ongoing and new. In 2022 I took advantage of many of the opportunities provided by Shining Waters Region as they created valuable webinars for clergy. I also enjoyed taking an online & interactive course called, Finding Wonder in Winter, and I was proud to complete my 1-year intensive Forest Therapy Guide Certificate. I look forward to bringing these, along with other training opportunities to my ministry at SJUC and in the community throughout 2023.
Yet my ministry isn’t totally dependent on these things I’ve mentioned. It is dependent on our church community of faith. We have moved forward in a time when Covid has seriously impacted other churches, to the point of closure. But not us! We have worked together and muddled through the past few years not only successfully, but with a new determination to keep growing. Sure… we still wait for some families to return, and we will welcome them with open arms the day they walk through our doors!! Come on back everyone!
But St. James has a foundation of faith that knows we do not stop and wait for anything! We are bold disciples who continue to walk in the light of Jesus. I’m excited to see where that boldness will lead us this year.
Thank you to each and every one of you for not only giving of your time, talent and treasure, but for supporting me in my efforts to minister during 2022. Your encouragement and kindness never go unrecognized!
Matthew 4:19-20 “Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to
fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him.”
May we too, be like the fishermen. In 2023 let’s go fishing!
Pastor Patricia James