All Are Welcome
Back in my seminary days, I spent one year as a seminarian at a parish that two years before had teetered on the brink of closing its doors. Located in a solidly middle class neighborhood right next door to Cambridge Massachusetts, housing was affordable in Watertown and public transportation was readily available. But for some quirk of demography, the Armenian community decided that Watertown Mass was the place to be, so they settled there in great numbers. So great in fact that in the mile from the Cambridge-Watertown border to my Episcopal parish, I passed four enormous Armenian churches.
Attendance at the little Episcopal Church had dwindled down to less than a dozen on Sundays. Founded over a century before, this once proud church began its life as an all white parish only a few blocks away from Perkins School for the Blind where Helen Keller had trained. Perkins in fact was founded within a year or two at the same time as the Episcopal parish. Yet the two institutions never crossed paths in their mission.
Perkins had become a large institution with hundreds of students with a wide range of abilities. The Episcopal parish around the corner had never extended a welcome to the Perkins students, faculty and staff. Because the neighborhood had changed radically, that little church just about dried up and blew away.
The bishop appointed a priest-in-charge for the parish. Scouting around the neighborhood the new priest simply asked what connections existed between Perkins and the Episcopal Church which happened to be the closest church to Perkins. When told that no connection, formal or informal, had ever existed the new priest went over to visit Perkins and began a relationship that not only saved one Episcopal parish from certain doom but more importantly that visit began a relationship that brought many people into the saving embrace of Jesus Christ.
The church physical plant w ...
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