FROM THE RECTOR'S STUDY
Dear Members and Friends of St. Chrysostom’s Church & Day School,
It is a joy to give an update on the state of our parish congregation and school. I hope you will take a peek inside this report. What you will find is evidence of nothing less than God’s Spirit breathing new life into us.
In 2016 St. Chrysostom’s grew with fifty-four, new pledging families. The 9:00 AM Sunday worship attendance has grown to over one hundred people and is multi-generational in its makeup. Total Sunday attendance for all four Sunday services is nearly three hundred people. On Christmas Eve the church held three services for the first time in its history to make room for new and returning members—thereby welcoming a total of nearly one thousand people. The Children’s Choir is growing as girls and boys from the neighborhood, church, and school communities find their way to this extraordinary resource.
Thanks to the efforts of many, we are building genuine community. First-Sunday-of-the-Month Suppers are thriving. Our first Harvest Festival in October was a huge hit. The EN-VISION ST. CHRYS small group sessions (re)connected people in new and life-giving ways. The Rector’s Bible Study on Thursday mornings is booming. The Wednesday evening Covenant Group is connecting people on a deeper level rooted in study, conversation, and prayer. A new, parents’ small group on Friday nights has emerged. Sunday coffee hour is full of lively conversation. The Women of St. Chrysostom’s have forty people signed up for their weekend retreat.
St. Chrysostom’s does not simply pay lip-service to genuine hospitality rooted in Christ. Our church offers free valet parking on Sunday mornings to help manage the Chicago weather and the complexities of life. Our first floor residence houses the Abbas family who is transitioning to the United States from Syria—and who, thanks to the Church and Day School communities, is thriving. Our Day School offers many full and partial scholarships to families throughout Chicago. There’s good food and coffee in Sunday coffee hour. As a church community we are investing, intentionally and generously, in hospitality.
A Church and School for the City
St. Chrysostom’s is raising its profile in Chicago. Public concerts with world-renowned musicians and our Summer Festival of Sacred Music have let our light shine in the city. Our full-day classes and extended day programs at the Day School are attracting people from all across Chicagoland. Our new friendship with South Side Episcopal Church Messiah-St. Bart’s is emerging with gusto. Hosting scholars, theologians, and public workshops is increasing awareness of the many gifts we have to offer people in this city. Our care of people experiencing homelessness and of women experiencing abuse is something we are known for as well. Our historic 1928 carillon bells now ring out into the neighborhood at least once a week—we have one of only two working carillons in the city (the other being in Rockefeller Chapel) and attract the best carillonneurs in the Midwest.
Mission to the World
St. Chrysostom’s sustains a partnership and friendship with two Episcopal congregations, an orphanage, and a women’s safe haven—all in Southeast Mexico (Chiapas). The churches offer English classes and health classes that St. Chrysostom’s also supports. The impact is tremendous—both for us and for our friends in Mexico.
Good Stewards of Our Historic Buildings
Being good stewards of beautiful buildings that are one hundred years old takes major efforts of time, energy, and money. Thanks to the generosity of several parishioners, our church has a new air-conditioning system, new heating and cooling units, new limestone front steps, updated electrical wiring, and a new “hearing loop” system for the sanctuary so all people can participate fully in worship.
Comprehensive Campaign for Renewal
The Church and its Day School have hired The Alford Group to conduct a feasibility study for a comprehensive campaign that will renew our church and school spaces, raise the profile on all we do, and build an endowment. We are one of the largest Episcopal Churches in Chicago with the largest Episcopal preschool in the area, and we want our spaces and finances to reflect a creative and dynamic excellence that serves God’s purposes to the fullest of our abilities. At the heart of this project is our emerging sense of God’s call to us to be “A Church and School for Chicago” by making all of our spaces more missional: accessible, functional, hospitable, community-minded, beautiful, and true to our history. We have been told by our contractor friends at Bulley & Andrews that our buildings’ bones are “tired” and in need of help. To this end we have hired architecture firm Woodhouse-Tinucci to evaluate our needs and create a vision for the renewal of our spaces. In mid-February 2017 the Vestry will hear the report from The Alford Group along with the preliminary findings of Woodhouse-Tinucci—and make a decision about whether or not to pursue a comprehensive campaign. If the decision is to pursue a fund-raising campaign, the Vestry will also need to decide what the financial goal will be.
St. Chrysostom’s is deeply blessed by so many servant-leaders, from altar guild members to Sunday School teachers to office staff members to Committee members helping with property, justice-work, finances, and stewardship, to cooks for Neighbors in Need and Deborah’s Place, and on and on—I have only named a few areas. In addition to all our many leaders, I want to thank outgoing members of the Vestry George Mesires, Pradeep Shimpi, Angie Yorath, and Alex Jacobs. Their generosity of spirit through gifts of time, energy, and wisdom has built up the life of our church community in so many ways.
The Rev. Wes Smedley