Friends and Neighbors in Christ,

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

In Christ, the Church participates in God’s mission for the transformation of creation and humanity by proclaiming to all people the good news of God’s love, offering to all people the grace of God at font and table, and calling all people to discipleship in Christ. Human beings have no higher goal in life than to glorify and enjoy God now and forever, living in covenant fellowship with God and participating in God’s mission. (The Book of Order F-1.01)

Through the years, my work in parish ministry has been guided, first, by the words of Jesus and what we know as the Great Commission, and second, by what the Book of Order describes as the mission of the church. In addition to the above paragraph, the Book of Order uses six full pages to define the mission and work of Presbyterian congregations. The Book of Order states that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, that the Church is a community of faith, hope, love, and witness. The Book of Order also says the Church is called to unity, holiness, catholicity, ecumenicity, unity in diversity, and a spirit of openness to the sovereign activity of God.

Several months ago, Heather, Jack, Charlie and I enjoyed an afternoon retreat away from the church campus in order to visit, examine, discuss, and plan for the coming church year, 2014-2015. We studied the liturgical seasons and tried to provide an ecclesiastical road map that would help facilitate the smooth operation of all the moving parts of ministry that make up the community of faith of the Sea Island Presbyterian Church. As we shared with one another, we discovered that our present mission statement was fourteen years old. With the understanding that most mission statements are normally revised every ten years, it was our prayerful consensus that maybe we were a little overdue.

This effort was launched in late August with the Session Council meeting every two weeks, some Monday evenings taking two and a half hours to do our work. It was noted that the spiritual leaders of the church respect and honor the words of Jesus to go, teach and baptize in the name of the Trinity. We also recognize that every congregation in the Presbyterian Church (USA) is guided by the same mission narrative recorded in the Book of Order. What we wanted to do was explore the different ways God might be calling us to do his work within the Beaufort community and the world around us. And so we tackled the big question: What makes the call of this congregation distinct and unique?

Over the last six weeks, Howard Bayne has worked with the pastoral staff and members of the Session Council to reform and bring to life a new mission statement that will guide the work, mission and ministry of our congregation and the decision-making that supports what we do in terms of worship, Christian education, pastoral care, and outreach. We offer thanks to God for his wisdom, his help and assistance. For three successive Sundays, beginning October 12, the new mission statement will be introduced by way of liturgy (work of the people), the sermons and affirmations of faith. In the Name of Jesus Christ, we find this to be an exciting time of reformation and pray that we will continue to support one another as we do the work of the Lord with a new sense of purpose. In closing, please know we have tried to be careful and deliberate listening to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Peace and Grace,
+ Pastor Steve