The parish is where the Church lives. Parishes are communities formed by individuals of faith, of action, and of hope. These communities exist in the real world and often are housed in buildings and institutions that stand as symbols of the continuing life of the Christian community. The parish is where the Gospel is proclaimed and celebrated, where disciples are formed in faith and sent out to renew the earth. Parishes are the home of the Christian community; they form the heart and the hearth of the Church. Parishes are where God’s people meet Jesus in word and sacrament and come in touch with the source of the Church’s life – Jesus Christ the Lord. Community Life fosters a spirit of unity among all the individual families within our larger parish family. Whenever we encourage an ongoing spirit of fellowship, friendship and service, we work to build up the Body of Christ.
The geographical bounds of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church encompass the entire county of Lebanon, including the City of Lebanon, several incorporated municipalities, and many more unincorporated civil communities. Within its sphere of influence, St. Luke’s counts several public school districts and private schools, institutions of higher learning and even a continuing Chautauqua institute. Unlike the neighborhood parishes that were more common a century ago, the congregation that composes a modern parish does not share the same small geographical area, the same ethnic makeup, the same economic base, or any of the other natural bonds that existed in those small communities.
With parishioners of all economic backgrounds, educational levels and ethnic and national origins, St. Luke’s must make a special effort to create an appropriate sense of fellowship and community, which is the lifeblood of any church. Ultimately, this work is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our efforts in the arena of our common life act as a conduit for the work of the Spirit in linking us together in the love of Christ. The Parish has set the following goals regarding Our Common Life:
Long Range Goals
- The parish will establish intentional communities in at least six key geographical areas of the parish. (These may include but are not limited to: Annville/Cleona, Myerstown, Jonestown, Mt. Gretna, Cornwall/Cornwall Manor, and Palmyra).
- The parish will have completed a full, professional assessment of its buildings including condition, accessibility, needed maintenance routines, and a community based valuation.
- The parish will assess the feasibility of a multi-year capital campaign focused on long-range plans for physical assets and future mission and ministry needs.
- The parish will underwrite its general fund (operating budget) by at least 80% by funds excluding revenues from unrestricted and restricted investment funds (informally termed our endowment).
Short Range Goals:
- The parish will convene a task group to design and plan the addition of two fully accessible unisex restrooms in the parish hall.
- The parish will convene a task group to design modifications to provide for full accessibility in the worship space.
- The parish will submit a grant request to the Society of the Episcopal Church for the Advancement of Christianity in Pennsylvania to underwrite accessibility modifications in the parish hall and in worship space.
- The parish will engage with Partners for Sacred Spaces (Philadelphia, PA) to help St. Luke’s leverage existing and new resources, solidify its continued relevance in our community, and ensure our sustainability.
- The parish will institute a series of local fellowship/social events in key population centers to consolidate its presence in those communities (e.g. “Salt Shaker Dinners”).
- The parish will fully integrate appropriate forms of social media to engage the wider community in attaining its articulated outcomes in the arena of our common life.