Core Element: Outreach (Mercy Works)

Outreach is not merely social work done in the name of the Church. In considering our priorities in Christian outreach, we must acknowledge that our role in performing these works is to create the conditions in which others may come to know and see God alive in us. It is God that calls people into relationship with God – the essence of being a disciple. Once we create the right conditions by going out, by showing compassion, and by forming intimate relationships with one another and with others, we step back and let God do God’s work on God’s terms. To this end, all our outreach activities arise within the framework of what is known as servant-discipleship and servant-leadership. This forms our perspective on outreach going forward and we have established the following goals:

Organizational transformation

Long range Goals 

  • We will strengthen existing efforts and intentionally seek to address the systemic causes of hunger and homelessness and other forms of poverty in our community.
  • We will strive to ground all outreach efforts in prayer and study to discourage the tendency to reduce social justice and service efforts to “social work” and to encourage spiritual growth and development through servant-discipleship.

Short range Goals 

  • The parish will continue to reimagine “outreach” in the context of the traditional categories of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy by repackaging efforts under the banner Mercy Works.
  • The parish will work toward an “Outreach Summit” wherein program stakeholders will join in common reflection to provide a strategic approach to all efforts including but not limited to a better resourcing for individual efforts. This summit meeting will use appropriate means to articulate specific outcomes to guide the development of the parish’s outreach efforts (Mercy Works).
  • The parish will move to integrate ecumenical cooperation and sharing into its organization and programs by:
    • Recruiting and training youth and young adults to play leadership roles in social justice efforts;
    • Planning for leadership succession by recruiting delegates for and possible board leadership in Lebanon County Christian Ministries (LCCM) and the activities of the Lebanon Ministerium.
  • The parish will fully integrate appropriate forms of social media to engage the wider community in attaining its articulated outcomes in the arena of outreach.  

Community Based Pastoral Care

A Vestry approved Pastoral Care Policy articulates our understanding of what pastoral care entails: “Pastoral care is Christians caring for other Christians through all circumstances of life and helping them come to a deeper awareness of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ as one who cares for them as a “shepherd cares for the sheep.” This care is extended also to those who are not Christians as a sign of God’s love for them in the hope that they will be drawn to Christ. Care is above all shown through friendship, listening, emotional help, and the study of God’s Word.”

Long Range Goal

  • The parish will make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our faith community by grounding ourselves in a principled determination to transcend selfishness in our relationships with one another and with those we encounter in the world.

Short range Goals

  • The parish will establish a Lazarus Care Group (or another appropriate name) that will undertake systematic care for those who are grieving significant loss, including but not limited to the care of those grieving because of death among immediate or extended family/friends. The Parish will establish a Liturgical team (a team of trained volunteers to assist in the celebration of funeral rites in the parish) as well as a Personal care team (a team of trained volunteers to assist in meeting the immediate needs of those engaged in the grieving process and provide follow-up care as needed).
  • The parish will continue to recruit individuals to act as Lay Eucharistic Visitors in the parish and provide the training and resources necessary to establish a program of bi-weekly sacramental visitation to the homebound.
  • The parish will establish a faith-based support group for those providing care and support to family members with chronic debilitating diseases (including but not limited to dementia).
  • The parish will establish appropriate support for those contemplating marriage.
  • The parish will establish a network of support among families with young children and other families experiencing significant transition issues.

Increasing Diversity 

A common definition of “diversity” and “inclusion” is needed. Diversity means all the ways we differ. Some of these differences we are born with and cannot change (for example, race or ethnic origin). Anything that makes us unique is part of this diversity. Inclusion, on the other hand, involves bringing together and harnessing the forces and resources that arise from this diversity in a way that is beneficial. Inclusion puts the concept and practice of diversity into action. Communities need both diversity and inclusion to be successful.

Long Range Goal  

  • The parish will create an environment of involvement, respect, and connection where the richness of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives are respected are harnessed to enhance the richness of our experience of faith in Christ.

Short range Goals 

  • The parish will undertake a comprehensive program of antiracism training by employing existing resources offered by the Diocese of Bethlehem, The Stevenson School for Ministry, and The Episcopal Church.
  • The Parish will undertake a comprehensive study of its census and established an inventory of spiritual/practical gifts and talents available within the parish community.
  • The parish will explore possible networking/joint project opportunities with members of the Latino/Latina community in the greater Lebanon area.