“On the Edge and On the Road”


altarUpdate: The posters listing out priority choices for the months ahead are still available for your viewing and awaiting your input. Please put as many sticky dots as you would like on the items you think need our attention sooner than later. If you would like to volunteer to help, use a post it to include your name.


If you were with us on Church for All Saints Sunday (3 November 2013) you heard me characterize Emmanuel Church as both “on the Edge” and “on the Road.” This comes at least in part from where we sit in the geography of Bel Air. Other congregations chose sites closer to the heart of downtown — though, interestingly, they do not survive as churches. Instead, the six prominent business leaders who founded our congregation chose a site for Emmanuel that ended up being on the edge: closer to the noisy, busy Ma & Pa railroad, nearer to “Frogtown,” and decidedly more accessible to Bel Aireans who lived “on the other side of the tracks.”

At the same time, we are “on the road,” in both a passive and an active sense. There are a couple of pictures of Emmanuel from 70 or 80 years ago which clearly show the road sign sitting next to the Broadway tower entrance indicating that Philadelphia was 91 miles away. We are “on the road” to other exciting places, Baltimore and Washington to the south, Philadelphia, New York and Boston to the north. Meanwhile, there are significant clues visible today that Emmanuel has been a leader in progressive Church movements, from the “radical” Bible translation quoted in our stained glass windows to the early decision to replace its East-facing altar with a free standing one.

CATNeither of these is accidental, but come instead from conscious decisions about where we need to be and where we need to be going. It is now our turn to make decisions. The Congregational Assessment Tool survey that many of you filled out is a primary source of data. You can find the full results of that survey here. Vital Signs-Emmanuel Episcopal Bel Air MD

But data from a survey is only one component in the creation of a plan that will help us determine where we are and where we are going. So for nine months a hard-working task force of Emmanuel parishioners — under the leadership of Sandy Cormack — has taken that data and worked it into a plan. Goals that have been identified as important have been carefully weighed and evaluated and grouped with other goals to give us a picture of what we would like to see Emmanuel look like in the near future. The PowerPoint presentation that outlines these goals is here. Emmanuel Strategy rev 1 Oct 13

We hope that you will “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them” (to quote a Collect we will pray in just a couple of weeks) so that they may inspire you to take a part in the plan and help us all become what God is calling us to be and move along the path that God has set before us.

Faithfully Yours,

The Rev’d Canon Dr. Mark Gatza, Rector


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