Fr. Douglas Johnson, priest in charge of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Independence, reports that his congregation recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of their founding. The big day was Sept. 3. St. Michael’s feast day is generally observed throughout the wider church on Sept. 29 each year, but in striving to be faithful to remembering the anniversary of the actual date of the first worship service at St. Michael’s (Sept. 3, 1967), our St. Michael’s feast day was transferred to Sept. 3.
It was a grand day. We invited folks far and wide – really anyone who had ever been touched by the life, history, and ministry of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. We invited former clergy, we prayed for clergy and former parishioners alike who have had their heavenly birthday and entered into larger life. The church was full and each person there was loving and praising the Lord of Life.
Fr. Johnson reported that St. Michael’s wanted this to just not be another day in their life, but rather a day in which they could strive to attract both former and potentially new members. The celebration was a day to remember our patron saint, Michael, but also to give thanks for the life, history, witness, and ministry of this community of faith as it has offered itself to the work of God down through the years.
We wanted everyone to think of this as a kind of “Reunion Sunday.” We wanted everyone who was currently an active part of St. Michael’s or had been in the past or who would like to be in the future to come and join us in our celebration. We especially wanted to welcome any who had been baptized, confirmed, or married through the ministry of St. Michael’s.
We had lots of pictures and videos giving a rather living description of the life of St. Michael’s throughout the last fifty years. They showed us praying together, laughing together, learning together, praising God together. Many pictures as well showed our living ministry in our food and necessity pantries which are very active in the Independence community and are one of our most vital outreach ministries. Fr. Johnson comments that he is amazed at the amount of work this small group of people do – more outreach happening here he says than in most congregations three or four times their size.
Following our very lively worship, we had a barbecue dinner under a tent in our back yard on the church grounds – all catered by a loving and grateful God. The day was certainly a time of God’s grace, hope, and vision for our small church as we continue in our mission to win souls for Christ. Many thanks to our 50th Anniversary Committee who worked so wonderfully and with such loving devotion to make our day such a great day of offering to the Lord.