Welcome to Christ Church. As the name suggests, we strive to be a place where the light of Christ is seen, his life is shared and his work is done. I would say that the following four things characterize our life as a parish:
1. A love of reverent, seemly and beautiful worship, supported by the highest standards of the Anglican musical tradition. Our spiritual life is rooted in the Eucharist and supported by a continuous pattern of morning, midday and evening prayer throughout the week.
2. A deep well of pastoral care and an affectionate community that has been established and built over many years. I am new, but the first thing that struck me about this Church was the incredible warmth and kindness of its people.
3. An absolute commitment to practical Christian service in support of Christian mission and outreach in the community, both in Washington, across the nation and overseas.
4. A comprehensive approach to Christian education for both the young and for adults. We have an excellent full time youth missioner, a team of truly gifted Sunday School teachers, a comprehensive and vigorous compliment of adult formation and education opportunities including an Adult Education Forum that addresses faith themes at a graduate level. You can see this if you look at the Adult Forum section of this website.
As we approach the celebration of our bicentenary next year these three images have, I feel, something to say about where we are as we approach this historical moment.
The Lantern Tower
The first picture focuses on Christ Church's great lantern tower. In our mind's eye we might see there a lighthouse or beacon from which a great light shines forth. From 31st and O it beams out over Georgetown and across the whole city. It can be seen from the hill of the Capitol to which many, if not all, the nations of the world refer in some way. Forbidding clouds of violence, bitterness and hate may surround us in our world and society today, but this light of faith, reason and love is not overcome by them. It draws us and humankind towards something much more powerful, kind and sane. We are the keepers of this light. It has shone for 200 years here and it falls to us to ensure it will shine for 200 more.
The Field Hospital
A strange picture to draw perhaps, but one the current Roman Catholic Pope, Francis has used as an image of the church. Since such places have a powerful resonance with me from my previous days as an Army chaplain, it strikes a chord. Here we might see Christ Church as a forward field hospital set up just a few yards only from the daily struggles of our streets and lives. Here is where we were brought once ourselves and where we found healing, strength and elements of new life. With our own wounds bound up, and sometimes only partly healed ourselves, Christ now appoints us his nurses, doctors, and medics so that the work of healing hearts and minds and lives can continue.
The third and last picture, is the unremarkable one of two hands clasped in the act of greeting. We do it every week. We shake hands at the door, at the peace, in the hall. We do it with our friends and we do it with strangers. We do it with those of like minds to us and with those with whom we profoundly disagree. Repeated again and again down months and years the handshakes become warmer and are exchanged with more and more people until all are greeted and all are known or, at least, becoming known. These are the same hands we lift up to receive the bread of life at the altar each week and, in this, they show our hearts and minds the way.
What binds us here goes beyond the differences between us, beyond race or class or gender or politics or money or intellect or all the thousand other ways that distinguish us, one from another. Our hands know the priority of grace and so our hearts and minds are able to learn it also. If we all receive the life of Christ in our hands each week and seek to do his will, then we are already brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers and, of course, always and forever, children of the same Father. In this, we share a bond that makes all our differences secondary.
So, if asked if I can see a vision or a Godly hope for Christ Church, these images are what I would point to. First and foremost, however, all my hope is that we can continue the excellent and high levels of pastoral care, teaching and worship that my predecessors, Stuart Kenworthy and Sanford Garner and all those that came before them have established and that our two outstanding Rector's Assistants, Kristen Hawley and Elizabeth Keeler have administered so well through this long interregnum.
So, a very warm welcome to you from me as a Rector who is just as new as you are! Christ Church, Georgetown is a unique and vibrant congregation. Come and see for yourself. I know you will find great warmth in its people, real strength in the work here and a profound sense of the life and presence of the risen Christ in our worship. The bicentenary makes this a very exciting time and we will be celebrating a lot! Even more importantly we will be laying the foundations for the next 200 years of faith, reason and love that already are, and will continue to be at the heart of the life of this church. A church that is Christ's in name and his indeed.