2024 Address to the Annual Meeting

The Rev. Jedediah Fox delivered this address to the 2024 Annual Meeting of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer on January 21, 2024. The text following the video is very slightly edited to improve reading.

The Rev. Jedediah Fox, Rector: Now it’s time for the Rector’s Address. I always try in the Rector’s Address to look back and forward at the same time, or at least one after the other. I haven’t quite managed to be in two places at once, much as my child tries to train me in it.

2023 has been the year that I’ve come to think of as the year of the beginning of the new normal.

After the great upheavals of 2020 and 2021, and the conclusion of those upheavals to a certain extent in 2022, both in the greater societal milieu and in our church, 2023 was, for the most part, a time when we began to sort of try to get our feet under us to understand what it meant to be the church again: a church that gathers as we used to before 2020 in person in a place with heat. But also, that accommodates people who don’t want to be here in person but want to be a part of this community. The church writ larger than it was before the pandemic, but also for us and for many, many churches writ smaller.

In 2023, our average Sunday attendance, the average throughout the year of how many people would come, be a part of Redeemer in our in- person gatherings, was 49 people per Sunday. Put it in context before the pandemic, for many, many years, we averaged 76 people per Sunday.

2023 was the year of living into the new normal.

In March, we had brothers and sisters join us. As the Ethiopian church began to rent space from us across the way, and that again was asked us to live into a new normal, a normal in which much of the building that had been our church home for the Church of the Redeemer in the night throughout the 1950s was no longer used by us. But it was rented out by others who also began to worship God in spirit and in truth alongside us, sometimes literally. And that was both wonderful, if you’ve ever walked in on Sunday and had the smell of injera and curry and chai hit you bodily in the face, it’s a wonderful feeling, but also challenging.

They’re a lovely congregation and they have interesting ideas about what parking looks like, for example. But we have learned to live into a new normal in which we share what the resources we have with people, with God’s people around us.

We lived into a new normal in 2023 of what it meant to have this building. This beloved barn, if you will, that is in many ways the same as it was in 1964 when we opened the doors, and in other ways continues to…

If I say showing its age, it seems pejorative.

…gather patina, some of which is lovely and some of which needs addressing. We replaced the roof over our narthex in the entryway in places where it had issues with water coming in and rotting out the roof. That was fixed and a new roof was put on to make sure that that doesn’t happen again, so that narthex can last for another 60 years, we hope and pray.

And in 2023, we got to have a whole year of having an intern in Teresa Newell. And more than that, at the very end of the year, we got to have her as a deacon. The first time in my time here that we have had a deacon. And I for one, I’m very grateful to have her among us.

If 2023 was the year of living in to the new normal of discerning where God has put us, where God has planted our feet in this moment. I think that 2024 is maybe the year where we must discern where God is then calling us to begin to walk. Redeemer like many, many, many churches in [the Episcopal Diocese of] Olympia, in the Episcopal Church, in the United States, in the world, in all of the body of Christ, is not the same church that it was before the pandemic, but it’s still called by God to faith and to faithful action.

And what that looks like is what we must discern this year.

In the coming year, there will undoubtedly, as there is every year, be challenges that we will have to face. Some of them may come from our beloved but patinaed barn, as they have in past years. Particularly the last three or so. But we have many gifts to exercise as well, many assets to bring to bear many treasures that God has given us for the use of the church in the building up of the body of Christ.

And it is our job to discern how best to use them to tell people the kingdom of God is at hand. Believe in the good news.

One of the ways in which we will do that, I hope, is that—and you those of you who are eagle eyed in looking at the budget will have noticed way down at the bottom of the expenses—is to begin a conversation with some consultants about how we might move forward. We’re hoping to be in contact with the same people we were in contact with as the pandemic began, the Vandersall Collective. For people to help us discern how to use what God has given us to further the mission of God in this place. How do we be God’s hands in this community? How do we use what we have to do that better? That’s what I hope they will help us discern.

I believe that God has a plan, has a, has a need for us, the Church of the Redeemer, in this place, in this time. And our work this year is to discern what that is. And now that we have our feet planted to begin to take the first step toward accomplishing it.

It might be a big step, a giant first step like my kid does when they walk over a crack because they’re afraid it’s going to jump out and swallow them up.

And it might be the kind of step that I first step that I take after I’ve been playing on the floor with my kid for an hour and a half. And my leg is a little bit creaky, and I can manage about four inches in that first step.

It might be somewhere in between those two.

But this year I pray for God’s presence, as I always do, that God might be with us as we discern where we might be with Jesus in this time, in this place, because the kingdom of God is near, right in front of us, and we can be in it.

That’s the first step.

The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer: Worshiping God, living in community, reaching out to the world.

Church of the Redeemer

Church of the Redeemer: Worshiping God, living in community, and reaching out to the world around us. We are an Episcopal Church serving north King County and south Snohomish County, Washington. As you travel your road, go with friends walking the way of Jesus at Redeemer.

Church of the Redeemer is at 6210 Northeast 181st Street in Kenmore, Washington. The campus is a short distance north of Bothell Way, near the Burke-Gilman Trail. The entrance looks like a gravel driveway. The campus is larger on the inside than it is on the outside. And we managed to hide a large building on the side of a hill that is not easily seen from the street.

The Episcopal Church welcomes you.