St. Anne’s Spiritual Life Narrative


  1. Describe a moment in your worshiping community’s recent ministry which you recognize as one of success and fulfillment.

In 2014, the Vacation Bible School was expanded into a summer camp for 4 to14 year olds. A planning team worked with a professional naturalist to design the camp themes and activities. “St. Anne’s Nature Camp: All God’s Critters” had half-day and full-day options including two evening events that included families.

Positive results included: Youth and adult volunteers working effectively together. The camp attracted campers and families from the surrounding neighborhoods to the point we had a waiting list as all slots were filled. The changes in format were well received by all.

The Wildlands Conservancy provided live animals for the camp and a nature walk. The coordination and integration of bible stories with nature education and activities engaged the campers in creative, appealing, and age appropriate ways.

Based on this experience, the planning team implemented improvements for 2015 including Counselors In Training (CIT). There were seven CITs with ages from 12-15. “St. Anne’s Science Camp: Discovering God’s Miracles” was the follow up in 2015 with most of the 50 campers being full-day participants.

  1. Describe your liturgical style and practice. If your community provides more than one type of worship service, please describe all.

Our liturgical life at St. Anne’s community of faith is spiritual, prayerful, relaxed, and relational in its style and practice as well as in its normal relationships and activities.

We have two Sunday Eucharist services each week consisting of an early morning, Rite 2, contemplative in style with no music or hymns and a late morning  Eucharist service consisting of Rite 2, music with congregation and choir singing. Music is based on the liturgical season with a blend of contemporary and traditional. Additionally once a month there is a Sunday Family Eucharist held in a family friendly environment with creative and interactive sermon and music. This service is about 30 minutes. .

Mid-week service is celebrated on Wednesday morning rotating  the celebration of the Eucharist (Rite 2) and Morning Prayer.

  1. How do you practice incorporating others in ministry?

“Renewing Our Ministries in the Spirit.”  was a review and reflection we did on the meaning, value and purpose of our ministry.  Through dialog and prayer we formulated guidelines that continue to serve as guide posts for all of our ministries.   We have conducted seminars to assist interested parishioners to identify their personal gifts for ministry.

Every year we publish a Ministries Opportunities booklet and invite parishioners to sign up for ministries they choose for the coming year.  A Ministry Festival or similar event is sponsored annually as an additional way to encourage participation and sign ups.

The Newcomers Dinner and Social allows new parishioners to learn more about our ministries and an opportunity to volunteer their talents and time. Printed and verbal announcements are made weekly to keep the congregation informed on the needs and activities of the Parish Teams. We find that personal invitations are frequently the most effective means to involve our parishioners.

  1. As a worshiping community, how do you care for your spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being?

The rector and the assisting priest who have training in spirituality offer individual spiritual direction, conduct prayer groups.  Taize services have been celebrated in the past.  A lay person who is trained in spiritual direction offers individual spiritual direction and group spiritual direction.  Currently two groups (3-5 people) meet for group spiritual direction.

The Parish Nurses provide advocacy and medical information for parishioners.  One of the parish nurses writes a weekly column that is published in the Sunday bulletin and included in the weekly email of announcements to parishioners.  “Nurses Notes” presents useful, medical information.

The Adult Forums on Sunday mornings from September to May offer a variety of seminars that address spiritual and emotional issues.  The latest offering was a four week series on forgiveness.  A group of 12 to 15 people meet weekly for bible study from September to June.

There are three community wellness programs held at St. Anne’s: Weight Watchers, Begin Yoga, and Art of Living.  The certified instructor for Begin Yoga integrates spiritual and physical well-being into her classes.  The Art of Living is a Hindu meditation group open to the community.

  1. Describe your worshiping community’s involvement in either the wider Church or geographic region/

Members of St. Anne’s have served and are serving on diocesan committees like the Standing Committee, Diocesan Council, Incorporated Trustees, Stewardship Commission, Commission on Ministry, Board of Disciples, Diocesan Personnel Committee and Evangelical Commission.

St. Anne’s Church belongs to and actively supports the Lehigh Valley Conference of Churches.  We have also sponsored and supported joint Lenten programs with four other churches in the area.  New Beginnings Here and Now Church, an evangelical congregation, uses St. Anne’s church for both Sunday worship and weekly bible study.  New Beginnings and St Anne’s have cooperated in outreach projects.

The Outreach Team promotes projects that reach out to people and organizations in need.  The projects include both financial support and hands-on ministry.  Some of these projects are Daybreak Meals, Crop Walk, Salvation Army, Wounded Warrior Project, New Bethany Ministries, Jefferson Elementary School, Church World Services, United Thank Offering, Second Harvest Food Bank and Out of the Darkness walk for suicide awareness and prevention sponsored by Kutztown University clinical services.

  1. How do you engage in pastoral care for those beyond your worshiping community?

Five local nursing facilities are visited once a month to conduct a worship service and visitation of residents.  This ministry to the elderly cares for people from different religious backgrounds.  A fuller explanation of this ministry is described in question 7.

There are at least 20-45 parishioners who volunteer with Meals on Wheels, a Bread Run, the Association for the Blind, and the Miller Blood Bank.

Begin Yoga, Art of Living, and Weight Watchers as previously noted meet regularly at St. Anne’s and primarily serve the community population.

  1. Tell about a ministry that your worshiping community has initiated in the past five years. Who can be contacted about this?

Ministry to the Elderly:  Deacon Bernice Reichard, a retired nurse, initiated and coordinates the spiritual and pastoral visitation to five assisted nursing facilities.  This is an outreach ministry to provide spiritual enrichment to the residents and staff.  Once a month Deacon Bernice and/or Eucharistic Visitors celebrate a communion service and spend time with the residents. Other parishioners also join them to interact with the residents.

Ministry Partnership with Everlasting Life Ministries (E.L.M.):   E.L.M. ministers to the hurt and abandoned in the inner cities of the Lehigh Valley.  Annually the faith community of St. Anne’s provides and cooks turkeys at Thanksgiving to be shared with families in need and annually conducts a food drive to assist ELM’s food bank that serves more than 800 families per month without any government assistance.  The most recent food drive provided 1,213 pounds of food.  The baseline need was 550 pounds of food and an ultimate goal of 1,100 pounds.

Pastor Gus Al Khal
Director of Everlasting Life Ministries
Base of operations is at Bethany E.C. Church

  1. How are you preparing yourself for the Church of the future?

For some time now we have been looking at and working to make changes and improvements in two specific areas. First being to update and make more relevant all facets of our Christian Formation program. Most specifically the children and youth portions of that program. In our efforts to grow in numbers and resources our overall Christian Formation program will be key to attracting new members especially families. While our current pastor and senior warden have been working with others on this transformation we hope to take advantage of  the expertise of our interim pastor, Nancy Packard in this area as we work to make the appropriate changes. The second area of focus is to make ourselves better know and more relevant  in the community. Our immediate efforts in this area have been in growing our Outreach into the community through all of our Ministry Teams. Looking at the Outreach Team section of our web page you will find numerous ongoing programs as well as miscellaneous projects and financial support that are and will make us more visible to the community.

  1. What is your practice of stewardship and how does it shape the life of your worshiping community?

For more than a 15 years we have followed the Herb Miller New Consecration Sunday Stewardship program for our current treasure needs.  In addition we have a very successful St. Matthew Society program for Future Funding of the of the church. There are XX members/families who have provided for future generations.

For the Stewardship of time and talent we use a combination of annual processes. We print and distribute an “Available Ministries” sign up booklet and have used various forms of a ministry fair annually. We also communicate verbally, via the website and in various written forms with the parish and individuals to encourage participation.

The result our efforts has been a very generous and giving faith community that is spiritually focused on the many ministries we participate in. These ministries impact not only our own community but many external individuals and organizations as previously described.

  1. What is your worshiping community’s experience of conflict? And how have you addressed it?

 Over the years the annual Convocation meeting raised a number of questions that never seemed to get answered to the satisfaction of some of our congregation. At the meeting the treasurer presented the budget and answered questions while the congregation tried to follow the presentation using hand held spreadsheets. The reality was a lack of ability for some to actually follow the presentation and understand.

The Stewardship Team had reviewed the potential of a more descriptive “Narrative Budget” for several years. After presenting the idea to Vestry and Finance, a Narrative Budget was introduced in 2014 (available to be viewed on this website). This budget presentation involves team reports, descriptive pictures and financial information presented in pie charts. The end result has been a product that is much easier to review and digest. In the first year it greatly reduced the level of confusion. This year we will again use a Narrative Budget and while we anticipate continued success we will monitor the acceptance and adjust as needed.

  1. What is your experience leading/addressing change in the church? When was it done well?  When has it gone poorly?  And what did you learn?

In recent years changes in worship have been instituted based on feedback from the congregation including a “Family Worship Service” with a positive response.

In the past years we have experienced changes in staffing and structure resulting from various issues including the financial downturn. The changes were at times clumsy and awkward with hurt to a small degree in the congregation. Through communication, prayer and faith the impact was minimized. The most significant of the changes was to our Christian Formation Ministries. The program was taken over by our assisting priest who later went part-time and then retired. We decided on a CF Director and found a wonderfully qualified person to fill the position. Progress was made but that person followed her spouse who took a position in Washington DC. She tried working long distance but eventually decided to continue her education in DC and had to leave our position.

The Vestry is working on a complete rework of our CF program to be instituted this fall.  Our retiring pastor along with our interim priest, who has significant CF background, along with some key parishioners are working to move us forward. With the efforts, prayers and faith of our congregation we will find our way to an enriching Christian Formation Ministry.

  1. Please provide words describing the gifts and skills essential to the future leaders of your worshiping community.  (Use no more than four descriptions made up of one or two-words each. For example: administration, asset management, preaching, pastoral care).

Passionate spirituality
Life related sermons
Multi-generational appeal
Christian Formation