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Giving Thanks (part two of three)

Note from Rev. John: I want to express my gratitude by giving thanks for The Falls Church Episcopal's (recent) past, present, and (near) future. I covered the (recent) past in my message last week (click here if you missed it). Today (below), I cover the present, and next week, I'll give thanks for the future

Friend of The Falls Church Episcopal, 

One of the questions asked as part of the Diocese of Virginia’s extensive “exit interview” questionnaire is “what are the top five strengths of the church?”

Having given that question some thought in preparing last week’s newsletter, I answered the question by writing, “I think ‘charisms’ is a more accurate word than ‘strengths,’ because ‘charisms’ recognizes that these characteristics (like all good things in life) are gifts -- gifts given to us from God the Holy Spirit. And so when I reflect on the top five charisms of this church, I think of:  

  • a sense of wide-open-welcome hospitality and inclusivity;

  • an "outward facing" mentality of service to the wider community;

  • a reverent-yet-not-stuffy/concise-yet-not rushed, worship style;

  • a relevant-yet-not-headline-chasing sense of dedication to social justice, and

  • an "all hands on deck," "all crew, no passengers" sense that each and every one of us is needed to fulfill our church's mission.

If someone were to ask you

“what are the strengths of The Falls Church Episcopal?"

what are the first two or three words (or phrases) that pop in your head? 

I asked that question of a few people. Here are some of their responses: 

“Authentic hospitality and invitation”

“Youth, optimism, and history”

“Rooted in tradition, yet not worshipping traditions”


“Rituals, not rules”

“A congregation willing to take risks to resource the recruitment of stellar staff” 

"Love and compassion, people! It’s where it’s at!!!!"


“Rooted in history without feeling like a museum” 

“Community, welcoming, and fun”

And -- perhaps my favorite --  

“God is love, and where true love is, you will find God there.” 

There’s an expression, “There are two gifts we can give our children: one is roots, and the other is wings.” 

When I give thanks for the present Falls Church Episcopal, I give thanks for all the above, because through those gifts, we are giving ourselves, and our children, both roots and wings: roots of a deep and rich history, and wings to take off in the new directions which God’s holy and life-giving Spirit will take this faith community.  

Thanks be to God! 

See you Sunday, 


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