200 years: enough time to get in good trouble

Published 5:07 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2022

2022 marks the 200th Anniversary of Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church.  By the way, we aren’t the only parish celebrating a bicentennial. It’s a banner year for a great many churches in Washington. But, back to Saint Peter’s. In the grand scheme of things, 200 years is a comically small amount of time when compared with the billions of years of existence.  But time isn’t experienced so quickly, and thus our 200 years stand as pretty awesome testimony to the folks who have gone before us and made it possible for us to be here right now. Decisions made by people sitting 200 years ago near my very office still affect my everyday life as the pastor of St. Peter’s.  It’s a humbling feeling, and a task not taken lightly.

200 years is enough time to get into some ‘good trouble’. And by that, I mean 200 years of a Church that has been trying to follow Jesus of Nazareth as faithfully as possible.  It’s been 200 years of loving service to a town that has seen fire, famine, and war! It’s been 200 years of trying to be the best neighbor possible to all in our wonderful town.

We haven’t always gotten it right, though.  For every success Saint Peter’s has had over the past two centuries, there’s a failure right alongside of it. As a gathering of people from all walks of life, who bring all sorts of brokenness into the room, we are bound to get things wrong in our journey of loving Washington.  I know these next words won’t mean much, but maybe they’ll mean something enough for somebody: to all those who have ever felt hurt, unwelcomed, or excluded by Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church, I offer my sincerest apology.

However, as a relative newcomer, I can have a perspective about this congregation that’s different than most.  When I first met the hiring committee at Saint Peter’s, I couldn’t believe how self-aware the parish was about some of its flaws and shortcomings.  They didn’t hide the parts of our story they didn’t like.  They placed them right alongside all the joyful things about Saint Peter’s worth celebrating.

More than that was their commitment to growth and learning.  Here was a group of people expressing a well-articulated desire to grow further into a congregation that is a haven for all God’s children in Washington and surrounding areas.

In all my parish interviews, I’ve never had such an honest time of questions and answers.  That’s what I love the most about Saint Peter’s. We recognize that the failures of our past don’t define us, nor do the successes of the past or the present keep us from a better future.  We are a parish with 200 years behind us, and, God-willing, at least 200 more! In our celebrations, we are not just celebrating a historical past, we are celebrating how God is making history in and through us.

It’s a true blessing to be able to serve Washington and the surrounding areas.  As we are looking forward to the next 200 years, if you can think of any ways that we can be better neighbors and members of the community, let us know.  We are here for you, and nothings going to ever change that!

Chris Adams is the Rector at St. Peter’s church in Washington.