What a difference a year makes! On behalf of the Canterbury Board and the Canterbury Staff I thank you for your interest and support of Canterbury’s mission and ministry. As I was thinking about what I might share, I locked on to the idea of NUMBERS. Numbers drive our lives. Recently, I filled out a questionnaire & I moved up into a new and higher age bracket–I didn’t like that number! All sorts of numbers govern our lives. The number on the scale when we weigh in; blood pressure; cholesterol; the numbers in our finances, how much we spent or saved; clergy wrestle with the number of Average Sunday Attendance. There are speed limits, calendars and clocks; vacation days and work days. Some numbers gain importance when you add a “0” or a “5”. There are sobering numbers: of lives lost; martyrs for their faith, soldiers dying in conflicts, of riots and civil unrest. This coming year we will see all sorts of numbers regarding polls and politics.
Numbers are important! At Canterbury 5 years ago the numbers were pretty dismal. Today those numbers are much improved, let me share a few…
In 2014 we did 26% more business than 2013.
In 2015 of roughly $600,000 of our business income – $183,000 is NEW–that is people that have never been to or used Canterbury before.
This one blows me away… The old website that we managed on a do it yourself web program averaged 350 page views per month. The new website since launched last Fall is averaging–wait for it–17,944 page views per month. There are other numbers I could share, but it is safe to say we are entering a new era at Canterbury.
Numbers are important, but numbers do not tell the whole story, The Canterbury Tale has a different climax in its narrative. We quantify Canterbury’s value in what happens in people’s lives when they come on this campus. We participate in and witness healing, transformation, comfort, grace, mercy, faith, hope & love. Last week this became tangible in a moment. Some people wandered into the lobby. The staff greeted them and soon discovered a woman had lost her husband, a man had lost his brother and a girl had lost her father the day before after a brief battle with cancer. They were in a whirlwind of grief and tragedy. They came looking for a place to hold a wake and memorial service; there church was booked for a month of vacation bible school. This was not business; it was Holy Spirit-led ministry to a family in need. I gave them a tour, introduced them to staff who would work with them, throughout that time their tears and even a few smiles as the pain subsided as they spoke affectionately of this cherished person in their lives. It might not seem like much but this encounter was filled with compassion and love. The Lord showed up in this moment and the mission of Canterbury shined a small but healing light in their hour of darkness. I could tell of other moments of discovery, of personal and spiritual growth, moments of connecting with God and others. We see at Canterbury the ministry of Messiah: The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, & theopening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; You can’t put that into a spread sheet!
The Canterbury staff amazes daily! They are gifted in what they do, but more so in who they are. They transform what might seem like ordinary events and gatherings into gold, silver and precious stones. I’m blessed and ever grateful for these amazing people who spend their time, energy and lives selflessly serving the Lord and our guests in love. A special thanks to all those who volunteered to make this annual dinner gathering what it is–a celebration! Last and certainly not least–for Roseddy Montgomery who coordinated this entire evening, paying attention to every detail.
We are grateful for Church of the Incarnation and their continued partnership; rejoicing in their growth, moving from mission to parish status earlier this year. For the UCF Canterbury Club–many who are serving tonight and for their presence on this campus week by week.
Recently at a gathering of Conference Center leaders from around the country, I had conversations with other executive directors; I realized how far Canterbury has come in the last few years. What resonated deeply? Canterbury is fueled and driven by its mission and ministry. In many ways we hold a sacramental ministry in that Canterbury as a place and entity mediates the presence of Christ to our guests, to the community, to the church & beyond. Canterbury is landscape of Holy Encounter.
Where do we go from here… In the year ahead will see an ecumenical gathering of leaders hoping for a making disciple makers movement in Central Florida; in September a gathering of worship leaders to hone their skills and understanding of worship in the church. There will be countless quiet moments of retreat and deepening faith. There will be opportunities for businesses and civic groups to grow, learn and gain necessary skills for all of life. As Phillip said to his brother Nathaniel; COME and SEE! Later this summer we will begin the renovation of this dining room. We’ve raised $30,000+ we need $70,000 more but we have enough to begin!
We do not do this alone, we are grateful for the many ministries and organization that are our partners. For weekly gatherings of Key Life Men’s Bible Study; to Rotary and Kiwanis holding their weekly meetings and special events; For the Diocese of Central Florida and especially for you Bishop Brewer, your involvement, guidance and investment in this work; for all who are regularly a part of the Canterbury campus; Cursillos, Clergy Days & Conference; for seminaries, schools, professionals, businesses, civic groups, churches, para-church & other non-profits organizations.
So here it comes… We need your help, your prayers, your involvement and your financial support. I am not asking you to simply write a check–I am inviting you into an essential mission changing this world one heart, one life at a time. Join us in this effort. Help us restore, renovate and grow this sacred space right in the middle of everything, this place where countless lives are impacted as they dream, discover, decide and connect with each other and with God. Commit to support Canterbury in every way you can. Support the annual fund, which allows us to open our doors wider at affordable prices for churches, individuals and groups. If you want to know what you can do, let’s talk. Some people give their skills. We have about 5-6 Eagle Scout projects a year. I have said if we could combine 10–20 of those we could build buildings! Some of you are in a position to support us financially, I have to tell you it blesses me personally when I checks arrive in the mail. Some for $10.00 some for a $1000 we’re grateful for each dollar and see it as solemn responsibility; we’re good stewards of all we receive. We count every gift as sacred. I commend to you the pledge card on your table.
I was talking with a life long friend on Friday–we both are sensing and hoping for a watershed, spiritual moment on the horizon, believing for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church, this nation & the world. I believe Canterbury can be a CHANGE AGENT in this world. By what happens on this campus the very fabric, the spiritual canvass of the culture of Central Florida can be mended with grace, truth and love. Canterbury can be Tip of the Spear. The sharp pointed part that doesn’t do all the work but, without it, the spear itself is just a blunt stick. The tip is the first to go in, the part that starts the process for all the rest to do their job. Canterbury aids people in discovering their faith, vocation and calling, It serves as the BOOT CAMP equipping to serve. Lives changed by Almighty God pouring out hope, peace, courage, faith, kindness–Canterbury as an outpost for the Kingdom of God in this world where people can know, feel, sense & touch eternity. It is a grand & epic story–help us to continue to write the Canterbury Tale!