St. Monica’s has always had outside groups use our facilities, such as New Horizons, Heavenly Day Preschool, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alanon, BNI, musical groups, and others. Last fall with the blessing of the vestry, we began to have more groups and individuals come and use our facilities, including Full Steam Ahead (an afterschool program), and several private music teachers who often support our own music ministry, and Feed Thy Neighbor. And as we open our church up to the community, we are reaping wonderful rewards.
- St. Monica’s is now more visible. We are not a closed church. People associate us with involvement and love of the community. In fact, we have been in two local television news programs, and we have been in the paper for our connection to Feed Thy Neighbor. One person commented to me that by opening ourselves up to Feed Thy Neighbor, our church is “doing what it is supposed to do, by feeding people.”
- We have more connections. More people come to know us, and we come to know them.
- We develop social capital, which helps us do whatever we may be called to do in Naples.
- We offer a ministry of hospitality. Now, hundreds of people are fed homemade meals, preschool children are nurtured in faith and learning, elementary-age children learn music and science, and people heal from addictions.
- We gain needed income. We will receive over $72,000 in rental income for the year 2022 and even more in 2023. This goes a long way toward covering our building expenses and meeting our budget of $500,000.
By opening ourselves, we gain so much including ways to grow. We can grow in how we work with other groups. We can grow in being flexible. We can grow by getting to know others. We can grow by offering personal hospitality through smiles and warm welcomes.
Of course, any change has the potential for challenges and disagreement. Please do not hesitate to contact me or a vestry member to talk about any concerns you may have.
Peace and grace,
Fr. Jonathan Evans