As we look forward to the next one hundred fifty years, any attempt to predict the future is difficult, but we may be encouraged by the recent work of some authors writing about the Episcopal Church. Many of us in the river parishes became familiar with Kay Collier McLaughlin’s book “Big Lessons from Little Places” when she joined us for a workshop here in 2016. Her teaching clearly stresses the importance of small churches as outlined in the following passage: “In a big world, the small church has remained intimate. In a fast world, the small church has remained steady. In an expensive world, the small church has remained plain. In a complex world, the small church has remained simple. In a rational world, the small church has retained feelings. In a mobile world, the small church has been an anchor. In an anonymous world, the small church calls us by name. If Christ Church can retain these important qualities of the small congregation as we move forward into the 21st Century, our survival should be secure. We are fortunate to be situated in a thriving community, which is moving steadily forward. With the opening of the Thousand Islands Harbor Hotel, the establishment of many new businesses, and the growth of the Thousand Islands Arts Center with the addition of many new and promising artists in the community, it seems likely that our church may share in this rebirth of interest in Clayton. As our village continues to be an attractive community for young and old alike, but particularly for those of retirement age, it seems quite likely that Christ Church will continue to be selected as a place of worship for people of faith. In his book “My Church is not Dying -- Episcopalians in the 21st Century”, Greg Garrett writes: “We are bound in fellowship by Baptism and the Eucharist - not by common assent to specific theological formulae or submission to some institution empowered to tell us what is and is not acceptable belief. The question we ask of those who come through our doors is not “Do you believe what we believe?” It is “Would you like to join us sinners as we pray and break bread before our Lord together?” Relationship is, then, the ultimate result of a balanced Anglican spirituality.” This kind of open, accepting, welcoming theology may serve as a guarantee for the future survival of not only Christ Church, Clayton, but for all Episcopalians worldwide and for the Anglican Communion. Members and friends of Christ Church, stepping up and working together for the past 150 years have made possible this celebration in 2018. This same cooperation and fellowship must continue if we desire a lasting future for our community of faith.


-Shirley Carpenter

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