A Letter from Kate Gould: Family Ministry

Dear St. Paul’s,

I am going to begin with some tough truths to help us think about the future for St. Paul’s. According to the 2022 Parochial Report results, 68% of Episcopal congregations in the United States have less than 200 members. 49.5% of active Episcopal congregants are over the age of 65. 7.7% are children 0-12. 73.5% of active Episcopal congregants are Caucasian. There are 9,869 members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. That represents a decrease of 24.3% from 2021. These statistics are sobering, but they also represent opportunity – opportunity to embrace change. Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron, would call this “fertile ground for training in being open-minded and open-hearted.”

Change takes many forms, including what “church” looks like. It is with this in mind that The Community Dinner Project was born. There are many who long for the community that traditional church brings, but for whom the traditional Sunday liturgy is a struggle. In the words of Father Richard Rohr, many feel “Christians have been worshipping Jesus’ journey instead of doing his journey.” The Community Dinner Project offers a safe, non-sectarian space for people to share a good meal, create community, and explore spirituality in an organic and open way. The idea behind The Community Dinner Project is that God is always bigger than the boxes we build for God. So, why not invite neighbors to share a meal and leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit. Do you trust her?

Change can also look like embracing what our children do in Sunday worship. Children make sense of their world through play – they are kinetic and tactile, engaging all their senses. They do not worship like adults and cannot be expected to do so. The beauty of the prayground is that it provides the space and the tools children need in order to be a part of Sunday worship. For example, the magnetic tiles you hear clicking together are being used by the children to build churches (like in the picture above) that house our small wooden altar and play figures. Running toy cars and molding play dough keeps hands busy so children can listen to the readings. The wooden ark gives children a concrete, dimensional model with which to explore the Bible story of Noah. This is how children worship. This is how children explore their spirituality and their right to worship is as fundamental as any adult’s.

The statistics I provided at the top of this letter are telling us something. They are telling us we need to embrace change. The single most used line in the Bible is “Do not be afraid.” Take refuge in that and enjoy all the beautiful possibilities change has to offer.

Meeting you where the rubber hits the road,


If you are interested in the Parochial Report statistics, you can find them here: https://generalconvention.org/research-statistics/

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4 thoughts on “A Letter from Kate Gould: Family Ministry”

  1. Next letter from Kate: suggestions for change, or how to involve concerned congregants in the process? Thanks for speaking truth, Kate!

  2. Great message, Kate. Thank you for the work you are doing with the children of the community. May we all be so open to the future.

  3. Kate: You are a blessing to our community. Beautiful message. We’re ready to help, but some of us (me) need guidance.


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