“Diversity is inviting someone to the party. Inclusion is asking them to dance.” – Unknown
Dear Friends in Grace,
I am so proud of you. So proud of us.
As I reflect back on the last 20 months, especially back to the beginning of my tenure as your Vicar, I am in awe at the distance we have already traveled together. With God’s inspiration and wisdom and help, we are growing and thriving -- in hope, in vision, in worship, and in numbers.
I am amazed by the grace with which you have embraced all kinds of changes to expand the breadth of our love and welcome. We continue to update our campus for efficiency, attractiveness, and accessibility. We are trying out new prayers in liturgy (approved by General Convention last year). We are learning new music for worship, experimenting with new ministry ideas to foster connection and outreach, and working to reorganize our staff and lay leaders to involve more and more people in the leadership and life of Grace.
We are Growing in Grace!
As we continue to move forward, this truth is becoming clear: our identity as a multicultural congregation is central to who we are and how we are growing. In our Church & School community—including church staff, teachers, parishioners, and students—people originally from more than 25 states and 25 countries (on 5 continents!) call Grace home. As individuals and families from new places make their way into our community, we lovingly embrace them and expand our tent to include who they are and what they bring. Grace is a lot like Houston – the most diverse city in the United States!
One way in which we continue to lean into our multicultural identity is in the area of language. It has been a practice over the years for us to sing music that comes from different parts of the world, written in languages from those places – Zulu, Mandarin Chinese, Latin, French, Indigenous languages, Spanish, and others.
Lately, we have been experimenting with incorporating more Spanish language in our worship from time to time, even printing a couple of worship bulletins in both English and Spanish and alternating between the two in what is spoken aloud during the liturgy. This is not an easy or comfortable experience for everybody. But to try it, and then to adjust based on our reflections together, is very consistent with who we are and what we have done in the past – seeking to break down barriers that divide us from one another, even when that barrier is represented by language differences. The barrier between Spanish and English is particularly poignant, because so much of the Spanish-speaking world is Texas’s next-door neighbor and so many Spanish-speaking people live in this city as their first destination in the United States.
I want to ask you to engage this work with hearts of love and faithfulness. Trust the process of trying different things. Trust that we will watch and listen to the results from our experiments and we will adapt. The one and only goal is this: not just welcome but full inclusion of anybody and everybody--from anywhere and everywhere--God leads into this community.
Growing in Grace.
I am excited to announce that The Rev. Alejandro Montes will be joining Grace as an Assisting Priest, along with The Rev. John Graham, The Rev. Deacon Dawn Shepler, and myself. Alejandro’s introduction is included in this edition of The Gracevine. He brings broad ministry experience, including decades of ministry as a priest, and the kind and generous heart of a pastor. We are so blessed at Grace to have a growing clergy team to help us follow the Spirit into God’s future.
With you all the way,
The Rev. Scott Painter
I serve as the Vicar of Grace. A word from our English heritage in the Episcopal Church, "Vicar" means that I serve as the priest and pastor of this congregation.