Stewardship of the Land
You have often heard me say that we at St. John’s want to be good stewards of all of God’s blessings. Over 60 years ago, the Gracy Family gifted our congregation and the diocese the land to build our church buildings. The original church building has been expanded four times and a new sanctuary was built in 2004.
The community garden and the labyrinth are the two additions to the land south of our parking lot. This part of our property has used as a baseball field and a soccer field. When the new sanctuary was built the zoning for this part of our property was changed. The City of Austin required that the area be zoned a water retention pond. This designation limits how this land can be developed.
In the spring of this year, the neighborhood association invited St. John’s to a meeting with the Austin’s Park and Recreation Department. The neighborhood association called the meeting because they want the City to build more park space in the neighborhood. After the meeting, the City contacted St. John’s because they wanted to know if we would be interested in selling the vacant land on our property.
In the Episcopal Church the property is owned by the Diocese. St. John’s cannot buy or sell property without the Diocese permission. The Diocese has informed us that we can continue the conversation with the City if St. John’s believes that our mission would be served by partnering with the City to develop the land into park space.
The vestry working through the Growth Action Team has begun conversations about what we can do with this vacant land. There will also be follow up meetings with the City to learn more about a potential partnership. The vestry wants to be good stewards of the blessings from God. The land south of our property has been undeveloped for many years. The invitation from the neighborhood association has opened up possibilities for our vacant land. It has created the space to begin asking questions about our stewardship of this land: What is the best use of this land so that it can bear fruit for our congregation and for the community that we serve? Who should we partner with to make our dream a reality?
I want to emphasize that no decisions have been made. We are beginning the conversation with each other to imagine what our vacant land can grow into. There are limitations to how this land can be developed, but with God’s help we can steward this land to be fruitful for God’s kingdom.
Some of you have already participated in one of the two conversations we have held on the last two Sundays. There will be another conversation session on Monday, December 12 at 7pm on zoom click here . Please join in the conversation to imagine what we can do with God’s gift, and let me know if you are interested in being part of the team that works on this important project.
I am excited to see what we can build together!