Celebrating Some New Beginnings
Posted January 6, 2021
Even as COVID continues to challenge all of us emotionally, spiritually and institutionally, I am reminded of some signs of new life here at St. Martin's which give me hope and inspiration. Through the Fall, our new LIFT Liturgy at 9 a.m. grew steadily and eventually reached a peak attendance of 55 people. Considering that its predecessor service often had one or two families present during the first year of COVID this is a remarkable sign of the Holy Spirit blessing our ministry. I want to thank the Rev. Barb Ballenger and our Minister for Children and Youth Anne Alexis Harra for excellent design, planning and leadership of this new initiative. Once COVID subsides —and it will—I believe this service will continue to flourish by providing a warm welcome to young families seeking a church home.
A key strategic commitment that helped shape LIFT is the notion that the primary source of faith formation for children is the family. LIFT offers intergenerational family-based formation after worship to encourage and reinforce families in their Christian formation function. Supporting families is what we pledge to do at baptisms and LIFT fulfills that vow in thanksgiving that families are the primary way faith is passed down through the generations.
We also saw a successful relaunch of the Chorister Program at St. Martins led by our new Director of Music Tyrone Whiting. A program that struggled with four or five participants before COVID now has 11 children at weekly rehearsals. Tyrone is a great recruiter and a marvelous teacher with children. The Choristers have already shown terrific improvement in their singing and we cannot wait for COVID to relent so the ensemble can lead music at worship. Chorister programs are a great tradition in the Episcopal Church and they provide both musical and spiritual formation to children. Our goal is to continue to build this program. A successful Chorister program is a key component in our overall mission to serve families.
Thank you to our church staff and all the lay leaders who have helped us rebuild our Children and Family Ministries during the ravages of COVID. Families and children have really struggled with the challenges of COVID at home, school and other activities. We are seeing a very real mental health crisis among children and youth as a result of the stress and strain of the last two years. It is my belief that our faith and our faith community have much to offer all who suffer or struggle or carry the pain of isolation and loss. I am so grateful to be in a church community that is prepared to support all ages as we learn and grow in the face of real adversity.
The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel
The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel
(215) 247-7466 ext. 101
The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel (he/him) was educated at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He was ordained Priest in 1995 in Danville, Pennsylvania where he worked as a Hospital Chaplain and a Head Start teacher. Pastoral positions followed at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Flossmoor, Illinois, St. Paul and the Redeemer in Chicago, and then Rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Park Ridge, Illinois. After following his wife, the Rev. Dr. Alison Boden, to her new position in Princeton, New Jersey, he was called to be the Executive Director of the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County. The largest food pantry and the gateway agency for Homelessness Prevention services in Mercer County, the Crisis Ministry also runs a Welfare to Work program and an innovative free farmers market. Jarrett became Rector of St. Martin’s in February 2011. He formerly served as the co-chair of Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER). Jarrett serves as Dean of the Wissahickon Deanery and is an Associate of the Order of the Holy Cross. He is an Adjunct Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary where he co-teaches a regular class on Faith Based Community Organizing, Theology and Practice. Jarrett has been published in Sojourners, the Huffington Post, Yours the Power, and the Journal of Public Theology. He is the father of two children, Timothy and Martha.