Saint Joseph’s Episcopal Church is small, averaging ca. 55 people in attendance every Sunday, as well as exceedingly diverse: Our community includes senior citizens who have been with the church for over sixty years as well as young families; Duke faculty and graduate students as well as our homeless neighbors who live on the church’s property; cradle-Anglicans as well as converts from a wide range of traditions, Christian and non-Christian alike.
This concededly quirky mix is likely part of the reason that Saint Joseph’s is both a tight-knit community, and one whose boundaries are more than a little blurry: On the one hand, Saint Joseph’s members are kin to one another, not merely in the theological but in the practical sense of actively sharing one another’s life. As a result, participation in ministry and liturgy is high amongst the congregation; the infamous adage that in churches 20% of the people do 80% of the work emphatically does not apply to Saint Joseph’s. Lay members assume leadership in virtually every area of the church’s life, including but not limited to preaching, leading and discerning liturgies for morning and evening prayer, representing the church with a number of ecumenical and/or charitable organizations, or simply initiating, organizing and hosting an end-of-week cook-out.
On the other hand, however, Saint Joseph’s is anything but insular. Our community extends to those who are members of other churches but join us during the week for morning and evening prayer; to our homeless neighbors who rarely come to a Sunday Eucharist but are nevertheless integral to Saint Joseph’s; to local college students, whose life-rhythms call them away from Durham every summer. The church is moreover actively involved both with other churches in the Triangle area, and with the Durham community in general. In all this we are sustained through shared prayer and liturgy; through biblically grounded, intellectually stimulating and personally challenging preaching; through openness to change and innovation; and through our gratitude for Saint Joseph’s existence and enthusiasm for working towards the future of the church.