Just a quick note to share two pictures:
First … the Stilwell Smokehouse. This is our favorite barbecue joint. In fact, its motto is “Best little barbecue joint in Kansas.” A friend of ours opened the place in June 1993 when we moved to the Stilwell, Kansas area. Since our son and daughter are both vegetarians (and our son is a vegan!) we knew we wouldn’t be going there with them during our visit to KC. So we went our own for lunch. Our friend sold the place a couple of years ago … but the new owners have kept up the quality and the burnt ends are as good as ever. We bought a case of the house barbecue sauce while we were there (9 bottles of original recipe, and 3 bottles of the mustard recipe which is particularly good on pork and chicken).
If you’re ever in the KC metroplex head for Johnson County, get yourself onto Metcalf Avenue, and head south to 196th Street. The Smokehouse is located on the west side of the street across from Stilwell United Methodist Church, from whose parking lot I took this picture this afternoon.
Second picture …. St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church:
This is the church where I was rector. In the area around this church there are all sorts of new developments. Near where we lived (about 3.5 miles from the church) a new neighborhood is being built with (according to the sign) homes for sale “in the high $300,000s” … about about two miles north of that, a development with homes in the range of “$600,000 to $1 Million+” is going in. Lots and lots of homes are being built in the area.
In the midst of all this new development and increase in population, St. Francis sits there doing nothing … no growth, no programs, no nothing. In the nearly four years since I left, it hasn’t changed one iota (except that the gardening has deteriorated and the paint is pealing). What, I asked my spouse as we left the parking lot, what does it take to get Episcopalians to do something about evangelism and growth? What does it take to get us to change our ways? Growth in this place took place rapidly in my first three years — and that led to conflict and not only a stoppage of growth, but shrinkage. And after I left, more shrinkage (or so I’m told). They are “making do” with a part-time supply priest and it doesn’t look like there’s any other staff at all.
Some things shouldn’t change — like good barbecue — and other things — like non-growing parishes — should!