It has now been almost a year since I joined you at St. Paul’s as your Rector. It has been a year filled with joy, some challenges, and a whole lot of hard work. I am excited about how we are continuing to grow as a community, and in our life with God together. As we are now at a mid-point in Lent, this season of renewal of our lives with God, I want to update you all on a number of developments in our shared community of faith.
Thank you to everyone who took part in our Annual Meeting conversations on Sunday, February 11.th We had an energizing Meeting, with about 150 adults and youth participating in small group conversation about the life of our parish. The notes from these conversations are summarized here. There were many themes in these conversations, but one overarching one that I saw was - a hunger for community. We share a deep desire for us all to share the joys and challenges of our lives together, especially connecting across generations, services and groups with our community. We also heard of the desire to continue to grow in service to the wider community, and deepen and grow in our personal faith and relationship with God. To be honest, I was not surprised by the themes that I heard – it rings true to the many conversations I have had with you over the last year. For me, it was a confirmation of the path that we are currently on. As I have said before, the life of the church is one long ongoing conversation, and these annual meeting conversations will inform the work of the Vestry over the coming months.
Combined Worship Services
Many members in our community have expressed a love of our combined worship services, both for the fullness of our church and also the experience of being “one church” connecting across generations. Our Worship Commission is working with, and our Vestry has affirmed, a plan to continue these combined worship services at 9:45am. We will hold this combined 9:45am service in the summer months, when attendance is lower, along with several times during the “program year,” most likely All Saints Sunday (November), Sunday after Christmas, Annual Meeting Sunday (February), Palm Sunday, and Pentecost (May/June). Upcoming in 2018, we will have planned combined worship on Palm Sunday (with a Passion Play - March 25), and Pentecost (with an end of the year skit and music presentation following the service - May 20). Combined worship will then continue from Memorial Day (May 27) until the end of August. This will include our Annual Bishop’s visitation and confirmation (June 3). Please share any thoughts about these services with me, or members of the Worship Commission and Vestry, as we continue to develop this new pattern of worship.
Vestry Commission System
At our Vestry organizational meeting shortly after the Annual Meeting, our Vestry decided to build up our Vestry Commission systems. The goals of this are to 1.) embody a more collaborative way of doing ministry in our community, 2.) involve more parishioners in the life and work of the church, and to 3.) seek “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
To this end, each Commission will 1.) have a vestry representative, who may or may not Chair the commission, 2.) have members who share in the discernment and work of the commission, and 3.) develop a mission statement and “charge” to help guide its work.All of our commissions and their Vestry reps are listed here. And, all commissions are currently recruiting members – if you are interested in joining any of these commissions, please contact the Vestry rep to get more information about this.
The Vestry will host a forum on Sunday, April 22 at 9:45 to talk more about our growing commission system.
I am also excited to let you know that St. Paul's will have a full-time Pastoral Intern this summer, from mid-May through July, Mia Benjamin. Mia is a candidate for ordination to the Priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and will have finished her second year of seminary at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley California. She will be helping with pastoral care, preaching and some other parts of our ministry. I will introduce her more in the next addition of the Messenger.
As always, I love hearing from you as we continue this journey together of growing as a community of God in Christ.
The Reverend Noah H. Evans, Rector