by Pat Eagon Stafford
Senior Warden, St. Paul’s
On May 12, the vestry and clergy held our annual retreat. We discussed many things, including our thoughts and feelings on how the last year went, in particular, what worked well, what could be improved, and what prayers, plans and concerns we have for the next year and beyond. We focused on our progress in achieving the goals set out in our parish profile:
We all agree that we see a lot of new energy in the church, increased enthusiasm for new and old activities, and a sense of joy in being together as a parish. We’re delighted that Sunday attendance is strong, new groups are popping up, our sharing with those outside our walls, our commission system is being revitalized, and our goal of greening the church is nearing completion. It’s an exciting time to be at St. Paul’s!
Given that, it’s important to be aware that there is a hidden cost to this renewal of our parish life. Simply put, we are asking two clergy to take on an increased load, essentially to do the work that three did before, and also to lead, participate, and/or support new initiatives. Over a year ago, during a phone interview in the rector search process, one candidate asked a provocative question: How does St. Paul’s care for its clergy? Let’s all take some time to consider that question. We expect our clergy to be always there for us, but how do we support and care for them? The vestry, in setting goals for the coming year, stated that we expect and insist that our clergy take their days off, use their vacation time, and get the spiritual and professional renewal they need. The challenge of sustaining a busy parish with one priest when the other is away is heightened by the paucity of supply clergy in our diocese.
In the midst of our busy summer activities, let’s all take time to consider how we can return the care that Noah and Garrett give to us. Certainly we will pray for them, and we will seek ways to provide support and help. Perhaps we might lower our expectations that they be present at all meetings and gatherings and oversee all initiatives? But the ultimate care we can provide is to reduce their ministerial workload. So, as the fall stewardship campaign approaches, let’s all focus on generating the resources to support a critical third priest for our growing and busy parish. We cannot sustain our forward momentum without more clergy, and we cannot chance burning out our existing leaders. Let’s keep Noah and Garrett in our daily prayers, and contemplate how we can help to achieve our crucial goal of calling a third priest. I invite our congregation to share their thoughts and strategies on gaining resources with the vestry. Together we can do this!!
Wishing you all a blessed, beautiful, and bountiful summer!