January 29, 2021
There are two important messages below – one from the St. Mary’s Transition Team and one from the St. Mary’s Vestry. Both of these messages are hoping for your careful review and encouraging your feedback. Every voice in this community is important and we want to hear from you.
- St. Mary’s Transition Team – Narrative Letter
- St. Mary’s Transitional Priest
- St. Mary’s Staffing Changes
- Bishop Loya’s Visit with St. Mary’s on February 7th
The St. Mary’s Transition Team and Vestry
To our St. Mary’s community,
We are writing with news of solid progress. We have completed the first of the two documents we will use in our search for a new priest. This is a narrative letter that describes who we are and what we are looking for in a priest. We worked hard to capture the “soul” of St. Mary’s and to envision what characteristics a priest should bring to the table — God’s table — in order to help us build the future.
It is based on input from congregation members that came in a lot of different ways: the “Visioning Our Future” post-it note project, the materials we provided when considering merging with St. James, the answers to and analysis of the Holy Cow! survey, and your feedback during the Transition Team Community Meeting in mid-October.
The St. Mary’s community deeply values transparent communication and getting input from all sources. We would love to receive your comments, and we will bring your thinking into the search process. Next week, we will share the rest of the ministry profile, which is one of the last tasks before posting the position.
You can read the narrative letter online here. Please send comments and questions to us by e-mail at transitionteam@
saintmarysepiscopal.org. To get a reminder about who is on your transition team, see our information here.
Our hearts and minds are wide, wide open.
Greetings from your Vestry,
We continue to find ourselves in a time of great change here at Saint Mary’s, as well as in the world around us. This can be both exciting and worrisome, depending on the circumstance. Despite these challenges, Saint Mary’s continues to be a thriving place during our Sunday services and youth programming, and in the active work of multiple committees. The Vestry continues to strive to keep members of our community abreast of changes in a timely manner. There is much happening at this time that we would like to share with you.
Transitional Priest Hiring
Our previous Vestry letter described the possibility of Rev. Susan Moss joining us as our transitional priest. We heard only positive feedback from the congregation following that letter, and we are excited to announce that Rev. Moss has accepted our invitation! She will join us at our Sunday, January 31 service on Zoom and be formally introduced to the congregation at that time. She begins her part time role with us at the start of February. Susan will focus her time with us mainly on worship services and working with our community to prepare us for welcoming our next permanent rector. Other administrative duties will continue to be handled by members of the congregation, and pastoral care will continue to be led by Rev. Cindi Brickson. We are very excited to have Susan joining us on our journey through this time of transition, and will be appreciative of her guidance along the way.
Transition Team Update
The Transition Team has reached an exciting milestone in their rector search process. The first document that goes outside of our congregation is creating a portfolio describing the position we hope to fill and describing our faith community so that potential applicants can understand what we are looking for in a priest. Within the next couple of weeks, that will be released and posted for potential candidates to review and will of course be available to members of our church. The portfolio is based on what we learned about the congregation from the Holy Cow! survey that many members of our community filled out last summer. This release will kick off the rector search process that we hope will lead to a hire by sometime this summer. Thank you to the Transition Team for all of their work to get us to this stage!
This period also continues to hold challenges for us. Our number of pledging members has declined over the past couple of years, and we as a Vestry are making some difficult choices on how to live within our means. Jim and Caroline met with Joann and agreed that because our church services are now held online, there is no need to staff our nursery. We appreciate Joann’s care for our little ones over the years, and will reevaluate the need for nursery after we have returned to in-person worship.
Another challenge is our need to reduce staff costs from our music team. We know that music is an important part of the worship experience to many members of our community. However, our current finances and our conducting only one service per week suggests the potential for some cost savings over the next several months. Our wardens met with the music team to discuss options, and Jim and Vonda both expressed a willingness to reduce costs until we return to in-person services, but also as a way to free up some of their own time during this period. When more details become available on any changes to music at Sunday services or choir, we will share them.
Last but not least, we are excited to virtually host Bishop Craig Loya and a guest deacon on February 7th. Bishop Loya will spend the day with our congregation, starting with his participation with Sunday school at 9:00 a.m. Our worship service that Sunday at 10:00 a.m. will be led by youth from our congregation as part of our annual Super Bowl of Caring event, with Bishop Loya providing a sermon and also celebrating spiritual communion with us. He will then join us for a Community Meeting after the service. In the afternoon, Bishop Loya will join the Vestry for our weekly meeting. We hope you can join us for this visit that typically happens once every 2-3 years. Please submit questions for Bishop Loya to answer during our Community Meeting by emailing wardens@saintmarysepiscopal.
org before 5pm on Wednesday, February 3rd. The wardens will compile the questions and share them with Bishop Loya ahead of his visit. During the Community Meeting, we also will take questions using the Zoom chat feature so as to avoid interrupting the conversation.
Members of the Vestry continue to appreciate the joy, compassion, and community within Saint Mary’s that is so apparent even though we are not able to be together. Our congregation has been through many challenges over the past few years, and there is still a sense of loss that we feel. However, we are also grateful for the continued contributions of time, talent and treasure by members of our church to make this such a vibrant place, even when we are restricted to a virtual format. Thank you for being a part of that effort!
As always, we welcome your feedback on anything raised in this letter, or on other matters you feel we need to hear. Please reach out to the wardens or other members of the Vestry whenever you feel the need.
The Saint Mary’s Vestry