December 31, 2020
Families and friends of St Mary’s,
Your vestry sends this letter today with sincere hopes that it finds you well and in a place of peace and celebration during this Christmas season. The new year will soon be with us and we are looking forward with confidence, hope and optimism for the blessings that 2021 may bring.
We are so grateful for all the gifts of time and energy that members of our community are investing for our future. There is so much activity and participation from so many; the worship teams are hosting loving and touching services to nourish us, the music teams fill us with joy and celebration, our children’s ministry continues to redefine creativity and care for our children, the transition team is gathering often with boundless energy to help discern the possibilities for our futures, the finance team is turning countless iterations in stewardship of prospective budgets, the buildings crew is caring for our (largely) empty beloved home, and so much more… in even in the brief and distanced conversations, limited to phones and zoom, the energy and optimism binds us and shines through to brighten our days.
We are blessed to have so many members of our congregation filling important roles, but the vestry feels that it would be best to have someone with experience in these matters walking the road with us. An interim priest could help us through this transition by filling important roles between now and when we are able to complete a call for a new permanent rector. Someone who can walk with us, listen to us, support us, guide us, and work with us, as we are and as who we want to be, for the coming months.
We are fortunate that ECMN continues to support us through this transition. The Reverend Karen Olson (ECMN) has been more than just a point of contact for us at the diocese. She is our support, she cares for us, and recently (about two weeks ago) she came to the wardens with a potential candidate who might be a fit for us as an interim role: Reverend Susan Moss.
Reverend Susan Moss might be a familiar name to you: she knows us, she has presided and preached at services at Saint Mary’s (listen to her sermon December 9th, 2018), she has been a priest in Minnesota for many years, has been part of the diocese (ECMN) in several roles, and to support our congregation she is interested to step out of retirement and into active ministry to work with us on a part time, temporary basis.
Reverend Moss has a wealth of experiences and she has the wisdom to teach, guide, and coach. She is formed and grounded in Episcopal traditions, yet she is so open and imaginative in the ways she sees Christ in the world. She has quiet, but seemingly boundless energy and creativity to help others find the joys from God in this world and she calls us all to serve others to share that love.
She has been employed as a permanent Rector in stable communities, she has been deployed as a Vicar for a newly-formed mission church, and she has served in interim and transitional roles to guide congregations through tough transition in face of hard realities. She can share more details of her background as our conversations with her continue. In the meantime, we found this summary bio interesting and informative from just a few years ago, written by Rev Barbara Mraz, while Rev Moss was serving an interim role at St John the Evangelist.
Within just a few days from the time that Rev Karen Olson brought forward Rev Susan Moss as a potential candidate to serve in a part-time, temporary interim role with Saint Mary’s, our wardens (Caroline Kaker and Jim DeLuca) were able to follow up in a conversation directly with Reverend Moss. Since your vestry has been meeting weekly (on Sunday nights) for the past several months, a timely second conversation was arranged with the larger vestry audience. The activities aligned over a short period of time just about a week ago.
The series of two short conversations with Rev Moss went well. The vestry feels that she may be a good fit for this role and hope to further explore this possibility. In this consideration, it is important that we recognize the context of our community situation: we are a strong, lay-led congregation on our way through transition with a need for an experienced hand to help guide us for just awhile along this path. Rev Moss should not be considered as an “applicant” who reached out to us to fill an open position; rather, our mentors within ECMN recognized potential for mutual ministry and helped to guide two parties together toward the next conversation.
Also, it is important to note that none of this is certain; it is just promising. It is new and promising enough for us to share this information with you and share some excitement of the possibility. Whether Reverend Susan Moss is the right fit for Saint Mary’s, whether she is the right person to guide us in the coming months is still in discernment.
If we were to proceed, the details (the nuts & bolts) of her role, responsibilities, boundaries, start date and contract would need to be worked out. One consideration in discussions with Reverend Moss is that she is only looking to work part-time and will not assume all of the duties filled by a rector. We are blessed to have Reverend Cindi Brickson, a member from our community, serving us in a role of pastoral care and that could continue should we hire Reverend Moss. This continuity of pastoral care would be beneficial as a way to minimize further transitions for the community.
One thing Reverend Moss has shared: if she is called by us to serve in a temporary interim role, she will want to know from us; what is our most important work in this world? And, she will want to be there, beside us, working with us.
We welcome your feedback on this question as we continue our conversation with Reverend Moss. We also want to hear from you and know how this option appeals (or doesn’t) to you. We are your vestry representatives and we want to be sure we are best considering all of our voices. If you have immediate questions, please reach out to any of the vestry directly. We look forward to hearing from you.
We’ve been through many changes together over the recent years and months. As our lives in community continue to evolve, let us continue together on our journey with an eye to the horizon, while we do our best to ensure each step on the path is in firm footing.
We also would like to share an update on the deep, discerning, and meaningful work that our Transition Team is doing. The congregation received an update after services on November 15th. Since then, they have continued to meet at least weekly, often with more conversations and gatherings between. Most recently, they shared another update to the Vestry that shows major progress toward developing information needed for a call for a permanent rector. They are focused on the long term; they are casting forward and guiding our eyes toward the horizon with hope for what might for a call for a permanent rector. In their prayerful work, much remains unknown, but they are working hard and with optimism toward a goal of a successful call sometime in mid-year 2021. As they complete that work, we will be asking them to provide another update to the community for their feedback.
We appreciate how difficult so many of the transitions of the past two years have been for this community. Please provide us with any feedback on how we as a vestry can serve the congregation through the transitions ahead of us. We look forward to walking that road together with you.
Your St. Mary‘s Vestry
Caroline Kaker, co-warden
Jim Deluca, co-warden