Our Search for a new Priest
St John's is seeking a new full-time Rector since Margie Shaw, our Rector since 2009, retired in October of 2014. In response to the "Narrative" section in the Community Ministry Portfolio we submitted to the Albany Diocesan Office for Transition Ministry we included:
Describe a moment in your worshipping community's recent ministry that you recognize as one of success and fulfillment.
During the summers of 2013 and 2014, St. John's hosted the All Saints Boys Choir, Ashmont from Dorchester, Massachusetts. In our collective efforts to share with these talented boys the inspirational natural environment we enjoy in the Lake Champlain Valley, we discovered a new camaraderie and closeness among ourselves as we worked together. The boys lifted us with their spiritual gift of music, and the parish found a cohesion that solidified the desire for future endeavors of this sort.
Describe your liturgical style and practice for all types of worship in your community.
We actively and enthusiastically participate in worship on Sundays. Our primary liturgy is Holy Eucharist Rite II - traditional yet relaxed - with music an integral part. Classical piano music greets us as we gather. We love to sing, and our small choir leads us from the 1982 Hymnal. In winter, we are a close-knit group of thirty, with summer at least twice that size. The choir expands in summer as well. We chant the psalm using traditional chants. We closely follow the Prayer Book except that a member prepares written Prayers of the People that appear in the bulletin and are led by a layperson. Preaching flows from the readings. Before the Eucharist, we pray for those celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, followed by announcements. Laughter is not uncommon. The choir customarily performs a traditional piece during communion. Coffee hour is a joyous continuation of the Eucharist. Several times a year, we have Evensong. Weekly Morning Prayer and contemplative prayer have not proved popular. Easter and Christmas Eve are family affairs with a shared festive meal afterwards. Worship both reflects and reinforces our strong sense of community.
How do you practice incorporating others in ministry?
Lay people are actively involved in ministry at St. John's as acolytes, chalice bearers, lay readers, altar guild, leaders of Bible Study and Book Groups, and choir members. Additionally, members of the congregation deliver food to the regional Food Shelf, travel to the Dominican Republic on an annual mission, and organize and staff ReNew, a thrift shop run by several local churches.
As a worshipping community, how do you care for your spiritual, emotional and physical well-being?
Recognizing that satisfying all the aspects of well-being is a huge task, the community of St. John's addresses this challenge by simply acknowledging the fact that well-being is multi-faceted. The pervasive atmosphere of openness and acceptance for all people permeates our liturgical practices and our community activities. Additionally, a strong history of pastoral care and outreach ensures that all those in need — whether physically, emotionally or spiritually — are supported by clergy and community, alike.
Describe your worshipping community's involvement in either the wider Church or geographical community.
St John's involvement includes the following: participation in regional Food Shelf; sponsorship of All Saints Ashmont (MA) Boys Choir "camp," providing housing, meals and an Adirondack experience; adoption of Libros Para Los Ninos providing school materials to Episcopal schools in the Dominican Republic; establishment of ReNew, a local thrift shop generating significant financial support for area needy; participation with local churches offering Vacation Bible School; leadership for "Families First" which supports families with children with mental health issues; and, participation in county-wide Ministerial Association's annual Veteran's Day dinner.
How do you engage in pastoral care for those beyond your worshipping community?
St John's intends to have pastoral care permeate everything we do. We are warm and welcoming to newcomers to worship, successfully encourage ecumenical participation in our three weekly study groups, and we work to maintain awareness of personal need in the community. For example, in 2013 we provided almost $30,000 of assistance to local people in need. This was made possible in three ways: 1) through our Rector's Discretionary Fund; 2) a CSA share at a local farm which we deliver weekly to the food shelf, and 3) through grants from ReNew, our locally sponsored thrift shop.
Tell about a ministry that your worshipping community has initiated in the past 5 years. Who can be contacted about this project?
St. John's has adopted Libros Para Los Niños as our international mission. Each year members of St. John's travel to the Dominican Republic to work with the priests and their schools to establish and fund education projects. Over the past five years Libros has worked with Episcopal schools in Angelina, Baní, Carretón, Santiago, and Jarabacoa. These schools are in the poorest areas and receive little or no other support. One of Libros' major projects is the funding and equipping of science laboratories. Each year a needy high school is selected. The 2014 science lab project is for the colegio Cristo Rey in Puerto Plata. Past projects include the purchasing of computers, printers and copy machines, desks and chairs, chalkboards, audio-visual equipment, and scholarships. For additional information, please contact Jan Bedoukian at email@example.com.
How are you preparing yourselves for the Church of the future?
St John's Vestry has developed a broad strategic plan that will provide a framework for adaptation by an incoming rector. By soliciting input through a parish meeting and written questionnaires, the St. John's “family” had an opportunity to share its hopes and dreams for the church and its next rector. The Vestry and Search Committee gathered in a prayerful retreat, and, with guidance from the Albany Diocesan Director of Transition Ministry, set in place a comprehensive search process addressing the immediate future. St. John's long-term goals include consideration of our relevancy and the relevancy of the church in an ever-changing and questioning world, while maintaining our Anglican roots.
What is your practice of stewardship and how does it shape the life of your worshipping community?
Stewardship is particularly important to St. John's, as we have made a commitment to full-time clergy leadership, which is unusual for a church of our size. Our practice is to begin the stewardship campaign in the late summer before our seasonal parishioners depart, and share with them what we anticipate our need will be for the upcoming year. We then send out a letter with the hope that pledges will be returned by Thanksgiving. This allows ample time to craft a budget for the following year. 2014's letter reads, “Stewardship can be defined as ‘What I do, with all that I have, after I say I believe.' ” The congregation has been extremely generous in contributing the necessary funds for annual operations, as well as for occasional capital campaign funding needs. People understand that robust Stewardship support is required to keep our beloved St. John's viable and relevant.
Describe a time when your worshipping community experienced conflict, and how did you handle it?
St. John's as a Parish recognizes and welcomes individuals of the LGBT community and supports their rights to marriage or civil union. Our Bishop and the Diocese of Albany are not in agreement with our point of view. After much prayer and several particularly thoughtful exchanges with Bishop Love, St. John's Vestry and the Parish community elected to request Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) from the Bishop of the Diocese of Vermont. DEPO was granted in 2012 and St. John's continues under that arrangement today. We at St John's are grateful that the House of Bishops created a mechanism like DEPO to allow parishes with theological points of view at odds with their canonical Bishop's to address and resolve the resulting conflict.
What is your experience leading/addressing change in the church, and how did you handle it?
Over the past 20 years, St. John's has dealt with many changes, some good and some not so good. The 1990s were years of uncertainty, unrest and an exodus of parishioners. In the early 2000s, with God's guidance and refreshed clergy leadership, St John's began to heal and adopt a positive, can-do stance. Year by year, the congregation has grown, become actively involved in new ministries, modes of worship and fellowship. Consequently, St. John's has come together to form the loving, caring and spiritually alive church that it is today. The years 2009-2014 were particularly positive under the leadership of Margie Shaw, our recently retired Rector, and she has left the parish in good order and high spirits to welcome a new Rector.
If you were all to identify the gifts and skills you need in your next priest as you move into the future, which words would you use to best describe those gifts and skills?
Individuals interested in learning more, being considered as a candidate, or wishing to suggest the name(s) of possible candidates please respond to Jon McBride, Search Co-Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org or 301.654.6338
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