FROM THE SENIOR WARDEN
Chuck Marks - May 29, 2019
I think it appropriate that in our lectionary for this Easter Season that we are reading from the Book of Acts. Acts describes the period of time after Jesus is crucified and where the disciples first walk and meet with Jesus leading up to Pentecost and his ascension to heaven. The stories then shift to Peter and what the twelve do after Jesus is called to Heaven - a wonderful “so-what” moment for the disciples and their ministry. Later, Acts shifts to describe the journeys and ministry of Paul, not of the original twelve, but a Roman Citizen and trained Rabbi who first persecutes the new Christians and then is predominantly responsible for the spread of Christianity from Jerusalem to Asia Minor, to the Gentiles (us), to Greece, and eventually to Rome itself.
We are a month from Easter and a month into our short period without a called rector. Behind the scenes, this has been very busy time as we sort out a new daily process and a new rhythm for St. Aidan’s. I have been singularly impressed by everyone who has been stepping up into leadership positions and taking on tasks that need to be accomplished to keep our parish community moving forward together.
Meanwhile, around us, life in our diocese continues to move forward. This month has included a Cursillo weekend, a work weekend and alum gathering at Chanco, an EYC retreat, the calling of a new youth missioner for the diocese and the soon to be announced latino missioner. The Bishop search is narrowing the 22 candidates to the final group who will be taking part in walk-abouts and Bishop election at a special council planned for September.
Working in close coordination with our rector search consultant, Elise Balcom, and the Diocese Canon for Transition, Charles Robinson, the vestry has called seven individuals to serve on our rector Search Committee. They are:
· Jerry Alley
· Kathy Benson
· Mary Dail
· Andy Fischer
· Janice Poole
· Sid Vaughn
· Irv Wells
At our vestry meeting this coming Tuesday, we will be finalizing the Charge for our Search Committee. I invite everyone to be here on June 16th, our first combined service of the summer, where Charles Robinson, the Diocese Canon for Transition and Elise Balcom, our search consultant will be joining us at our Sunday service to commission our Search Committee team.
The biggest question asked during a transition is always - how long will this take? That question, while common to every Congregation, has a different answer in every Congregation and in each search. Our Search Committee will need to come together and get to know one other, build a trusting community so they can work together, and discern each other’s strengths. They will then embark on a period of self-study about St. Aidan’s, talking to the Congregation, and refreshing our formal online Church profile. Part of this will be ensuring our parish web site is reflective of our identity and supports calling the right individual to serve as our rector. They will then start to gather names to review as candidates, conduct interviews, and perhaps even visit a candidate in their home church - trying to match our self-assessed desire with real priests. We will then transition to in-person interviews and presentation of candidates to the vestry for the final decision.
There are some very real milestones that we need to remain mindful of that drive outcomes in this search. The Episcopal Church does slow down during the summer months - as you know by our own attendance here at St. Aidan’s. The second two periods that slow the process are Advent and Lent, as all parishes and clergy focus on these church high seasons as a priority. Within that church cycle biorhythm, there are some calendar-based milestones that are critical to our process worth mentioning. The Episcopal Church of the United States hosts two Transition Conferences each year, one in September, and one in March. Currently, St. Aidan’s is listed as a parish in transition with the national church. Our church profile, though, is locked and not viewable as it was last updated in 2005. Once our newly appointed Search Team has a chance to update the Parish Profile and that work nears completion, St. Aidan’s will be presented as a “coming attraction” at the Transition Conference with some of the high-lights shared to the audience and potential candidates. Once our parish profile is finalized and released, candidates will be formally matched with our search team for consideration and will be able to apply directly without going through a diocese entity. I believe the earliest we will be ready to have our parish profile updated and ready for release will be this fall. I believe it reasonable to expect that we will be reviewing candidates early in 2020.
The second good news I would like to share with you is that we expect to consider candidates for an Interim Rector sometime in the next couple of weeks, with the hiring of an Interim Rector before the end of the summer. There are two potential candidates here in our diocese that will be formally presented to the vestry for consideration. The Interim Rector will be critical to us as we move forward, providing Sunday services, providing pastoral care, and advising our various teams with best practices and ideas as we move forward in a lay-led parish.
I have two more pieces of good news to share. For the month of June, we will have Dale Hirst with us for Sunday Services, and John Baldwin will be with us for the month of July. Both have served with us before and are comforting presences to us, having served in our Sanctuary before. While we may have more Supply Clergy with us, such as Dick Ullman for June Newland’s funeral at the end of the month, our Interim will take up the mantle soon.
This Memorial Day weekend we take the time to consider those that have given their lives for their country, remembering the fallen and those who are passed. The fallen are not gone for we continue to remember them and continue to share their stories. The book containing their stories are never really closed - we just keep adding chapters to the book, adding and writing more. To steal a thought from the youth at May Weekend from last weekend, God’s Love is Transformational and impacts each of us differently. We are transformed as a community by God’s Love and, as a result, keep adding to our St. Aidan story. As we remember those that have fallen, we also need to be telling each other our story as a community. The story sharing will ensure that our community is the stronger for it and will continue to allow God’s Love to Transform us.
I would like to leave you with an excerpt from today’s gospel - one of my favorite passages in the bible. This passage has spoken to me since childhood when I heard it every week in the Sunday liturgy of the Catholic Church. This passage interrupts the Lord’s Prayer and is shared by the priest before the last three lines. This is why you may here some of us former Catholics pause before we say: ”For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.” In this passage from John, Jesus is instructing his disciples. He shares that while he may be leaving them, the transformative power of the Holy Spirit will be with them (and us) forever. He instructs them to continue to share their story with the world and not to close the book they are writing together. Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”