The Winds of Change
Updated: Aug 3, 2019
So, things have been going along so well for us here at St. Paul’s, and now things have to, to, to . . . . change! Reverend Nancy is retiring, August 1st. That is less than 3 months from now! As the congregation of St. Paul’s, what are we going to do? To do nothing is to ignore the fact that this reality has already been set in motion.
Are we going to miss Reverend Nancy? Of course, she has been an integral part of not only every worship service, our personal lives, our joys, our sorrows, but also the day-to-day operations of St. Paul’s. Think about this, there is a lot more to it than one may think. A Priest is an overseer, a shepherd, over all things related to every single aspect of their congregation.
So, where do we go from here? Well, The Reverend Canon Joanna Satorius, the Canon of Formation and Transition Ministry of the Los Angeles Diocese met with the Vestry on March 17th, and she addressed this question, in general, by providing us an overview of the process of calling a new priest. It is important to note, however, that most of this process cannot begin until after Reverend Nancy’s retirement is complete, in other words, after August 1st. The idea behind this is that the congregation moves ahead with a fresh start, knowing that we, together, must determine the Will of God for our congregation on our own.
However, there are a few things that we can begin to do at this point in time, and we wanted to begin sharing some of those things here with you, the members of St. Paul’s. She spoke of initiating a self-study, a process, whereby we report about our congregation; who we are; and what is significant about us. How does a group, a congregation such as us, do this? By asking each of the individuals to respond to questions about their church.
Remember when Christ had this dialogue with His Disciples:
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
That was a very brazen thing for Peter to say about Christ. Yet, when Christ was at the threshold of crucifixion, Peter would adamantly deny that he even knew Jesus—three times!
And so, to start off our congregation’s Self-Study, we would ask you, “Why are you here, at St. Paul’s?” It is not that we are making any suggestion that you leave St. Paul’s. We are asking, “What drives you to worship here with this particular congregation?” For those of you who are ‘cradle-to-grave’ Episcopalians, we are asking that you, “Look deeper into what drives you to be a part of this particular congregation, besides location and history?
The question above and your subsequent response to it is important. First, we want this process to be all-inclusive; if you want to be a part of it, we want you to be a part of it. Second, we are looking for your affect—what St. Paul’s evokes in you. Thirdly, the Scripture indicates that we should know what we believe, and, equally important, why:
15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame.
Okay, so how should you ‘submit’ your responses? By creating an account and submitting a “comment.” Moreover, once you create your account, you will be notified by email every time a new Blog is posted, and there will be many more to follow. Please, keep in mind that our website, this blog, and EVERY comment you leave is out there on the Internet for the entire world to see. Please, also note that, at our discretion, comments that are negative, profane, or punitive may be taken down and your ability to post can be suspended.
Finally, take heart, pray, and let’s work together. It is interesting; one thing Joanna said surprised me and made me deeply curious. Joanna said that, “Sometimes, a congregation will grow while they are without a Priest.” I was deeply curious as to why that would be so. Then, it came to me. Without a Priest, a congregation has to be active, engaged, mindful, and work together. If this is demonstrably so, it can draw others in who want to be a part of this successful group effort. I found a quote that supports this concept:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Through, with, and in Christ,
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Vestry