The Rev. Philip Zoutendam, Associate Rector and The Rev. Sarah Phelps, Rector
First, a message from Fr. Philip:
Dear beloved people of St. John’s,
I have some bittersweet news, and I’m sorry that the bitter part will inevitably come as a shock. I’ll be moving to New Jersey this fall to follow my wife, Erin, who was recently hired to a faculty position at Seton Hall University. That last part is the sweet in this bittersweet, of course, and I’m both very proud of Erin and her gifts as a scholar and teacher, and also grateful that I can support her vocation. But it hurts to leave St. John’s. It hurts especially to leave now, when we had just started working together again, and there are such exciting things on the horizon. Please know that, even in the midst of such a sudden turn, Mtr. Sarah and the Diocese and I have been in mutual discernment, above all about what is best for this parish which I love so much.
There is more sweet news as part of this transition, though it belongs to others to share. In the short time we have left together, and beyond, I will pray for St. John’s and for God’s continued blessing as you both share and embody the good news of Christ in Wake Forest. Please pray for me as well. Everyone I know who has walked through the doors of this church has felt welcomed and loved, and wants to stick around. It was no different for me, and I will miss you all very much.
~ Fr. Philip
A message from Mo. Sarah+
As Fr. Philip notes, this turn of events has been a shock. Most faculty positions are not filled so late before the start of the fall semester, and most are not filled between fall and spring semesters either. So, we thought we had a good shot at Philip being with us through June of 2024; but, alas, this is a bet we lost.
As I am married to a one-time PhD student and academic type, my first response to this news I received one week ago was to be thrilled and delighted for Philip’s wife, Erin. Full-time academic positions, especially at a prestigious university like Seton Hall, are extremely competitive. This is the chance of a lifetime for a young scholar, and I’m both very happy for her and pleased that Philip wants to support her in her vocation.
Of course, I’m also very sad to have our time with Philip cut short. He’s been such a gift to me personally; and he is an exceptional priest who has served our parish beautifully. You should know that Philip was willing to stay in the Triangle area through June of next year to fulfill his contract with us; but since he’s only just gotten started in his new role at St. John’s, I was inclined to release him from our contract as soon as I could identify another priest to serve in his place.
Fortunately for us, I was aware that Fr. Mawethu Ncaca was still in the process of seeking a position in the Triangle Area after the Reimagining Curacy Program concluded in May. I called Mawethu soon after Philip shared his news about Erin’s job in NJ. Mawethu and I discussed the position. We gave each other a couple of days to pray. In the end, I joyfully offered him the position, and he has joyfully accepted!! Our bishops have signed off on all of the above, and here we are – minus one fantastic Associate Rector, but plus another!
While I am truly sad to let go of Philip so soon, I feel that all things have worked together for the good. I have just as much confidence in Mawethu as I have in Philip, though they are very different people with different gifts. In my view, having Mawethu available and ready to start so soon is a gift straight from God, especially with a new worship service starting in October. In fact, I can hardly believe this has come to pass in this way, but I’ve decided to just say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
We’ll send Fr. Philip off with blessings and a celebration of his ministry on August 27, his last Sunday; and then we’ll joyfully welcome Mawethu back among us starting September 1. We do have another all-parish worship conversation planned for August 27 after the 9:30 service, so our formal goodbye might be mostly during worship followed by a brief coffee hour, but Fr. Philip agreed that this would be just fine.
A reminder that Philip’s email is email@example.com if you want to send him a note.
This comes with Love,