It is the middle of summer and not the most opportune time for a parish meeting, but I know many of you are curious and interested (concerned?) to have a status update on various areas of our life and ministry at St. John’s as we continue to navigate many changes in our life together. I am sure this will not answer every question you have, but I hope it makes a start.
I’m going to focus on staffing transitions and related program updates here, but please feel free to engage our Sr. Warden, Vestry, and staff members in further conversation about any items on your radar screen – strategic planning and parish re-organization with Ministry Architects, post(?)-pandemic re-gathering issues, and more. It helps us to know what you are wondering and concerned about as we inch our way to a “new normal” – someday!
Worship & Music Transitions
As pandemic restrictions gradually loosen, we are easing our way back to a “regular” Sunday morning schedule. By August 1st we will have returned to two in-person worship services each Sunday; but instead of 8 AM & 10 AM as before the pandemic, we have chosen to resume with a 7:45 AM service and a 9:30 AM service. Given that our 10 AM service was bursting at the seams just prior to the pandemic, we are laying the groundwork now so we may add a third service at 11 or 11:15 AM when the time comes.
When we add a third service on Sundays, there will be many ripple effects from this change as well; and one of those impacts will be on our music program. Our last Music Director left the position in May 2020 and we have been working with interim and supply accompanists since that time. We’ve needed to shift between different supply musicians as we’ve had different priorities during this long, pandemic season – initially prioritizing someone who could mix music tracks digitally and produce pre-recorded music for livestreams, and now prioritizing musicians who can lead live music through our entire service and re-gather our choir(s).
John Drymon, who accompanied us through the livesteam-only phase of the pandemic, served his last Sunday on July 11. Three other supply musicians will lead us through Labor Day (Tom Flynn, Marcia Flinder-Badgley, and Renee McBride); and we hope one of these will be a good fit to serve for 2 – 5 months as we work through our re-visioning and strategic planning process with Ministry Architects and conduct a proper search for permanent leadership on the other side of that.
Adding a third service will require additional resources for our music ministry, so resources will need to be raised for that; and questions around music style(s) and other program priorities will be settled during this fall planning process as well.
Children, Youth, and Families Transitions (including Preschool)
I’ve written a detailed document providing a thorough update on staffing and anticipated program transitions in our ministry with children, youth, and families – and there are many! Click here to read.
A Future with Hope
This current moment in our parish life is messy, with pressure points related to staff transitions, long-range strategic planning, parish re-organization, and pandemic re-opening happening all at once. It’s going to continue to be messy for a while. I know this can be stressful and anxiety-producing. I feel it myself every single day.
In the midst of all the stress, it’s helped me to step back (sometimes multiple moments each day) to remember God’s faithfulness across time and generations; and remember the spirit of joy, generosity, love of neighbor, and creativity that the Spirit has unleashed within our parish over the last few years. Remembering this daily and giving thanks for all that has been, helps me look to the future with hope. So I hope you will join me now in praying, “God bless this mess.”
I do trust that God is blessing us along this way and filling in the gaps we may be missing. In time, I trust we will discover a new and beautiful shape rising out of the chaos!
This comes with Love,