I wanted to provide an overview of staff transitions coming up this Spring/Summer at St. John’s and what our Vestry and I are doing to address ongoing parish needs in response.
I know many are curious as to what options we are considering, and perhaps a little nervous because we’re facing quite a lot of staff transition in a very short period of time. I hope this update will provide encouragement as we have much to be thankful for and excited about, even as we grieve the upcoming departure of beloved staff members.
To recap upcoming staff transitions:
- Joy Shillingsburg, current Director of Outreach and former EYC (Youth) Director, will leave our staff after more than a decade serving at St. John’s to begin an exciting new role as the Mission Strategy Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of NC. She will remain a parishioner at St. John’s, but she will set down her St. John’s staff role in April. We will hold a Celebration of Ministry for Joy on Sun, Apr 23 during and after the 9:30 AM service.
- Philip Zoutendam, our third of three curates who have served full-time at St. John’s over the past three years through the Reimagining Curacies Program (funded entirely by a grant from the Lilly Foundation), will finish his time with us in May. His last Sunday as our curate will be May 21. A Celebration of Ministry date for Fr. Philip is TBD. (The funding for this position ends at this time as well and is not renewable.)
- Stephen Mazingo, our half-time Sr. Associate for Ministry with Children & Families, comes to the end of his current contractual role on July 31. Fr. Stephen served part-time at St. John’s for 18 months so he could concurrently complete a Master’s Degree in History at UNC Wilmington.
When we met for Part 2 of our Annual Parish Meeting in late January, we indicated that the Vestry was not yet prepared to budget for any new staff (or expansion of staff roles) because we didn’t have all the information we needed at that point to do so. But as of mid-March, we are now in a position to move forward with a staffing plan to meet our current needs and priorities.
Current needs and priorities include:
- adding another weekly Eucharist, likely on Sunday morning, and likely intergenerational in focus;
- investing new energy and creativity in our ministries with Children, Youth & Families and Creation Care;
- growing and deepening our culture of intergenerational relationships and ministries; and
- continuing our walk in love and service with neighbors and ministry partners in the Wake Forest community, county, diocese, and wider world
The following is a summary of the Vestry’s new staffing plan, and how it relates to these goals:
Growth of Music Director position to full-time.
In order to make possible the offering of a new, intentionally intergenerational weekly worship service, and enhance our children, youth, and family ministry with music, we have expanded the position of our Music Director to full-time starting April 1, 2023. Marcia Klinder-Badgley will be a key part of the team creating the format for our new service and will need this additional time to form new musical ensembles that include and engage children and youth.
Calling a second permanent full-time priest to assist Mo. Sarah.
This is a financial stretch for St. John’s as we do not currently have sufficient pledged income (written estimates of giving by parishioners) to fully support this position; but, as our ministry expands and St. John’s welcomes new parishioners almost every week, we need a second priest to support our expanding worship life and expanding lay leadership, particularly in areas of Christian formation for all ages, Outreach (now that Joy Shillingsburg is departing), and Creation Care. CLICK HERE to see the position description posted last week. The deadline for application is April 30 and we hope to complete a call by mid-May.
While we have enjoyed the service of Fr. Mawethu Ncaca (20/21), Mo. Amanda Bourne (21/22), and Fr. Philip Zoutendam (22/23) in a full-time capacity over the last three years, we knew from the start that the Curate role they’ve inhabited was a temporary position because their compensation was fully funded by a non-renewable grant, and we didn’t know if we’d grow our financial base enough to cover the cost when the grant ended in 2023. We also didn’t know that the Covid pandemic would create so many challenges over the last three years!
However, throughout these many challenges we have trusted that God is working in our midst; and behold, new doors continue to open even as old ones shut:
- our current “cushion” of undesignated funds (our parish savings account, so to speak) remains strong despite large investments in replacing multiple HVAC units, contracting with Ministry Architects to guide a parish reorganization, and more;
- we have maintained a consistently upward trend in attendance, membership growth, and ministry engagement; and,
- we have received a new pledge of support from our Diocesan Bishop, Sam Rodman, to cover health insurance for a new clergy member on our staff for up to two years.
These factors enable your Vestry and I to feel unanimously confident that calling a second priest to a new, permanent position on our staff is a reasonable “gamble” to take so we might respond to the longing of so many in our rapidly growing community in Wake Forest and beyond to find a community that deeply loves God and loves our neighbors — no exceptions.
Possible, ¼ time, short-term position to provide extra administrative support for Mo. Sarah.
Depending on the capacities of the priest who inhabits our new, permanent Curate/Assistant/Associate position (and our progress toward reorganization goals), we will may well provide a small stipend to Lois Sauer for a 1 – 2 year administrative support role. This will enable her to work closely with Mo. Sarah to complete the parish reorganization effort that we began nearly 2 years ago – a process that involves many moving parts in addition to the broad cultural changes that have ensued. Lois chaired the team that led this process during our contract with Ministry Architects, and her skills in this area are proven.
Please know that your Vestry has been diligent in weighing the best options to support and grow St. John’s ministry while being faithful in the stewardship of resources and courageous in vision. If you have any questions or would like to discuss these decisions further, I invite you to contact me (SarahP@stjohnswf.org, 919-556-3656) or our Sr. Warden, Bill Kovacs, (firstname.lastname@example.org).