Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Wednesday Night Festivity

Many of you know (though you may not have the chronology in mind) that I've been on my parish vestry through three crazy, event-filled years. I came onto the vestry in January 2005, expecting a smooth ride. We had a marvelous rector who had been there for some 34 years. And he wasn't just coasting; we had a very healthy parish, and his was a fruitful ministry. Then his wife died in April, which cast our parish into a new ministry. Suddenly, we started to discover something deeper about how the "ministry of all the baptized" included caring for our rector. Then in May, he announced he was going to retire on June 30, thrusting this parish – for the first time in three decades – into the uncharted waters of doing a "rector search." Those of us on the vestry had to move swiftly, and we called an interim rector, for a period that we knew should and would last at least two years. Meanwhile, we came face-to-face with some issues regarding our physical plant, and launched a capital campaign during the "interim" period. I am very proud of the work that our search committee and our parish did during the very, very long self-study process. Finally, we called a new rector, who came here in October. We are very happy with her. We are excited about what new ministry and what new explorations we may embark upon with her. But it sure has been a wild and crazy ride for these almost three years.

Tomorrow night, the bishop will make the big trip to St. Louis. He will join us as the community marks the "Celebration of New Ministry." Shariya+ will be installed as our rector, thanks be to God! We will covenant to be faithful to the promises and hopes we outlined in our self-study process. [For a delightful read, take a look at Richard Helmer's essay about the language we use when we "install" a new rector.] We will make promises to and with our new rector. I am very excited about all that.

You know me by now. Liturgy rat that I am, I am quite excited, too, that I will get to serve as subdeacon in tomorrow night's liturgy. I'm not yet entirely comfortable in that role, but I got some practice at the ordination last month. Our parish has never had a subdeacon, but I think I'm sufficiently knowledgeable that I can do the job and can even help folks move when and where they need to. I am looking forward to this liturgy with great happiness and excitement.

Good liturgy is great drama, in all the best sense. When it "works" as it should, it lifts the people beyond the quotidian reality. I hope I can help make that happen tomorrow night.

If you have some moments Wednesday, say a little prayer for our little parish. The self-study process is calling us to some ministry that needs to happen, but about which we are all a bit nervous. We now have a rector whom I support fully, but I'm sure she needs prayerful support. And our parish needs care as we "install" a new rector for the first time in about 36 years. I covet your prayers.


Blogger Suzer said...

My prayers are with you and your parish as you wend your way through this new and exciting time. A beloved rector leaving is always difficult, and it sounds as if your parish has weathered the "storm" as well as anyone can.

1/09/2008 9:31 AM  
Blogger Caminante said...

Prayers for all of you as you jointly start a new season of ministry together. And have fun as sub-deacon.

1/09/2008 4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what suzer and caminante said... and I'm reading this as you would be in the midst of your liturgy, so I'm with you.

Your new rector will need the support of someone special... and I hope its you. In my first parish, I followed a rector of forty-nine years! Yup. So I speak with the voice of experience. Be a shoulder for her.

1/09/2008 8:45 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you all.

I got home a couple of hours ago, and I am still floating on the buzz. It was absolutely the Best Liturgy Ever in this parish.

And I did ok in my subdeacon role.

I'll try to write about it in the next couple of days. For now, I can simply say it was an absolutely perfect service -- an absolutely perfect way to mark the new rector's entry into our parish -- and absolutely perfect in the ways it challenged the laity to stay as involved and invested as we have been for these last three years.

Absolutely perfect. Details to follow.

Many, many thanks for your prayers and good wishes. I am truly grateful.

1/10/2008 12:14 AM  
Blogger June Butler said...

Blessings upon you and your new rector and your parish. May you have many more lovely liturgies.

1/10/2008 4:03 PM  
Blogger JimB said...


Congrats! It is tough being on a transitional vestry after a long period. Our rector of 19+ years left 18 months ago. We went into the search, and the interim rector period. They are both about to end. The new rector was called this week -- the parish gets a name and some details Sunday. The interim who was very good, leaves at the end of January. We will make do with supply clergy until the new rector arrives.

I, praise heaven(!) leave the vestry at the end of January. It has been an exciting and in many ways successful period, but for me personally a complete failure. Ah well, life moves on they say and as a former vestry person, I expect it to do so.


1/11/2008 6:38 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I hope it's the beginning a exciting new ministry for your parish, Jim. But "personally a complete failure"? That's distressing to hear. You know you can contact me via the Facebook site.

1/11/2008 6:52 PM  
Blogger sharecropper said...

Yahoo, Lisa. Shariya and I were in seminary together. She's a wonderful person, and I'm sure she's a dynamite priest...underneath that quiet exterior. My buddy, the late Alison Cook, and I really liked her a lot and did a lot of praying about her ministry. I am so glad you have her for a priest. She won't know me as sharecropper, and I don't want to give my name on the blog. However, I'm praying for you and her and all the congregation - for many more years of a blessed ministry. You may contact me at sharecopper at suddenlink dot net for my real name.

1/13/2008 8:36 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Sharecropper, you prove to me -- yet again -- that there are only "3 degrees of separation" in the Episcopal Church. How delightful!

You're certainly correct about Shariya's "quiet exterior." She seems to radiate a sense of spiritual peace and groundedness. Just a couple of times so far, I've been pleased to catch that twinkle in her eye. I hope she is happy here. And I look forward to a deepening relationship with her -- for myself, and for my parish.

I'm sending you an e-mail to take you up on your offer.

I'm going to try not to let myself be haunted all night by the refrain of "It's a Small World After All." :-)

1/13/2008 11:39 PM  

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