SENIOR MOMENTS — THE LAST EDITION ☹
As I sit here reflecting on the best Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that I have had in a long, long time, I recognize how blessed I have been to serve as your Senior Warden during the year of the pandemic. While so much was interrupted and changed in our lives, the business of running our incredible Parish was kept on track with the great technology of Zoom and by the willing hearts and bodies that are St. Paul’s.
Serving on the Technology Team with Bob Crafts and Bryce O’Dell has given me the blessing of being able to be in our sacred space on a regular basis while learning and growing. We worked to bring our services and special events to all of you who necessarily had to be excluded for most of the year. The depth of the friendships I have made serving on this team added so much to my year, as well. We seek new members of the team to teach them how to both do the work of the team but also experience something new that is very fulfilling. Inquire through Bob Crafts or me. The generosity of our donors that help us grow, funding the first camera and, now, funding another camera and a mixer in early 2021, is heartfelt and very much appreciated. You know who you are. 😊😉
Seeing so many beautiful faces at the two services on Christmas Eve was a delight that I will not soon forget. There were tears of joy in so many to be in that space once again. We attained our pre-set capacity at both services. If you neither attended nor watched either online, then I highly recommend one or both. The link is on the home page of our website, spechurch.com. Our harpist friend, Christina Brier, played prior to the 8:00 a.m. service and it was so lovely to hear her work again.Ronnie and Richard were spectacular, as usual, and Adam’s sermon was perfect. Ray celebrated the Solemn Eucharist as he does everything: thoughtfully, deliberately, with great passion and very meaningfully.
When this year began, I said we would all have 20-20 vision this year. Little did any of us know what 2020 vision would be like. Ray had been here for a mere two weeks when the lock-down was put in place and we all retreated to our homes. We wore masks and gloves to the grocery store. Other than that, our cars sat idle in their spaces, longing for action just as we were. At least Zoom, Facetime and Skype gave us the opportunity to safely stay in contact with friends and family.
In church business, we continued despite our environmental constraints and we have had a most productive year. The Search Committee was formed and has been meeting weekly. The Parish Profile has now been approved by the Vestry and posted in three publications for such matters. Now we wait while potential candidates review and discern their next step. The Search Committee gets to slow down a bit during this time. Their hope is to call our new Rector such that he or she will first serve here in early to mid-summer. May God richly bless them all and all those that might consider calling Wilmington and St. Paul’s their new home.
The Vestry unanimously approved the Strategic Plan offered by the Strategic Planning Committee and took to the work of implementing it. Sleeves were rolled up and the work began. I am so proud of everyone’s efforts in this regard.
The Facilities Team had to sit and wait until it was safe to allow workers back inside the building but that changed late in the year. Now, all the windows on the north, west and south facings sides of the building have been reconditioned and painted. They look so much better thanks to the diligent efforts of Silkwood, our painting contractor.
The Facilities Team has also accomplished the task of identifying possible architectural firms from which to request a Request for Proposal (RFP). Those requests have gone out and, at the last I have heard, four interested firms have responded and are, in fact, working on proposals for the repair, renovation and code compliance of our marvelous facility. The Team is now working on the scoring matrix, so all are considered in a fair and even-handed manner. We should see the result of their efforts in this regard in the first quarter of 2021. The Archives Team is making ready to share our existing blueprints with the architectural firms so they can know with what they are working.
Under the supervision and guidance of Steve Haughey and Bob Crafts, a new phone system was recently installed. The old system was antiquated and, at one time, being maintained with duct tape and paper clips. That escalated to bandages and gauze. Two very generous donors stepped up to cover the entire cost of this.
We had two 5-ton heat pumps fail at basically the same time. One served the Nave and the other served the Parish Hall. It was necessary to replace them both. Thanks to Southeastern Heating and Air Conditioning, they were replaced promptly under the supervision and guidance, once again, of Steve Haughey. This cost was covered by a request of the Endowment Board.
The Financial Steward Team and the Stewardship Committee have all but wrapped up the most successful campaign in St. Paul’s long and illustrious history. While we are short of the lofty goal we set with the Mission and Ministry Budget in October, we have still raised more in pledges that ever before. We still need more to fully fund two priests and everything we aspire to be and do so please examine your conscience and personal budget further to see if you can choose to pledge rather than give in other special ways or maybe even increase the pledge that you have already made. I am so proud of all of you that answered the call to increase your pledge for 2021. We will be hiring a consultant to assist us with a Capital Campaign to begin in 2021, as well.
The Human Resources Team has worked diligently, as well. We have identified all ministries and the leader of each, asking them to prepare and deliver a Job Description for our Personnel Manual. This task is complete. We have completed a Spiritual Gifts Assessment and are seeking the proper timing for rolling that out so be on the lookout in your in-boxes, mailboxes and online. We have also completed a job satisfaction survey for paid staff and will have it completed by staff on an annual basis. Fr. Ray has worked closely with this team and has been an extremely valuable resource for us. His experience and talents are immeasurable.
Our delayed Rogation Sunday in the Park was a clear example of how much we miss being together. Thanks to our beloved Clergy, our Music Men and the Parish Life Team, about 75 of us got to share the liturgy and a wonderful meal together in a most meaningful way.
2021 is now upon us, thanks be to God. I am never one to wish days away as each one is such a gift and opportunity but 2021 offers so much promise, mainly the promise of herd immunity rather than herd infections. Herd immunity will provide us the opportunity to be back in our beloved, most sacred space on a regular basis and without set numbers in attendance. That is still off in the distance but it is a source of great excitement for me. For that I can hardly wait.
One more thing that the pandemic gave the diocese was regular meetings of the Clergy on Tuesday mornings and the Wardens on Tuesday evenings with Bishop Skirving and Canon Mollie Roberts. It was a much-needed time of collaboration and support for us all. These meetings will continue ad infinitum as all found the great benefit in them. We met weekly during the first of the scourge and now meet bi-weekly. Huge thanks go out to our leaders in Kinston for going this extra mile.
We are now about going through the throws of wrapping up our year with finding people that want to contribute to the joyful, rewarding work of the church by serving on the Vestry. We need five seats filled and hope to present a slate of ten candidates at our Annual Meeting on January 24th. Some of you are already on a list of “hopefuls” to call. If you are interested, or know of someone who is, then please reach out to Steve Haughey, Jan Vick, Joe Farri or me. If it is easier for you, then you can leave a message at the church (910-762-4578) on the new phone system and one of us will call you and/or the person you recommend.
The Clergy and I are also working on the Annual Meeting. While the details are not yet set, we hope to have a total of 50 in the Nave and overflow up to 50 in the Parish Hall with the live streaming. There will also be a Zoom link available for private, electronic voting. There will be an individual monitoring and recorded those discrete ballots. Those attending in person will vote with the traditional paper ballot.
As my stint as your Senior Warden comes to an end, I have so many to thank for your help and support so I will not try to name them all for fear of leaving someone out. That being said, there are those that must be mentioned. To my Vestry, I give special thanks for all your dedication and hard work as we shifted gears from a Ministry led team to one focusing on the Strategic Plan without losing touch with the ministries that you hold near and dear to your hearts. To the Clergy, you have weathered the pandemic storm with such style and grace providing your flock with spiritual nurturing and guidance every day. You entered an empty Nave and preached, seemingly to no one. Each week, however, 50 or more watch live and another 60 or so watch later. To Ronnie and Richard, you both continued to add so much beauty to our stream with regular choristers and otherwise perfectly blending music with the liturgy. We are so fortunate to have you all.
Last, but surely not the least, are all of you that have stayed steadfast in your support of all that is St. Paul’s and me. Your support, love and prayers when my mother died were palpable for so long. Outside of those dark days, you continued to support me with words of encouragement and continued to support your Parish as best you could. I cannot ever repay the love and support that you have given me and I cherish each and every one of you.
With my undying admiration and love,