The Rector’s Vision
Part 1: Building Up the People of God
Dear People of St. Paul’s,
The early months of 2021 were spent in discernment with you from afar as I prayerfully considered your Parish Profile and supporting materials for application as your next rector. It is hard to believe that a year has passed since then. After arriving in mid-July and officially beginning ministry with you on August 1, now is a good time to reflect on why I felt called to St. Paul’s in the first place.
When I think about my whole process of discernment with you, one particular word comes to mind: Building. I am a builder, and that is why I felt so connected to St. Paul’s during the search process. The foundation is solid and there is much opportunity to build here. So, perhaps the best theme for St. Paul’s in 2022 is “Building.”
St. Paul writes to the Ephesians, “But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” – Ephesians 4: 15-16
I have been so impressed with the way St. Paul’s has worked together over the years to build up the church. It will take all of us to accomplish the vision for 2022. We are the body of Christ and we can accomplish much if we work together using each member’s God given time, talent, and treasure. God will bless all of the building if it is God’s will for St. Paul’s. God has brought us this far. Our job is to be faithful to the next steps, to receive the vision and God willing, work together to fulfill it. We will be doing this not for ourselves but for generations yet unborn. Therefore, I humbly submit to you my vision for St. Paul’s in 2022 and beyond.
We are an outlier in the Church. We are growing! Our membership is growing every week. To be able to maintain our growing congregation, we will need to continue to have the right staff and volunteers in place. Our Human Resources branch of the Strategic Plan has worked diligently to create platforms and opportunities for ministries to thrive. As we grow, we will need to continue building on this component of the Strategic Plan, ensuring our membership is engaged in the mission of the church and supported in times of need.
Since I arrived in August, I have appointed two new additions to the staff. April Cook joined us in September as Parish Administrator. We are very grateful to Louise Buck for her work as the Interim Parish Administrator over the spring and summer.
The Reverend Catherine Powell joined the clergy team as part-time Priest Associate in November. What a blessing she has been in just this short time. We anticipate her returning from her time away in February.
Over the course of 2022 I plan to continue to build a paid staff that aligns with my initial vision communicated to you the week of our Celebration of New Ministry back in October.
1) A creative approach to funding additional clergy and program staff to help us maintain and support our growing congregation in the areas of liturgy and music, pastoral care, community engagement, and Christian formation of all ages
This has already begun with the addition of our Priest Associate. There is more to come.
2) A strategy to attract and retain children, youth, and families
This strategy is already being implemented. To build on the solid foundation laid by our Children’s Formation team, I asked Martha Whitesides, in late August, if she would work with the team and with me to discern what is needed at this time to develop a strategy. Martha has an extensive background in children, youth, and family ministry. We are already well on our way in preparing to hire a part-time person to help us minister to this growing segment of our church’s membership. That staff position is intended to be filled by June 2022.
3) Additional assistance at St. Paul’s in the areas of communications, technology, and campus upkeep.
To support a growing congregation we need to support our faithful volunteers who have been carrying the load for many years. Might I add that they are happy to do it and really good at it? We need additional support staff in the areas of communications, livestreaming, and technology, as well as a sexton who will open and close our doors and assist in the parish hall and kitchen during hospitality events.
Stay tuned for next week’s focus: “Building on a solid foundation.”
With faith, hope, and love I am faithfully yours,
Part 2: Building on a Solid Foundation
St. Paul’s has a legacy in Wilmington and the diocese of being strong in worship and music. Worship and music are big reasons why people come to St. Paul’s. This is what initially attracted me to you. As one colleague recently put it, we are “a sleeping giant.” We are already doing what others could only hope to do. But we are not finished.
Status quo is not an option. As has already been displayed, we are increasing our offerings of worship and music and will continue to build new member and youth involvement in these areas. Under the direction of Organist and Choirmaster, Ronnie Wise, St. Paul’s will once again utilize the Royal School of Church Music Chorister Program. Pending the status of the pandemic, we will begin this program in the fall. This will be preceded by a Fine Arts Camp in late June that will assist us with publicity and recruitment. Our 2022 budget reflects an increase in financial support for worship and music.
Stay tuned for next week’s focus: “Building with a better campus.”
With faith, hope, and love I am faithfully yours,
Part 3: Building with a Better Campus
We are blessed to have the leadership of the Gentlemen of Noble Poverty and the St. Fiacre Guild who faithfully care for the ongoing maintenance of our buildings and grounds. They will continue to do so. Much work over the years, and within the Strategic Plan, has gone into imagining the future of our church campus.
The Facilities Team, with architect Gray Hudson, has worked very hard to produce a phased long-range plan that, if funded, will propel St. Paul’s into being more accessible and functional, all while meeting the guidelines of our historical status in the community. The new and improved campus is in reach, but we need to fund it. Therefore, much of the upcoming year will be devoted to building the proper team and getting started on the next leg of the journey with our long-range plan. We will need to work together to find the appropriate servants of God who will help us with the next phase of work with the Facilities Team and fundraising.
We have a task ahead of us. Let’s build together.