Vestry members and our rector recently read the following statement at Sunday liturgies:
Angels are messengers of God, and who is to say how God delivers the message! We the rector and Vestry of St. Margaret's today want to acknowledge the messages we have received in recent weeks, messages of joy, messages of anger, messages of confusion, messages of expectation. And this morning we would like to accept those messages and begin what we are calling a Year of Nurture at St. Margaret's.
Nurture involves sustenance and produces growth. To nurture is to nourish, to feed, to help grow, to cultivate. To nurture also means to cherish, as with a hope, a belief, an ambition, or a goal.
For our purpose engaging in a Year of Nurture will require vision, forgiveness, discipline, focus and goals, as well as a sense of humor. So our nurture in the year ahead will compel us to grapple with problems, show some imagination, and above all get going in a spirit of love. Our mission of nurture includes our priest, our nine Vestry members, and every one of you.
To begin this Year of Nurture, we conclude with words from the service of Compline, a service that Christopher+ and the Vestry use after ending our monthly meetings: "Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in peace; and let your blessings be upon us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord." Amen.
A Message from the Rector
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Psalm 51:2 NRSV
Priests pray as we wash our hands over the lavabo bowl before communion. The altar server is usually the only one privy to what is prayed. The Book of Common Prayer does not include instructions for the actions of washing and prayer so this is optional, depending on parish tradition and the priest's personal theology. I pray a variation of Psalm 51:2, asking God for forgiveness of my sins and the ability to minister to this parish.
One of the experiences of being a priest is the need to hold conversations in confidence. I'm aware that members of the parish experienced pain over some of my actions and over not knowing the full story.
St. Margaret's is very dear to my heart. As the 2014-2015 Discernment Committee was aware, I had previously been offered a parish position in another diocese that I declined because I knew in my heart of hearts that I would discern another call within a few years. I researched several parish profiles -- 40 in all -- and St. Margaret's consistently remained in the #1 position. I applied, being one of 17 applicants, of which twelve were forwarded to the Discernment Committee from the diocesan office. I am grateful that the Holy Spirit's process brought us together.
I know that my letter of intention to seek another call caused bewilderment and pain for some parishioners. For others, this caused great rejoicing. I apologize for the pain this caused some of you.
I am also aware that my subsequent statement of intention to stay was perceived by some as indecisiveness. What happened behind the scenes was that numerous parishioners called me, asking to set up times to meet. I also received e-mails and cards. I was astounded by the number of people who shared that they were enthusiastic about how God is working with them, the rest of the parish, and me, and that they felt it would be a mistake to sever the relationship. I prayed about this, had conversations with Bishop Lane, vestry members, and other trusted people before coming to clarity about openness to stay at St. Margaret's in light of this new information.
Reconciliation has happened in some relationships. Others have not been resolved and I am open to the possibility of the Holy Spirit's healing movement within them when the time is right. I continue to pray for reconciliation with all parishioners and hope that my words and actions will work toward that goal.
The Discernment Committee listed three main goals for calling me as Rector of St. Margaret's:
1. Find creative ways to move St. Margaret's into the 21st century, making this parish a welcoming place for all.
2. Provide fresh energy and leadership to youth outreach.
3. Continue St. Margaret's leadership role in the community.
I understand now that I underestimated the majority of the parish being committed to these goals and your desire to be a vibrant and loving parish. I apologize for underestimating you and your commitment to our parish community.
As always, I am committed to Holy Conversation with you, where we approach one another with open hearts, intention for deep listening, and awareness of God's presence among us. Please let me know if you want to talk and we will get together in person to pray, listen, and discuss. To date, I've been in over 50 parish households during my nearly 2-½ years at St. Margaret's. I'm happy to talk with you in your home, if you prefer to meet outside the office.
Thank you for sharing in this ministry with me.
Peace and blessings,
14th Rector of St. Margaret's