As the two churches want the partnership to be self-directed, so the shared, full-time pastor they call can focus on pastoral care and preaching, not the cooperative functions of the parish. “Those skills are the jobs of our parish council, of our people. We’re the ones who have to run the partnership, not depend on the pastor to do that,” Florine said.
A multi-point parish is not a merger, and both will retain their own constitutions. The Parish Council, with three members from each church, meets quarterly and will focus on high-level, partnership issues, while the individual churches still make more specific decisions.
For example, St. John’s has a parsonage and will manage housing for the pastor, while St. Mark’s will manage shared financial payments like salary.
“We listened to those who had gone through the process, and are trying to build upon that,” Jerry said, since the Synod helped Coastal Bend find example agreements from other multi-point parishes. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, but to help make it better so someone in the future can use that same tool we’ve developed, and build it in a better fashion.”
“I think the key to all this is both churches have spent time listening to God and letting God lead us where we are to go,” Florine said. “Both of our churches are very excited about this. It’s been a really positive feeling of anticipation of what there is in the future. We’re just at the very beginning, and it’s a learning curve,” she added with a laugh.