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St. James October Epistle
Here is the link to the Epistle: October Epistle
St. James Episcopal Church | 3225 East Minnehaha Parkway | Minneapolis, MN 55417
612-724-3425 | |
A Word from Your Transition Priest

It has been quite a beginning of autumn for St. James.  You probably know by now that our Parish Administrator, Beth Harvey, was taken seriously ill on September 12 and has been hospitalized ever since.  As of this writing she has been moved from Hennepin County Medical Center to a rehabilitation hospital for further treatment.  We have no prognosis to offer, other than to say that improvement continues, but at a painstakingly slow pace.  We continually remember Beth in our prayers.  Her sister has asked Beth if she is up to seeing visitors and Beth has requested that only family and her pastoral visitors from St. James and St. Davids in Minnetonka come to see her.

Many of you have very kindly offered to help with the tasks normally accomplished by Beth.  I have been able to parcel out some of them and will do more as I figure out how that might work, since I’m finding my way through what needs to be done and who knows how to do it.  But to all, thank you!

In other news, you will perhaps be as surprised as I was to read the letter that follows this note. I have found Bishop Prior to be a luminary among church leaders and I will miss him when he departs. Ironically, I have recently been appointed to the Council of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.  I have not attended my first meeting yet, so I can say nothing more about it.  But I am glad that St. James will have yet another connection to the wider Church.

Meanwhile, back at St. James, the Sunday morning forum continues at 9:30 in the Gallery. Beginning this Sunday we will take a close look at the Eucharistic liturgy in the  Book of Common Prayer .  So come and join us as we explore the structure, meaning, symbolism, and theology of our dear  BCP!
William +

PS - Please take the time to read through everything that we've put together for you. Placing all of these news items in an effective order is something that is still beyond my capabilities. And as I write this I am also trying to insert photos. I have managed to get 3 into this mailing, but they are small, and two are placed at the end. A reward for reading every good word that's here!
An Important Announcement from Bishop Prior

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

With the beginning of my 10th year of serving as the Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota on the horizon, and after much prayer and conversations, the Spirit has led me to believe that it is time to begin the process of calling the 10th Bishop of Minnesota. 

The question inevitably is, why now? ECMN is clear about its calling to engage God’s mission of becoming the Beloved Community. In every corner and in countless neighborhoods faithful Episcopalians are participating in the Jesus movement through building relationships and cultivating partnerships across the great state of Minnesota.

ECMN is incredibly healthy. We are blessed to have great clergy and lay leaders, a phenomenal Team of Missioners and very competent leaders at all our affiliates. Our Elected Bodies and our Mission Areas are functioning at a high level of collaborative leadership. We are, and have been for a number of years, very financially solid; including being debt free on all ECMN properties. 
Why now? Because what I have learned in over three decades of leadership and ministry development is that the best time for leadership transition is when the organization is healthy, has strong shared leadership, and a clear sense of its mission. ECMN is in a great position to expand its capacity for engaging God’s mission of the Beloved Community. 

Serving as Bishop of ECMN is an incredible privilege and an immense blessing. I absolutely love serving as the Bishop here. And that, too, is why now. Because I believe others should have the opportunity to serve in such a Spirit-filled place with such gifted people. It’s a great time for me to get out of the way and create space for the Spirit to bring whom you will bless next as you have immeasurably blessed me. 

My family and close friends know that for years I have had a countdown app on my phone that marked the date I was eligible to activate my pension. That date was a little over a year ago. During the last year, Staci and I began to discern what a next chapter might look like for us and our family. Bishop Todd Ousley, Bishop for Pastoral Development, Presiding Bishop Curry and a few close colleagues and confidants have walked with us during this time and we are exploring a myriad of possibilities to use our gifts for God’s mission. Staci and I would greatly appreciate your prayers. 

The election of your 10th Bishop will be at our ECMN Convention. The Ordination and Consecration of your 10th Bishop will be in February of 2020. Between the election and the Consecration I will take a portion of that time for my unused sabbatical. In short order, the Standing Committee, working with Bishop Ousley will call a search Committee and Transition Committee. 
As ECMN begins this season of discernment for the 10th Bishop, we will continue to engage God’s mission of the Beloved Community. As always, I invite all of us to pray deeply and participate fully. 

The Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior, IX Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota 
This Sunday — Special Potluck Luncheon and Conversation

This Sunday, 7 October, from Noon to 1 PM, St. James members who visited our friends in Haiti in June will lead a conversation about the rich and extraordinary experience that they shared. Bring a delicious dish to share and look forward to a good time!

Dinner with At-Taqwa Mosque: 
How We Got There. Where We’re Going.       
by Max Athorn, on behalf of the Abrahamic Tri-Faith Working Group

It’s now more than 24 months sinceRuth Anne Olson, Monica Herrera and I first met at Nokomis Beach Coffee Shop to discuss ways that St. James might enter partnerships with communities of Jewish and Muslim faith, and to consider the viability of creating a Tri-Faith center. Since then the project has gone through different phases.

The height of its visibility was July 4, 2017, when the Working Group from St. James (now expanded to include Rebecca Hamblin) joined with Jewish and Muslim leaders to host  This is America!  on our own front lawn. The event was a wonderful accomplishment for St. James, and it brought to many at St. James a great deal of perspective and gratitude. However, it did not yield a clear path forward. The friendships we made planning  This is America!  are meaningful to us, but the original purpose of our work - to explore the viability of a Tri-Faith center - did not gain needed traction. None of the people we collaborated with in the event’s planning and execution had the time, money, or people to offer in that longer pursuit.            

By early 2018, our Working Group(now also including Pat Morley) charted a new trajectory. The transcendent value of planning  This is America!  was the quality of developing relationships. So we decided to shift — to make relationship-building our overt focus.

At that time, Ruth Anne and Pat began volunteering at the monthly neighborhood food shelf hosted by Masjid At-Taqwa on Como Avenuein St. Paul. Their growing friendship with Imam Mohamed Elfallahled to an invitation to St. Jamesians in May to attend an At-Taqwa Iftar dinner during Ramadan. In an effort to cultivate that relationship further, our Working Group invited Mohamed and members of his congregation to dinner at St. James. 

And, on September 4, in the gallery of St. James, Mohamed and other members of At-Taqwa joined Ruth Anne, Pat, Rebecca, Fr. William and me, for dinner. 

It was a delight. We talked about going to mosque, and going to church. We showed them our beautiful worship space, (and in sharing it with our visitors, I think we all looked at it in new ways). We talked about prayer and cultural expectations for worship. We also talked about our kids, and public schools, traveling, and food. We prayed together. We laughed together. We made friends.

At the end of the evening Imam Mohamed expressed the intention to reciprocate the invitation, that we might join them at At-Taqwa to learn more about their traditions and to immerse ourselves in their space as they had allowed themselves to immerse themselves in ours.

I hope that can happen. However, more important than that, I am ready to stay alert, curious and aware of the ways that we as parishioners, at a predominantly white middle class South Minneapolis church, can make meaningful multi-cultural and multi-faith connections. You’ll see below one such opportunity coming up soon on October 25. 

I invite you to stay curious to the same possibility, and lets seek these opportunities together so that we can make meaningful relationships with new friends. In doing so, I think we’ll grow closer to each other, too.
11th Abrahamic Traditions Dinner

This is the 11th dinner hosted by the Niagara Foundation — it’s the 4th in which St. Jamesians will participate!

This one, focusing on the arts, promises to be different from any before. It’s theme is Birds of Longing: Exile and Memory. Textile artist Laurie Wohl will show her work and Voices of the Sepharad will celebrate rich multicultural music, dance and storytelling.

The event is free. Thursday, October 25. 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Sabes Jewish Community Center, 4330 South Cedar Lake Road, in Minneapolis. Learn more at

Hint.  St. Jamesians have a history of waiting too long to register for events such as this, only to find that there’s no room at the inn.

Chat (and Eat!) on Oct. 7 with June Travelers to Haiti 
by Susan Maas on behalf of the St. James Haiti Committee

Each time St. James sends a new delegation of parishioners to our partner parish of Bonne Nouvelle in Bigonet, our perspective on life in this close-knit mountain community in Haiti expands and deepens. Hopefully by now you’ve read the reflections of youth travelers Leah Morley and Shakira Ryines in the August  Epistle ; each came back with her own unique take on our special partnership – and on the beauty, joy, and challenges of daily living in Bigonet. 

Shakira and Leah have more stories to share – as do their fellow travelers, Fr. William, Louise Robinson, and Kurt Hall.   Hear more about their June trip, ask them questions, and enjoy a slideshow sampler of their photos at a potluck at St. James on Sunday, Oct. 7, right after the 10:30 liturgy . The Haiti Committee will supply main dish(es); you’re invited to bring a side dish or dessert. Mark your calendar for this fun and informal fall gathering!

In related news. The Haiti Committee continues to receive regular school budget updates from Pèr Sonley Joseph, priest in charge of Bonne Nouvelle Parish (and several other Episcopal parishes in the Lèogâne region). The most recent report, with figures from May and June, showed school operating expenses of $2,908, with St. James parishioners contributing $1,539 and Bigonet parents contributing $1,407 in tuition. (That’s in addition to in-kind contributions of volunteer labor that Bigonet parents regularly contribute to the school.) Bonne Nouvelle families’ consistent dedication to education continues to stagger us.

And they deeply appreciate  your help, too. As Pèr Sonley wrote, “I would like to let you know that the community of Bonne Nouvelle is really grateful, as you know, for the blessed relation with St. James. Myself personally, I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the committee of St. James in Minneapolis this year.  I am so appreciative of the love and commitment you manifest in the partnership with Haiti .” 

We’re looking forward to celebrating that love and commitment with you all on Oct. 7!
3 Church Initiative Continues, Asking Questions

Senior Warden Louis Hoffman recently reported about the progress that the "Group of Six" from Lake Nokomis Lutheran, Living Table UCC, and St. James have made on the 3 Church Initiative. He asked that we look for information about an Advent joint event and information from the Vestry soon. 

The Group of Six's goal is that each church make a decision at its annual meeting in December or January as to whether and how to move forward. There are more questions than answers. The group needs your questions to know how to proceed. In addition to your questions to Wardens and Vestry Members by e-mail, telephone, and text or in person at coffee, look for a congregational meeting in November or December. The goal is to make sure that you know everything – “what we do know and what we don't know and must figure out - so we, together, can make an informed, prayerful decision in January.

Treasurer’s Report:  January-August

As summer ended, pledge payments were still about $3,000 below budget; we should be doing better. However, “other income” continues way better than budget, a very good sign. Our bottom line for total income is almost $13,000 better than expected. Expenses remain well under control.   Good news for your Treasurer! And if pledges now come up-to-date, he’ll feel even better.

YTD Budget YTD Actual over / (under)
Pledged Income 89,446 86,723 (3,173)

Other Income 46,288 61,802 15,514

Total Income 135,734 148,525 12,791

Expenses 128,200 126,381 ( 1,819)

Net 7,534 22,144 14,610

Meanwhile, five non-budget, non-operating funds are all in healthy shape: Piotrowski memorial, $2,100; Mary Anderson memorial, $1,100; Haiti, $12,600; Tri-Faith, $3,900; Building assessment, $1,700.—  Tony Morley

Finance Committee Starts Work on 2019 Budget

By direction of the Vestry, Treasurer Tony Morley and a re-established Finance Committee have begun work on a 2019 parish budget. Their intention is to propose a budget that reflects the St. James mission “braid” (worship, learn, serve) and takes account as well of ongoing collaboration with other neighborhood churches.

The committee is responsible for general oversight and analysis of parish finances. Serving with the treasurer are Cliff Athorn, John Heintz, Mary Nease, and Kerry Nelson.

Let’s Keep in Touch
by Ruth Anne Olson

Communication is a big deal, and there are lots of tools at hand to help St. James keep in touch with members, friends, and parishioners-of-the future. So how can it be, repeatedly, that we hear of people left out of parish opportunities, because they “didn’t know”.

In September, the Episcopal Church of Minnesota (ECMN) hosted a workshop for Episcopal parishes — guiding each to a communication plan and offering technical assistance to assure that it can be fulfilled. Beth Harvey’s illness meant she and I couldn’t attend as a team but, for me, it was a day rich with information and practical to-dos for how to get the job done. 

At the workshop, I identified nine ways that St. James staff and volunteers regularly and officially communicate — to the parish and to the world at large — what’s happening in the parish. Quiz Question 1: Name six of those nine. (Answers below.)

I also identified a couple ways that could make a difference if we could ever get around to them. Are there more than two?  Probably. Quiz: Name strategies that would be great, if someone had the time.

For it’s October meeting, I’ll offer to the Vestry a plan: for sustaining the things we already do and to move closer to the things we wish we could do. If you have ideas to offer, let me know: < >.

In the meantime, stay tuned!