Guide me into an unclenched moment
I chose this prayer for our St. PJs staff meeting last week. Sensing anxiety around our status as a church without a priest-in-charge, I related personally to some of the images in Ted Loder’s appeal to God. I long to “let go of heavy expectancies”. Today is our reality, and tomorrow will show up eventually, no matter how hard we think we can control what happens. Remember that we are “surrounded by the light” of our divine Creator, and, please God, may we always be “open to God’s mystery”. As a child waits for her birthday, “fill us with that same joy that is you/God.”
into an unclenched moment,
a deep breath,
a letting go of heavy expectancies,
of shriveling anxieties,
of dead certainties,
that, softened by the silence,
surrounded by the light,
and open to the mystery,
I may be found by wholeness,
upheld by the unfathomable,
entranced by the simple,
and filled with the joy
that is you.
The poem is from the late Ted Loder’s most popular book, Guerrillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle. The title is symbolic of Ted Loder’s ministerial life. He graduated from Yale Divinity School and became a Methodist minister who served for almost 38 years at one of Philadelphia’s most unusual churches, known as “The Oddball Church”. Ted’s passion for social justice included marching with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama; guiding his church as a Public Sanctuary for Guatemalan refugees denied asylum; supporting the ‘Covenant Against Apartheid’; and, more recently, becoming a ‘reconciling congregation’ who worked for full inclusion of homosexual persons in the Methodist community.
The Spirit of our God is at work in our midst, too… “Guide us, Holy One” to keep the faith and continue to rejoice in our God-given gifts today. We give thanks for the ministry of our seasonal supply priest, The Rev. Nathan Empsall. Nathan’s ability to be spontaneous in his ‘welcomes’ and ‘blessings’ is inspiring. Come and share worship tomorrow!
Epiphany faith for us all,
Tudy, Minister of Pastoral Care
Dear PJs Community,
As we logged in to Zoom last Sunday at 1 pm, it was wonderful to see people's faces smiling in their little boxes. For those of you who were unable to attend, or maybe you were there and would love a reminder of what we discussed, or maybe you're a bit farther astray and curious about what's happening these days at PJs, here is a summary of the meeting!
The meeting opened with a prayer, then a photo slideshow compiled by Claire Cody and set to the music of Will Cleary and Drew Fermo. Special thanks to Tudy Hill, David Hill, and Max Clayton for providing many of the photos! You can rewatch it here:
After reviewing and approving the minutes from 2021, the meeting opened with a report from Robert Sheiman of the Whitneyville Cultural Commons to inform us on how the first year of our partnership has gone, what different groups have been using our building, and some exciting plans for the future. If you ever need to get in contact with Robert for reasons relating to the church building or inquiries about having an event at the church, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert's presentation was followed by reports from our wardens on our worship and community, updates on the priest-in-charge transition, and upcoming improvements to our building (the first step being new accessible, all-gender bathrooms in the hallway opposite the church office!). This report was followed by updates from Tudy Hill, our newly-titled Minister of Pastoral Care, Will Cleary, our music director, and David Hill, our treasurer. Tudy updated us on the work of the pastoral care team, and her roles in leading various aspects of our common worship. Will gave us an overview of tech updates and music challenges that continue through this pandemic, acknowledged the departure of our assistant music director, and mentioned some hopes for the next year of music at PJs. David presented an overview of this past year’s spending, and outlined the budget for this coming year. We closed the meeting by unanimously approving the slate of officers and new Vestry members, ending with a prayer.
The bottom line is that amidst many challenges and changes of the past year, the PJs community is strong and hopeful for the future!
Contact the church office if you're interested in receiving any materials from the meeting.
Dear PJs Community,
Don’t worry, I will spare you from delving into the history of annual parish meetings, annual meetings, or meetings more generally… Instead I’ll just say that you won’t want to miss our annual meeting this Sunday over Zoom at 1 pm! We will reflect on the past year – the accomplishments, challenges, joys, changes, constants that our strong and steadfast community faced – and look ahead to what’s in store for this coming year.
We will hear reports from the Whitneyville Cultural Commons, our marvelous Minister of Pastoral Care, our formidable Music Director, and our trusty Treasurer, plus some updates from myself and my co-warden Brian on where we are as a parish. We’ll also vote in new Vestry members and approve the budget.
By holding the meeting at 1 pm, that should hopefully give enough time for those who have braved the snow to attend in person church to make it home and get some lunch before the meeting, and we should be done before Sunday afternoon football starts! Please don’t hesitate to email or call if you have any trouble accessing the Zoom meeting.
Stay warm, stay safe, and see you all tomorrow!
Dear PJs Community,
We have all heard it enough, “Transition is the New Normal”. But what does that mean for us as a Parish? It could mean anything from predictable unpredictability to turmoil and bewilderment. On Wednesday night, your Vestry met for our regular monthly meeting, and it was reassuring that some things are not changing. There is no change in the dedication, commitment, and faithfulness of this hardworking group. We reviewed our financial situation and with the expert guidance of our treasurer, David Hill, we settled on a budget for 2022 that keeps us solidly in the black. There was also considerable brainstorming around the most obvious issue of finding a new Priest-in-Charge. There is consensus that our priority is the quality and continuity of our worship services. A Priest-in-Charge is part-time, and we think the focus of that time should be on worship.
In years past, a Parish in transition would hire an interim Priest, then spend months writing a “Parish Profile” that the Diocese would use to promote the open position. The Diocese would screen applicants and then provide the Parish a list of candidates. They would be interviewed, and the Parish would pay for any travel expenses, then the Priest would be selected by the Vestry. Obviously, this was a time consuming and resource intensive process. The whole process could last up to 3 years. The current process simply involves the Bishop appointing a part-time Priest-in-Charge that has been approved by the Vestry.
Transition not only describes what we are facing as a Parish, but also what the Diocese of CT and the wider Episcopal Church is facing. While the number of parishes in need of a priest is increasing, there is a shortage of clergy. The turnover is more rapid, Priest-in-Charge appointments average about 3 years. Meanwhile, the number of Diocesan staff working on this process has been reduced. Even God’s work is hampered by the “supply chain” thing! Your co-
warden, Claire Cody, continues to be in conversation with the Diocesan Transition Minister to move our case along and looks forward to her scheduling time to meet with us, because until then our opening won’t even be listed on the Diocesan website. So those members of your Vestry that have contacts in the world of Clergy or the Divinity School are going to start circulating the word about our situation.
So, while “Transition is the New Normal”, patience is still a virtue! The process will take time but realize that your Vestry and Wardens are making every effort to advance our cause. We must also acknowledge the major contributions of our Pastoral Care Team, lay-preachers, musicians, technical team, Altar Guild, Parish staff and Sexton to keep the wheels at St. PJ’s turning. I strongly urge all of you to “Zoom” into our Annual Meeting on January 30th at 1:00 pm to learn more details of our budget, an update on the use of our building, the goals for next year’s Capital Campaign, the approval of new Vestry members and more. You will have to supply your own coffee and cookies! I hope to see you there. A Zoom link will be sent out by email shortly before the meeting.
Finally, I’ll share this "Prayer during a time of transition" published by an Episcopal Church in Texas several years ago during their Clergy search.
“God of love, in this interim time we pray for our Parish family, that we may be genuine in our self-reflection, tireless in our commitment, patient in our discernment, loving in our communication, open in our search, imaginative about our future, and daring in our faith. Be with us as we move forward, empowered by the love of Jesus Christ. Amen."
"Be well, be safe, hold hope and keep the faith"
PJs Wardens and Vestry