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