On Tuesday, September 10, several of the St. Paul's community joined eight other churches and their members, along with community members in Carondelet and the Patch to mourn the deaths of children in St. Louis to gun violence. Even as the vigil was ending, we learned that another child had been shot. Thankfully, that time, the child survived.
Depending on who you listen to in the world of Church practices, you’ll get different opinions on whether or not it’s wise to call the people who attend a church, ‘family’. There are reasons why it’s helpful and reasons why it’s not. Since I tend to use this term to describe what we are at St. Paul’s, I’m going to tell you why I see it as an appropriate term, but also point out the unhelpful aspects of it.
Family language is appropriate because:
Encouraging news from the bishop search team
A satisfactory number of diverse candidates have applied and interviews are beginning. We’ve secured the location for the ordination and consecration of our next bishop. We’ve gotten the date locked down on Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s calendar. Locations are set for meet-and-greet sessions with the bishop candidates.
These are just a few significant accomplishments by the two committees charged with recruiting candidates for and organizing the transition to the new shepherd of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri.
For the bishop search committee—16 members tasked with developing the diocesan profile, soliciting applicants, vetting candidates and presenting a slate—the process has entered the late innings. Chairwoman Debbie Nelson Linck said the search committee has sifted the written applications through a “prayerful, thoughtful and intentional process.” That included a systematic review of the traits—including compassion, energy, pastoral leadership and conflict resolution skills—each prospect would bring to the diocese.
Linck said the committee pushed back its application deadline two weeks because as the first deadline approached, no one had applied. As it turns out, the would-be bishops were simply waiting till the last minute to return their applications. The committee was ultimately very happy with the interest the diocese received.
“We got a sufficient number of diverse applications, which is really what we were looking for and what we're pleased with," Linck said. The final deadline was June 21.
Her committee is now pressing toward the next milestone: After a series of interviews by video call—interviews that are starting now—a smaller cohort of prospects will come to St. Louis Sept. 16-19 for a retreat with the search committee and other diocesan officers. Two days after that, the search committee presents its final slate to the Standing Committee of the diocese.
Transitioning to the Bishop's transition
Meanwhile a second committee has ramped up the work of the transition to the new bishop. The transition committee is charged with hitting all the milestones after the slate of bishop candidates is finalized. That includes planning the election at the diocesan convention, celebrating the ministry of Bishop George Wayne Smith and preparing for the installation, consecration and ordination of the new bishop.
Locking down that date and location was the transition committee’s top priority. The diocese will welcome its 11th bishop on April 25, 2020, in a ceremony at St. Stanislaus Kostka Polish Catholic Parish in St. Louis.
The independent parish is led by Fr. Marek Bozek, who is in discernment to become a priest in the Episcopal Church. The church shares grounds with the Polish Heritage Center, which will host a celebration reception the day of the new bishop’s ordination.
I want to let you in on a little secret. On Saturday morning, a member of our altar guild goes into the neighborhood looking for weeds. She's on a search for the ones that are growing in abandoned lots, and freneticaly blooming along privacy fences by dumpsters. The ones that everyone disregards because they "don't belong". They aren't in a mown yard, they shouldn't grow in the pavement cracks. But that doesn't mean they aren't beautiful and worthy before God.
Carol brings them into the sanctuary. She places them on either side of the altar and, dare we say, she restores them to their proper privilege - God's own creation whole and redeemed. It's not to say that they were ever not God's creation. It's not to say that they weren't beautiful before. But they needed someone to see them. To name their worthiness for the house of God.
Isn't it just the same way with us? We are beautiful. We are precious treasures to God. Yet so often we belittle ourselves, even making choices that leave us next to the dumpters of life. All of us need someone to pick us up and help us get back to our rightful place. That, beloved, is the work of the church.
-- Pastor Rebecca
Churches and church buildings are not just a place to worship on Sunday morning, they are also tools for ministry and can be leveraged to help make ministry possible and successful. Last year a significant roof leak compelled us to look at the stewardship of our facilities. We needed to stop the water coming in, as well as do other important maintenance and upgrades, AND find the money to do it! We realized it was time to focus our energies and resources on being good stewards of our historic and valuable buildings, so we got busy praying, making and prioritizing “project to do” lists, and grant writing – and things started to HAPPEN in an “Outside In” sort of way!
The first thing that happened was filing an insurance claim for hail damage. We received funds for a new roof on our church, parish hall and rectory that will provide close to $230,000 worth of repairs that will cost us only $1,000 (our deductible.) The flat roofs were replaced in May 2018 and the Rectory roof in March 2019. The remaining and most expensive portion – the slate roof on the sanctuary, remains. Last week your vestry met to hear presentations from roofers and vote on which bid to accept. Work to replace the slate sanctuary roof with a new slate roof will begin in late July/early August. The current slate roof is the original roof (with the exception of a few individual tiles replaced here and there) and has served us for 108 years. The next slate roof has a warranty on the materials OUTside for another 100 years of ministry INside!
Last May we discovered extensive tuck pointing needs. Temporary caulking work to the capstones around the top of the parish hall was generously donated to us by Tesson Roofing (our roofing company). We also found cracks and gaping holes in the bell tower, as well as cracks and loose mortar all around the exterior. You’ll see scaffolding go up before Memorial Day to repair the bell tower and work will also begin on the cap stones around the parish hall. Power washing to remove decades of grime and moss will happen to the exterior walls before they are tuck pointed. This work will be completed by mid-July.
We’ve been leveraging our newly-renovated parish hall for an alternative source of income from individuals or groups looking for a safe, attractive space to host parties, meetings and events. This month we have had two such events in our parish hall: a private baby shower hosted by a member and a larger event hosted by an organization of artists.
If you know of an organization or group in need of meeting or event space, please refer them to Pastor Rebecca or me. (Members of St. Paul’s may also use the space for private parties at a discounted “member” rate.) In addition, we plan for St. Paul’s to be used as a wedding venue for people outside the parish, and guidelines (including fees) are in the works. Income from the use of our facilities will help offset the cost of insurance, maintenance and utilities.
Building maintenance and planning have continued this spring, much of it behind the scenes. With the help of Vestry member and Facilities Management Team member Vernon Brown, working with Junior Warden Justin Vitale and Pastor Rebecca, the Rectory has been issued an occupancy permit and is ready for our new Youth Minister, Tilton Yokely, to move in.
Like the rest of our facilities, we’ll leverage the Rectory as a ministry tool for our “Outside In” vision. Tilton will receive rent as part of his compensation, and St. Paul’s will receive his time and talent as our new Youth Minister and 1/3 of the utilities. This won’t have a negative impact on St. Paul’s budget. In fact, it will actually help St. Paul’s financially, because Tilton will bring a roommate who will pay rent and an additional 1/3 of the utilities to St. Paul’s. This income will be used to help offset the costs of maintaining and insuring the building. (In addition to the maintenance and repairs Vernon just made to meet code for occupancy, the rectory was recently tuck pointed, and earlier this year a new roof was put on.)
Rector's Corner posts written by Pastor Rebecca.