St. James' Episcopal - Albion September 2022
In our baptism we promise to proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ, seeking and serving Christ in all persons. In the fall of 2022, the Vestry compiled answers submitted by parishioners about St. James'. The questions and answers are below.
1. Describe a moment in your worshiping community’s recent ministry that you recognize as one of success and fulfillment.
The Rev. Jadon Hartsuff served as our supply priest from September 2021 into May of 2022. From September through December he celebrated Holy Eucharist every other week. Then from Ash Wednesday through Pentecost, he served nearly every week. He also conducted a coffee hour conversation, led a vestry retreat, and attended two vestry meetings. We recognize this period as one of success and fulfillment for two reasons. First, we enjoyed a priest’s preaching and pastoral care for the first time since April, 2019. Second, he studied our situation and communicated his insights using a collaborative method that parishioners could appreciate. We learned that we have a mission in Albion and the resources to pursue it.
2. How are you preparing yourself for the Church of the future?
We are actively looking for a shared priest who can further help us to discern our opportunities and assess our options so that we can transition into the next phase of our mission.
3. Describe your liturgical style and practice for all types of worship in your community.
When we can, we celebrate Holy Eucharist every Sunday as well as on Christmas Eve, Ash Wednesday, and Maundy Thursday. When we can’t, licensed lay people read Morning Prayer. We prefer traditional (rather than contemporary) hymns and services, using Rite II during feasts and ordinary time and Rite I in Advent and Lent. Our overall low-church style has sometimes included incense and bell-ringing. We almost always worship with beautiful music.
3. How do you practice incorporating others in ministry?
We involve lay people as piano and organ players, choir members, ushers, lectors, readers of prayers, leaders of Morning Prayer, a licensed preacher as necessary, acolytes, and members of the vestry and Altar Guild. We stay in touch with our members with phone calls, visits, email, and a weekly “Monday Times.” A licensed Eucharistic Visitor ministers to members who can’t make it to church.
4. As a worshiping community, how do you care for your spiritual, emotional and physical well being?
We are fed spiritually by Sunday worship, prayers, sermons and Holy Eucharist. The vestry starts every meeting with Bible study. Our previous rector led Christian formation sessions every Sunday, and Sunday School for young children continues during the school year.
We enjoy socializing, both after church at Sunday coffee hour and also during the summer at a series of Backyard Evening Prayer services.
We attend to the needs of parishioners in difficult circumstances. A recent example includes our successful delivery of funds raised for home renovations made necessary by a young person’s recent confinement to a wheelchair. We keep track of parishioners who are homebound or hospitalized, visiting them and taking communion to them as desired. We also come together at funerals, surrounding bereft families with care and providing beautiful services followed by receptions to which everyone contributes food and energy.
We make an effort to comply with diocesan requirements for training in Safeguarding God’s Children, Safeguarding God’s People, and antiracism training. We follow diocesan COVID guidelines.
6. How do you engage in pastoral care for those beyond your worshiping community?
We host two recovery groups. We maintain a prayer list. Every third Sunday, we donate extra funds. Some are earmarked for community non-profits while others go ministries of the Episcopal Church.
7. Describe your worshiping community’s involvement in either the wider Church or geographical community.
We diligently pay our diocesan pledge. We have participated in diocesan-sponsored exchanges with other churches. We send our parish leaders to bishop’s workshops and delegates to diocesan conventions. We donate annually to the Bishop Whittemore Foundation.
In Albion, we participate in Healthy Babies Day as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas food drives. Our congregation includes volunteers for (among others) GED preparation, the River Committee, the American Legion, and monthly community food distribution. Our previous rector instituted a Reading Camp. When we ran out of the capacity to continue it, we donated its many children’s books to the local community.
8. Tell about a ministry that your worshiping community has initiated in the past 5 years. Who can be contacted about this project?
Several church members are involved in Albion’s Community Gardens, a collaboration initiated by our rector and senior warden as their project for congregational development training. The project has grown to include three gardens on five acres. The gift of a tractor, paid for by United Thank Offering funds, has enabled efficient cultivation. Last year the gardens reported a vegetable harvest of over two tons, much of which was given away to Albion families. Contact Dick Porter at 517-745-7491.
9. What is your practice of Stewardship and how does it shape the life of your worshiping community?
Our stewardship practice has been shaped by some difficult experiences starting with a devastating fire in 2007. In 2009, our rector resigned and the diocese declared us a distressed congregation. Our comeback has been nothing short of miraculous. We now practice stewardship of our finances and property by observing best practices as required by the diocese We aim for accountability and transparency as we strive to maintain a comfortable home for our clergy as well as a beautiful sanctuary and common rooms that serve the needs of our parish as well as others who use our facilities.
Our ECW chapter is especially appreciated for its entertaining and lucrative fundraising events. These include Purse Bingo, Gift Basket Bingo, a summer garage sale, and a Christmas bazaar.
10. What is your worshiping community’s experience of conflict? And how have you addressed it?
In recent years, we have experienced some serious personality conflicts and sharp disagreements over church policies. Since we strive to be a loving community, we find such conflicts difficult and unpleasant. We have addressed them prayerfully, discussing the issues and seeking solutions that promote the health of the congregation while minimizing the distress of the individuals involved. Consultation with the bishop and canon missioner have helped.
11. What is your experience of leading change in the church? When has it gone well/When has it gone poorly? And what did you learn?
We carefully consider all options and opinions. We have learned to listen to each other and to make deliberate, not precipitous, moves. For example, before we hired a new part-time rector in 2012, we consolidated our two Sunday morning services into one. It was apparent that we couldn’t expect a part-time priest to conduct both an 8:00 Rite I service and a 10:30 Rite II service. So we surveyed the congregation and, with the consent of the majority, moved to a Rite II service at 9:30.
12. If you were to identify the gifts/skills you need in leadership as you move into the future, which words would you use to best describe these? (This should just be a list of four things!) Example: liturgist, preacher, pastoral care, social justice
liturgist, preacher, pastoral care, change management
Answers from Trinity can be found at Trinity Parish Narrative.