Sunday, February 05, 2006
Dear Members and Friends of St. John’s Church:
What a joy to be joining you in time for the beginning of our liturgical year and the coming celebration of our Savior’s birth!
Jane and I are so grateful for the confidence the members of your Search Committee and the Vestry have placed in us. You have welcomed us into a true community of Christian faith and fellowship. All our visits and particularly this past weekend at the Christmas Fair have revealed a parish that is vibrant and confident in its daily mission and its hope for the future. We begin this journey of faith together in that hope that only Christ’s love can give us.
While I pledge there will be nothing tentative or interim about the effort I bring to the task … the life and future of the parish depend on you, who have remained faithful through so many changes over the years. As a member of St. John’s put it the other day, “Change is hard!”
Of course it is -- for all of us. I realize that there is an inherent uneasiness created by the arrival of someone unknown. Just walking in the door and up to the altar next Sunday will bring change. Even were I not to alter a single thing from the service that was celebrated today, change will take place just by a new rector’s presence. But I pledge that we will face any possible changes together. It is one of the great strengths of our tradition that clergy and congregation share in shaping our worship together. In that spirit, I assure you that no substantive change will happen without having been thought through, at length … together.
I hope to spend a great deal of my time listening to you. I want to know your stories – your joys, sorrows, hopes and fears -- as you are comfortable sharing them. I want to share mine with you, as you care to hear about them. I want to share with you the Good News of Jesus Christ as I live it. I want to learn and be blessed by your encounters with Christ.
Whatever this next year holds for us all, I assure you that everything we do will be done together and will be guided by the love Christ promises to those who come together in His name. I pray that together: we find and worship God with a renewed depth and integrity; we become better stewards of both the great legacy and exciting potential of St. John’s; we welcome all who come through our doors –- and that they will be drawn through those doors by the example of the love we show to them and to each other.
I thank The Reverend Christina Vanlieu, who has served you as Associate. I honor her ministry among you as pastor, priest and teacher. And I hope to learn from her in the time we serve you together.
I again humbly thank the Rector Search Committee and the Vestry for the opportunity to serve you. They represent St. John’s at our very dynamic best. I pledge to repay their selfless hard work in kind.
Thanks particularly to Chris Randolph, Bill Parsons, Fred LaMarca and Clay Richards. They took the long trip to Bristol, Connecticut to hear me prior to offering a call. They asked good probing questions and they gave thoughtful, candid answers about your expectations and requirements. Thank you, Trudy Calabrese and Kathi Fusco for your gracious hospitality and blessed wizardry in coordinating the details of our move to the rectory. Above all, I thank you, my new brothers and sisters in Christ, for your warm welcome to the St. John’s family and for your kind invitation to journey together.
To serve as your interim rector will be a privilege, an honor and a profound responsibility. I take it on with all that I am and hope to become with your help and God’s grace.
Wishing you a blessed week and looking forward to seeing you very soon, I am,
Yours in Christ,