Sunday, February 14, 2010

Please come to our annual meeting today

Later this morning, at 11:30 am, we will convene our annual meeting. Please come if you can. Voting for new Vestry members is underway, and the polls will close after our 5:30 pm worship service later this afternoon.

At the annual meeting, we will hear a number of reports on the state of the parish and our finances. And I plan to give the first awards of the St. Paul's Cross to several individuals for their extraordinary service in the past year. You will have to come to find out who they are. They will receive medallions with our logo to the right.

Below is my written report for 2009 that will appear in the published annual report, and I will elaborate on this at the annual meeting. Please do come, and please vote.

Rector's Report for 2009
The year 2009 continued to be a year of transition both for St. Paul’s and for Lori and myself as we settled into our new community of Charlottesville.
At St. Paul’s, we underwent significant staff changes even as we launched new ministries that will have a large impact on our congregation and the world around us in the years ahead.
The Rev. Dr. David McIlhiney, who as an associate rector was a mainstay of St. Paul’s during the interim period, decided to retire at mid-year. I am exceedingly grateful to David for remaining at St. Paul’s for the first year of my ministry among you, and especially for his sound advice and compassionate pastoral care.
In August, we welcomed The Rev. Dr. Ann Willms as our new associate rector for pastoral care. Ann has taken on a myriad of tasks, from hospital visits, to working with several small groups, and liturgical leadership on Sunday. I am absolutely delighted to have Ann as a colleague working with us at St. Paul’s.
Late in the year, Dr. Don Loach retired as music director after more than 37 years in this post. His personal dedication to St. Paul’s is unparalleled, and his dedication to the high standard of music at St. Paul’s will be hard to match. I have appointed Bruce Carveth to chair a search committee to recommend to me a candidate for our next music director. In the meantime, Daniel Hine will serve as our interim music director.
I am very grateful to our office and building staff for their hard work and dedication: John Reid, Tony Potter, Debbie Little, Jaime Jackson and Andre Jones. I am also very grateful to Pat Punch and his newly established Buildings and Grounds Ministry Team for the work they’ve done on several major projects. The building is was in significantly better condition at the end of 2009 than it was at the beginning.
Meanwhile, Joan Albiston and a dedicated group of volunteers, won approval from the City of Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review for the design of a meditation garden on our grounds, paid for with contributions by many of you in honor of The Rev. David Poist when he retired as rector. Construction of the garden should commence in Spring 2010.
At the end of 2008, I mentioned three goals for the life of our parish. Those goals are, I believe, crucial to the vitality of St. Paul’s now and into the future. These goals are foundational to everything I am attempting to do with you at St. Paul’s.
Those goals are:

1- Becoming more intentional in how we welcome new people and help them find a meaningful spiritual home at St. Paul’s.

2- Becoming more outwardly focused as a beacon of Christ’s hope to the community and world beyond our church walls.

3- Deepening and expanding our commitment of ministry to the people of the University of Virginia to enable them to be a beacon of Christ’s hope to the community and world.

We made significant progress on each of these goals in 2009, though we still have much to do. A few developments worth noting on each of those goals:

1- All members of the clergy staff made hospital visits and met with parishioners and visitors. We also launched a 24-hour “hotline” telephone number for emergency pastoral care concerns (434.806.9069).
In addition to our Sunday morning adult education, with the leadership of The Rev. Janet Legro, we reestablished the popular Wednesday Community Night with Evening Prayer and a myriad of adult classes. In 2009, we also laid the groundwork for a Stephen Ministry program for lay pastoral care with the leadership of Ann Willms. You will hear more about this in 2010. We also spruced up our ministry to newcomers, led by Stephanie Bolton and Ann Willms.

2- The Vestry renewed its commitment to an outward focus by allocating $55,000 in grants to organizations in our community, and establishing a new working group called “Ministry Beyond Our Walls” with the leadership of Marsha Trimble and Doug Little. We also contributed $67,000 to the work of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and raised significant funds for Episcopal Relief & Development, the African Development Project and the One Campaign. We hosted homeless people through PACEM, and our own John Frazee was elected president of IMPACT, a coalition of congregations working for systemic change in Charlottesville. Also, with the leadership of The Rev. Neal Halvorson-Taylor and a dedicated group of students and parishioners, we planted and harvested a community garden in a predominantly African American neighborhood. Our youth group completed service mission trips to Mississippi and the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota with the leadership of Janet Legro and Jonathan Schyner.

3- Our ministry commitment to the community of the University of Virginia remains pivotal to the life of St. Paul’s. We held fall and spring convocation Sundays for the University community. With leadership from Neal Halvorson-Taylor, and interns Hannah Trible and Matthew Lukens, our Canterbury Fellowship remained strong and established a Taize service on Tuesday evenings at the University Chapel. In addition, we awarded $184,000 in scholarships to University students through the Skinner scholarship bequest.

As we launch our centennial year, we have much to be proud of, and much work left to do. Again, thank you for the honor of calling me to be your ninth Rector, and thank you for your generosity and spirit that makes all things possible. You truly are the hands and heart of Christ in the world.

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