Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our annual meeting and the St. Paul's Cross recipients for 2011

We had a terrific parish potluck supper Sunday evening, followed by the annual meeting. Vestry members hosted tables, and each table had a theme, ranging from "Happy Birthday" to "Canada" and a lot else. You just had to have been there. All of them were wonderful, and I table hopped a bit and sampled the delicacies at each table -- rector's privilege!

At the annual meeting, we reported on our finances (we finished the year with a small surplus) and gave reports on ministries and highlights from the year.

Then continuing a tradition begun last year, I gave The St. Paul’s Cross to seven individuals, and I will tell you more about them below.

I want to be clear about the purpose of this. Many, many people are deserving, and by singling out the few, I am aware that I am in danger of slighting the many.

So please do not think of this as an “award” for service. Rather, those chosen represent a cross-section of ministry in this church, and join with many as the backbone of all we are and do here. They have given of themselves in extraordinary ways but sometimes are not noticed. There are many people I could recognize, it was hard to keep this to seven. So please consider these seven servants as representatives of many.

There are also two caveats to this. Members of the staff are not eligible for the St. Pauls’ Cross, nor are current sitting members of the Vestry. Only one St. Paul’s Cross is granted per lifetime.

And so, with that, here are seven people we recognize and honor for their extraordinary service of ministry this past year:

Her life is founded in prayer, Scripture and service to her family, her church and her community. Her kindnesses are many, her heart gentle, her spirit caring, the very core of her being the epitome of grace. She is wise, witty and patient. In recent years, she’s been an office volunteer, led women’s Bible studies and our Generation Wise group for our retired members of St. Paul’s, and that is just a short list of all that she does and all that she means to us. It gives me great pleasure to give this year’s first St. Paul’s Cross to Louise Sinclair.

She probably would cringe at the word “evangelist” but she is exactly that in the best sense of the word. She’s helped bring many young families into our parish by simply being herself. Her ready smile and irreverent humor brings many through our doors. Her commitment to social justice is deep. She has worked on projects including PACEM and IMPACT. And for two summers, she has organized our Shrine Mont parish weekends. I am very pleased to give this St. Paul’s Cross to Cindy Cartwright.

His gifts of hospitality, humor and friendship represent the best of St. Paul’s. He has served on vestries, conducted adult education forums, and pitched in wherever and whenever he is needed. He brings others through our doors with his inviting gentle way. His commitment to the inclusion of all the baptized is deep, and his giving in the community is boundless. For many years, he has been here nearly every Sunday to coach our acolytes. And he is the founding president of our Integrity Chapter, the organization that works within the Episcopal Church for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian and transgender people in the life of the church. It is my honor to give this St. Paul’s Cross to Buck Smith.

She is a dynamo of energy and commitment, always looking for opportunities to build God’s kingdom in every avenue she can find both inside and outside the church. She exudes ideas and creativity at every turn, ranging from serving the homeless to arranging flowers. She can be found at St. Paul’s in the middle of the week -- and sometimes in the middle of the night -- picking up in-gatherings for the Salvation Army or nursing homes. She has brought drive and prowess to the organizing of the Flower Guild, and now as chair of our Ministry Beyond Our Walls team, she is bringing great drive to our ministries to the poor and neediest in our community. It is with tremendous gratitude that I present this St. Paul’s Cross to Joan Burchell.

He is a life-long learner and a life-long healer in the widest possible sense. With a lifetime of service in medicine, he has brought his considerable talents to bear in guiding our parish and diocese in understanding its responsibilities to the healing of the earth. He’s been a mainstay of our Stewardship team and our Green Team, and in his gentle way, continues to show all of us how the two are connected. He has served in many capacities, including on the Vestry, and as one of our un-official official photographers, he has for years documented the life of this church. It gives me great pleasure to give this St. Paul’s Cross to Dudley Rochester.

Her compassion is extraordinary, and her spiritual grounding is apparent by her words and actions. She meets people where they are, whether learned University professors, street people, choir members or befuddled clergy. Her willingness to do the hard work of caring for all of God’s people is truly inspiring, whether by singing in the choir or serving dinner at the Salvation Army. Her advocacy for the voiceless and the poor is towering. It is no exaggeration to say that she knows nearly every homeless person in Charlottesville by name. She’s organized our efforts with PACEM and reorganized our Ministry Beyond Our Walls team and outreach grants committee. It is a high honor to give this St. Paul’s Cross to Marsha Trimble.

She brings tremendous intellect, organizational skill, and a drive for excellence in all that she does. She is faithful and fearless. Her grounding in the life of the Spirit and her breadth of knowledge is apparent to all who come in contact with her. She has touched many lives in many places, from Bible studies, to committee work, to the councils of the Church and her work in the community. Here at St. Paul’s, during a time of great anxiety between rectors, her inner strength and firm hand on the helm helped guide this parish into our next era. She has the firm conviction that every member of this parish deserves the opportunity to participate, and she’s unafraid to ask anyone to do their part. In this past year, she brought that conviction to bear as she led our Stewardship Ministry Team in its first Every Member Canvass in many years. It is with tremendous gratitude that I give this St. Paul’s Cross to Virginia Ritchie.

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