See, I am doing a new thing! - March 9, 2023

Senior Warden's Annual Report

See, I am doing a new thing!

That was the theme of our stewardship campaign, and it’s an appropriate theme for this annual meeting. As we look back over the past year, it is clear that God has, indeed, been doing a new thing.

A year ago, our annual meeting was held via Zoom. I remember sitting in my living room, having felt only a few weeks before that I might be being called to be senior warden and feeling a mixture of excitement and a sense of stepping into the great unknown as I listened to the different reports and was elected to the position.

What a joy to find that God was at work and doing a new thing soon after I was elected Senior Warden -- Good Shepherd was going to be providing a new home for the Misa Magdalena congregation-- which soon became Buen Pastor. One of the first things I got to do as senior warden was meet the Rev. Anna Olson, who was heading up that congregation. I immediately felt a sense of God’s presence in the conversations we had.

Our first in-person Holy Week and Easter services in three years were deeply meaningful to me personally, and, I believe, to the congregation as a whole. Holy Week was the first time that we worshiped together with the Buen Pastor congregation. Easter was a beautiful moment of resurrection and togetherness. And then, right after Easter, Father David made the announcement that he was leaving. And we were thrust into an entirely new moment.

See, I am doing a new thing!

With Father David’s last Sunday coming up quickly on June 18, we had a lot of important work to do in little time. And, with God’s help, we did that work, and we did it well.

David and I had already been working with the Ven. Jennifer McKenzie as a mediator to help with issues around finances and communication, and we were blessed to have her help us create a healthy leave-taking. She led us through an off-boarding process with Father David and the vestry that has informed us as we have continued to trust and step into the “new thing” that God is doing here at Good Shepherd.

By the time the transition process had officially begun on June 25, our first Sunday without David, we had already made plans for next steps. Mother Anna and our own Rev. Virginia Brown-Nolan were able to cover the Sundays remaining in David’s contract (he had professional development and vacation weeks remaining), and the vestry had already met and approved an offer of a half-time interim rector position for Mother Anna for three months, which would get us started, and we anticipated extending that contract in the fall.

Rosemary and I had also begun a weekly Update from the Wardens column that appeared in the eVoice and the bulletin. (Later, at Beth Baker’s suggestion, we were able to get the Update from the Wardens onto our website, so that anyone could easily access previous updates. Big thanks to Ray Groshong for his amazing work on the website, which now also has a page devoted to transition news as well!)

See I am doing a new thing!

The Canon for Congregational Vitality, the Rev. Dr. Anne-Marie Jeffrey was with us on June 25 to launch us into the transition and stayed for a question and answer period.

I left that afternoon for nine weeks in Germany and France, and I want to emphasize how important the Deacon’s and Junior Warden’s roles were during the transition time last summer. Kathryn and Rosemary were consistent, strong, and faithful leaders.

Mother Anna co-led and helped Rosemary and me plan the July vestry meeting, even though she had not yet officially begun her time as our Interim Rector. It was a turning point in the transition, and the beginning of a wonderful collaboration with the vestry. I was in France, so the meeting was in the middle of the night for me – I led the first part of the meeting and then handed off the leadership to Anna and Rosemary and went to bed. I was so grateful to see and know that we were in such good hands.

See I am doing a new thing!

Our Fall vestry meetings were very occupied with understanding Good Shepherd’s finances and bringing everyone up to a higher baseline of understanding. Mother Anna’s leadership has been an incredible gift, as we have repaired relationships and gained a much better understanding of —and capacity to do—the vestry’s role in managing the finances of the congregation with the support and input of the finance committee. Out of these really impactful meetings, we came to the clear understanding that we should plan to look for a half-time rector.

The stewardship campaign, led by Shaun Hardy, Ray Battistelli, JasCiel Stamp, and Vanvisa Sivali, was a powerful and prayerful experience for the whole congregation, and a phenomenal success. It is because of their great work, the wholehearted collaboration of the congregation as a whole, and the vestry’s decision to call a half-time rector, that we were able to approve a balanced budget for 2023 for the first time in many years.

See I am doing a new thing!

In the Fall, we were also blessed with the opportunity to collaborate with the Tending Our Soil team (Ray Groshong, Debbie Beebe, Donna Clemons-Sacks, Ray Battistelli, and the Rev. Kathryn McMahon) to approve Good Shepherd’s Mission and Vision statements as well as a Strategic Plan for Good Shepherd. (You can see the Mission and Vision on our home page; and you can read the approved Strategic Plan here.) Having two members of the vestry on the team as well as the deacon has been a true blessing.

The Fall was also occupied with the official Transition Process. The Rev. Dr. Robert Phillips, Canon for Leadership Development and Congregational Care, was a guest at our October vestry meeting. He walked us through the transition process and then came to talk with the congregation in person. We offered a Zoom option and also recorded his remarks/the Q&A; Ray Groshong uploaded the recording to the website.

The official Financial review was launched and we began the Congregational Vitality assessment. We began this with another visit from Anne-Marie Jeffrey, which was also recorded and uploaded to the website.

So, here we are! A strong, faithful community, grounded in God’s love, and trusting in God’s call to love our neighbors and ourselves.

I am deeply grateful to be serving as your Senior Warden. Thank you, and I look forward with hope and anticipation to this next year together.

God is truly doing a new thing. Thanks be to God.




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