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Joint Vestry Meeting - September 26, 2019

The two vestries met on the above date at Christ Church, Ithan in Ithan Hall. The main focus of the meeting was to review the Parish Profile for the Search of a Rector to serve both churches along with the Office of Transition Ministry (OTM) data sheets that will be used by the Diocese of PA for the OTM Portfolio. Outside of a few corrections and suggestions, the work of the Parish Profile Committee was applauded. They worked tirelessly through the summer to gather and collate all the material necessary to produce these two fine documents. Both vestries concurred that the final product was outstanding. These documents will be sent to the Diocese for the Bishop’s approval and they will then “go live” on both parish websites and the work of the Search Committee will commence.

The members of the Search Committee have been selected and approved by the vestries. St. Martin’s representatives will be: Abby Thomas, Steve Parker, Brian Penny, and Sinead Bortner. Christ Church, Ithan’s representatives will be: Pierce Eckhart, Porter Gould, Lori Dugan, and Chris Herring. They will meet soon with our consultant, the Rev. Robert Tate, who will orient them to their work.

When the Profile and accompanying material are posted, applications will be received for a two-month period through the end of November. During that time, the Search Committee will review applications as they come in and begin phone interviews. At the end of the two-month application time, the committee will begin face-to-face interviews and parish visitations as necessary. A recommendation for the call of the Co-Rector to the vestries will take place early in 2020, upon completion of the committee’s work during this discernment period. Following the departures of Fr. Chris and Fr. John, the two churches will be served by two regular supply clergy who will alternate churches from week to week until a Rector is called.

Parish members from both churches are encouraged to stay in touch with their Vestry representatives for progress reports about the search. It is important to note that the work of the Search Committee in regards to individual candidates and applications received is strictly confidential. Once the parish profile is posted, parishioners are welcome to approach clergy they know who may be interested in this position and invite and encourage them to apply.

A report followed about Good Works and the Upper Room, two outreach ministries we jointly share. Fr. John extended a warm invitation to St. Martin’s parishioners to join Christ Church, Ithan as it celebrates its 100th Anniversary on November 10th. He noted that this should be a true celebration of our Covenant, the progress we are making in the search, our shared roots and the future we are making together.

Joint Vestry Meeting - June 20, 2019

The two vestries met on the above date at St. Martin’s Church in Bolingbroke for a dinner prepared by Catering by Design. The dinner was an opportunity for both vestries to socialize and get to no one another better. At the conclusion of the meal, Fr. Bob Tate offered his reflections about the discernment process. He was very complimentary about the work of the Profile Committee and was impressed with the amount of work they have accomplished to date. He informed the vestries of the committee’s desire to continue to press forward on their work into the summer. He believes a final draft of the profile will be ready by September and then the search process can begin. He noted that work also needed to be done on the OTM Portfolio and that the Wardens should work on the first two pages that cover salary and benefits. He encouraged both vestries to think about people to serve on the Search Committee as not everyone working on the Profile wish to remain on that committee. He suggested a broad representation of a good cross-section from both churches. He would like that work to be accomplished by September to coincide with the release of the Profile. The two vestries adjourned to their own meetings.

Joint Vestry Meeting - May 2, 2019

The two vestries met on the above date at St. Martin’s Church in Bolingbroke. The meeting began with an opening prayer. This was the first meeting after Fr. Chris’ return from sabbatical due to Holy Week / Easter conflicts in the April calendar. The meeting was facilitated by The Rev. Bob Tate, our search consultant. We spent most of the meeting assessing the current state of the relationship between both churches and each member spoke about their current hopes and reservations. The conversation was frank and productive. Toward the end of the meeting, the profile committee was charged with continuing its work on the joint profile, which should be completed a few months after the congregational meetings. The parish meetings, facilitated by Bob Tate will take place as scheduled: May 19th at Christ Church, Ithan and June 2nd at St. Martin’s Church, Radnor, to get congregational input for the profile. The meeting ended with a closing prayer by Fr. Chris. The two vestries adjourned to their own meetings.

Joint Vestry Meeting - March 21, 2019

The two vestries met on the above date at Christ Church, Ithan. The meeting began with a shared Scripture passage and opening prayer. January financial reports were shared electronically before the meeting. The Rev. Bob Tate who is serving as the consultant to the Profile / Search Committees was present at the meeting and he outlined in great detail the usual timetable for such a process. He indicated that we had a unique situation and so he was open to making the process adaptable to our needs. However, he did caution that this is not a process that can be rushed as it involved serious discernment and prayer. In addition, there will be some periods of time in the year ahead when not much will get done due to vacations, holidays, etc. So, he thought our original timeline was a bit ambitious and suggested we readjust our expectations to be more in line with some of the observations he made based on his experience in leading many of these processes. The Profile Committee has been formed and had their first meeting, with progress underway.  He distributed a contract outlining his fees and expected costs (approximately $3,000) and asked both vestries to review, sign and return the contract to him. There are some matters that will require further discussion / clarification when Fr. Chris returns from sabbatical and will be followed up on by St. Martin’s Vestry. After he left, we reviewed the Holy Week schedule and Fr. John updated us about the Upper Room and the success of our Lenten program so far this year.  

Joint Vestry Meeting - February 21, 2019

The two vestries met on the above date at St. Martin’s Church. The meeting began with a shared Scripture passage and opening prayer. January financial reports were shared electronically before the meeting. An opportunity was given for vestry members to ask questions about the reports. The focus of the meeting was the formation of a profile committee and the setting of a timeline for the work of the profile committee and eventual search for a Rector to serve both churches. The following people have been commissioned to serve on the Profile Committee: Amy Harper and Pierce Eckhart from CCI Vestry; Porter Gould and Mary Wilson from CCI congregation; Fran Pettit and Joe Piergiovanni from SM Vestry; Matt Wynn and Brian Penny from SM congregation.

Jacqui North presented a proposed timeline for the profile / search. We seek to have a profile completed by the end of April. Applications would be received from May through July. Screening, phone interviews, developing a short list of candidates and visitation to candidates’ parishes would occur from July through September. A call would be extended sometime in September, negotiations completed and announced to congregation in October. Preparations to welcome a new Rector would then occur and new Rector would be in place by the end of 2019. While this is an ambitious plan, both vestries decided to move forward with a willingness to be flexible and make adaptations along the way. There was some discussion about engaging a diocesan consultant. Fr. John is in the process of contacting The Rev. Bob Tate about this. Canon Arlette Benoit-Joseph, the Canon for Transition Ministry, has been briefed about our partnership and plans moving forward and has offered her support in any way she can. She will be taking a two-page profile with her to a regional transition officers’ meeting to let people know about the upcoming call opportunity for our two churches. The first meeting of the profile committee will be announced soon.

Joint Vestry Meeting - January 24, 2019

The Vestries of St. Martin’s Church, Radnor and Christ Church, Ithan met on the above date. The meeting began with a reflection on a selected Bible passage and opening prayer. The vestries reviewed and agreed on “Principles To Guide Our Meetings Together.” The Holy Covenant between the two churches was reviewed and a few minor revisions were made and passed. The members present approved and signed the Holy Covenant. The year-end financial reports for 2018 and budgets for 2019 were presented and there was time for discussion and questions. Some preliminary comments were made about the formation of a profile / search committee and our work ahead and Fr. John briefly reported on a meeting with the Canon for Transition Ministry from the Diocese of PA. A more comprehensive discussion about a profile / search and a suggested timeline was tabled for the next meeting on February 21, 2019.


Holy Covenant

As communities constituted in God’s love in a changing world, we recognize the common challenges we face with declining membership, dwindling financial resources and ongoing maintenance needs for our two church properties.

 

A Holy Covenant

between

The Vestry and People of Christ Church, Ithan

and

The Vestry and People of St. Martin’s Church, Radnor

 

Our two churches have collaborated extensively over the past two years.  During that time, our vestries have grown into new understandings of ministry and what it means to be disciples of Jesus in our world.  We have concluded that we are better together rather than apart.  We seek to live together in the spirit of Jesus Christ in all that we do, and all that we are. We yearn to share one mission, and form one new community finding fresh and creative ways to live the Gospel and to serve God. To that end, at a joint vestry meeting held on October 18, 2018, we formulated the following goals for our Holy Covenant. 

  1. Seek ways to share financial and human resources.  The areas we will explore include:

    • Move to call one Rector to serve this newly constituted community

    • Combine worship services

    • Move to call one church administrator to serve us

    • Call one Property Manager to manage both properties

    • Find ways to share music and Christian formation resources

    • Review current vendor contracts to create greater efficiencies

  2. We wish to better articulate a shared mission that will be exciting, rich and propel us into the future together.

  3. Greatly increase our outreach capacity by dedicating more resources (people, time and money) for this purpose.  We believe a significant portion of our resources needs to support our mission with a goal of 10% (tithe) of combined revenues to be gradually increased over time.

  4. We seek to develop measurable / tangible timelines and scenarios to accomplish this.

  5. We believe the best way to accomplish our goals is to combine our vestries and/or form a joint leadership committee

  6. We support all efforts to get to know each other better by creating opportunities for congregation members to socialize with one another.

  7. Continue and build upon all present efforts at collaboration (pulpit exchanges, bible study, shared Lenten programs, shared worship services, etc.) with special focus in the coming months on the “Good Works” initiative and the forum/worship at The Gryphon Café. We will intentionally expand and accelerate these paths toward growing kinship as time goes on.

 

A draft of this Holy Covenant was presented to both congregations in December 2018 and listening sessions were conducted over several weeks to seek feedback and support of both congregations.

We believe this is a key time in the life of both congregations and indeed, the life of the Church. While the best time to act becomes clear only in hindsight, both parishes’ desire to make decisions from a position of strength rather than from a position of weakness makes “now” the optimum time. A position of strength keeps open the largest number of possibilities in shared ministry whereas a position of weakness limits choices and may result in unpalatable choices.  Having the leadership of two clergy who share a positive relationship and vision for shared ministry also enables this exploration to be possible. 

Each parish by its assent to this Covenant agrees to continue its participation for a minimum of three years and to give at least one-year notice to the other to terminate or substantially alter the terms of the relationship.

Having considered the feedback of both congregations, having consulted with churches in similar relationships and having secured the support of our Bishop and the Offices of our Diocese to move forward, we, the Vestries of Christ Church, Ithan and St. Martin’s Church, Radnor ratify this covenant agreement on January 24, 2019 at a combined vestry meeting held at Christ Church, Ithan.