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Joint Vestry Meeting - January 24, 2019

The Vestries of St. Martin’s Church, Radnor and Christ Church, Ithan met on January 24, 2019. 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.