Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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July 29, 2022

Sisters and Brothers,
 
Thank you so very much for the birthday greetings and gifts. Kate and I are very touched by y’all’s welcome and affection. Your welcome and affection are two of the many virtues this congregation displays that deeply encourage us about St. Bart’s future. I am also very encouraged by y’all’s willingness to embrace a planned process of change. I envision this process as one that will have us emerge from the pandemic as a congregation who has learned from this strange time. This process will also put us on a footing to be a more inviting and inclusive institution for the sake of those in our community for whom we are called to be a beacon of God’s love and grace.
 
This process will begin in August with three meetings of various leaders stakeholders in aspects of our congregational life: 1) Worship, 2) Programmatic Ministries, and 3) Finance and Administration. The first will be after church on Sunday, August 14th and will focus on Worship. I hope that everyone who is, has been, or who may be interested in serving as a Eucharistic Minister, Reader, Intercessor, Usher/Greeter, Acolyte, Altar Guild, or Online Steward will attend. We will talk about reintroducing some roles that haven’t been utilized since the onset of the pandemic. We will talk about the theological ideals that inform broad participation in liturgical leadership. And finally, we will talk about the shape of Sunday morning and what the expectations are around each of these roles and brainstorm what will be the best communication practices for scheduling the rotation.
 
The second meeting will focus Programmatic Ministries. It has not yet been scheduled. At this meeting, we will discuss things like Pastoral Care, Christian Formation, Outreach, Evangelism, Fellowship, and the like. Again, the driving consideration goes beyond what we have been doing. The driving consideration is how to organize ourselves to encourage the broadest participation, AND what more can we do with a broader and deeper pool. Maybe Pastoral Care is something everyone can engage in to help build and nurture our relationships one to another. Maybe Christian Formation can include something other than Bible Study, curriculums, and book studies. Maybe there are ways to make ourselves more visible and available to our neighbors. These are just examples of the topics this conversation could include.
 
The third meeting will be about Finance and Administration. We will talk about how Stewardship and Budgeting can be aspirational and visionary. We will talk about how Reporting and Auditing can be transparent learning and accountability processes that inform our aspirations and vision. We will talk about the best business practices recommended to serve these ministries (and these are ministries). And finally, we will talk about how we, who have heavy involvement with Finance and Administration, communicate information with one another and the congregation and how we can build shared access in an electronic format.

All of these meetings are beginnings to our process of change that will include building a Standard Operating Procedures Manual and a reorganization of our Committee and Leadership Structure. That’s a lot of work to be done. I thank you in advance for what I know will be your enthusiastic contribution to this work. 

Thank you again for all you do. Your brother,
Michael