June 25, 2023
First, let me apologize for the delay in getting this newsletter out to you. It’s just been a matter of overload and travel on my part. So without further time passing us by,……….
There has been a change in the composition of the Christ Church transition team. Damien Lloyd Payne, who led the effort from the start, has decided to step aside in conjunction with the expiration of his term of office as Senior Warden. At the request of the Vestry, David Nandor has assumed Damien’s duties on the transition team. On behalf of the Vestry, I would like to thank Damien for his able and inventive service on this team. His ideas on the collaboration between St. Paul’s, Tivoli, and Christ Church, Red Hook, have provided the basis for our progress to date, and have also provided thoughtful direction for the future shape of the partnership. Damien has ably served Christ Church in many roles, and we are grateful for his leadership, inventiveness, and thought-provoking ideas to lead us into the future. We wish Damien blessings and a smooth path forward in his future endeavors.
Since the last newsletter, the joint transition teams have met with three consultants on church mergers/partnerships. All three consultants proposed programs involving the entire congregations of both churches and, in some cases, hiring them as our interim priest. After careful consideration, the transition teams of St. Paul’s and Christ Church came to the same conclusion: that these programs were not a good fit with the direction we wanted to pursue, that neither church had the people or financial resources for their programs, and the hiring of a priest at this time would place an undue financial burden on each church. Instead, we will continue with our current approach to establishing a collaboration/partnership, and do so at a pace that is comfortable to both churches.
During the visit of Bishop Shin to Christ Church a few weeks ago, he met with the Vestry and provided the following advice regarding a collaboration: 1) the most important aspect of a partnership and joint ministry is the relationships of the congregations. 2) time is not important. Don’t push or rush matters according to a deadline, instead let relationships develop naturally over whatever time it takes. 3) It is difficult, if not impossible, for small churches in small communities to survive alone in these times, and that joint ministries will be the predominant format going forward.
After much discussion, among ourselves, with the consultants, and with Diocesan resources, as well as experimentation into various options on how to proceed, the transition teams arrived at the following:
The eventual hiring of a priest will constitute a joint ministry where the priest will serve both churches in both communities. Expenses for the priest will be shared in proportion to each church’s form of contribution to the overall compensation package. At this time, we are not seeking to fulfill this position, but will continue to use supply clergy for the foreseeable future. We will seek to fulfill this position when the Vestry’s of both churches feel that we can comfortably provide full financial support to a priest and possibly his/her family.
We have established a schedule of joint worship services, with a social hour following, once a month at each church. This schedule will be in place for the summer, with another plan, which has yet to be developed, starting in September. The transition teams believe that this method of integrating the two parishes provides the best opportunity to establish good relationships at a pace that both churches are comfortable with.
Finally, I strongly urge all parishioners to provide your thoughts and feedback to the members of either transition team, whether negative or positive. This is your church. The final form of our church depends on the input of all parishioners as we move forward.
Respectfully and with blessings to all,
Advisor to the Christ Church Vestry
Chair, Christ Church Transition Team