Vestry Corner ~ September 2022
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. -John 14:12
This verse from John 14:12 was heard by vestry members multiple times over the course of our mid-year retreat. We listened to this verse prior to starting our discussions and reflections and at the end as well. We encourage you to read this verse, and reflect on how it applies to your life and St. James Parish as a whole.
We took care of some official business work during the retreat - including changing our annual meeting from the first Sunday of December to January 8th! In an effort to take advantage of the enthusiasm and energy of a fresh start to the new year as well as allow for more involvement outside the busy season of Advent leading up to Christmas. Additionally, at the Annual Meeting, you will be asked to vote approval to permanently modify the St. James By-Laws similarly for future years. Please let us know if you have any questions about this requested change.
In recognition of several needs and opportunities for lay leadership, the Vestry did confirm Phillip’s suggestion to formally create three new committees of the church. The Personnel Committee will be comprised of a number of appointed members to advise and support the Rector in personnel matters such as organizational structure, job duties and expectations, benefits/employee manual development, and recruitment of new talent to the church. The Buildings & Grounds Committee will be made up of appointees of the Rector also and will advise on all matters related to the parish facilities. The Racial Unity Committee has been created as well and is open for any parishioner to join and will be charged with evaluating how St. James can best and most appropriately advance relationships among people of different racial identities in our community. Finally, the Vestry approved Phillip’s recommendation to elevate the Evangelism Committee to be a St. James Commission going forward in recognition of how critical this group of lay leaders is and how multi-faceted their work is and will continue to be.
Phillip started the weekend by asking us to imagine if we knew we would not fail, what is one thing we would want to do as a parish? The answers around the table included solving problems in our community (homelessness, hunger, broken families), keeping a strong sense of belonging at St. James, increasing our ability to love our neighbors unconditionally, support and lift up the other churches in our diocese, St. James being a place where families walk in and breathe a sigh of relief because they are taken care of, connect everyone to a small group, and for St. James to lead others to Christ through bold and sincere examples of our love for ALL of God’s children. It was an inspiring exercise and we would likewise invite each parishioner to ponder what you feel is the one thing we should do - assuming we could not fail [with God’s help!].
After hearing the story of the Good Samaritan, we then reflected on who each of us felt “our neighbor” is and how we can show them mercy. We talked about close physical neighbors to our St. James Parish campus, including other area churches, our Diocesan church neighbors, the Temple of Israel, the homeless, those who live downtown, UNC-W, the Harrelson Center, and our immediate parish family. We talked about how ultimately everyone is our neighbor and that perhaps a best approach would be to start showing this mercy to those closest to us physically and moving outwards. We also acknowledged the value of asking and learning more about our neighbors so we know how best we can show mercy. Perhaps you help us in this work by reaching out to someone you have yet to meet at St. James and make a connection with them, take advantage of a community offering that can provide race relation education, or visit the Harrelson Center and find a way to offer some of your time towards their good work.
The remainder of the time was spent reflecting on where St. James is now, where we’re going and our hopes for the future. We can tell you with great enthusiasm that there is SO much energy and passion for St. James to be a welcoming place for all to learn to grow in love of God and neighbor - not just in the members of the Vestry & Clergy, but in all of YOU!
-Steve Thomas (Senior Warden) & Leslie Jarrett (Junior Warden)