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Report from the Grow Team

Here's the outline of an oral report I gave at St. Thomas' annual meeting today.

  • I'm John Bradley. One of my hats is the facilitator of the Grow Team.
  • First of all, I'd like to recognize the other members of the Grow Team. Please stand. Thanks for your wisdom and hard work.
    • Helen Monroy
    • Gil Ferris
    • Roxanne Gaylord
    • Sam Arnts
    • Cinda Wheat
  • Almost two years ago, the vestry commissioned the Grow Team to look at the big issues our parish is facing in this time and place.
  • We developed a four-part model for parish growth:
    • Serve our neighbors and the community.
    • Invite non-church-goers to visit.
    • Welcome visitors as we would welcome Jesus.
    • Connect newcomers and established members.
  • We wrote a report containing 18 recommendations for implementing this plan.
  • During 2018, we worked on implementing those recommendations.
  • We accomplished a lot. You can read those on page 11 of the annual report.
  • Let me just highlight four of them:
    • First, we provided name tags for parishioners and encouraged everyone to wear them.
      • Most of you are doing so. Thank you!
      • This helps new people learn names.
      • It will help our new rector too.
    • Second, we improved our website and expanded our presence on social media.
      • We now have a presence on all the major social media channels.
      • We currently have 307 followers on Facebook.
      • Audio recordings of Sunday sermon are available on the website, SoundCloud,, and Apple Podcasts. (Thank you Bill Arnts for faithfully recording the sermons and getting them to me quickly.)
    • Third, we created a welcome table in the back of the church, purchased a welcome banner, revised the welcome brochure, and simplified the visitor cards.
    • Fourth, we started quarterly fellowship events.
      • The first event, in November, was a potluck dinner.
      • The second event will be on Wednesday, February 13, at 5:30 pm. We're calling it Pizza, Pop, and Parcheesi. We'll bring the pizza and pop. You bring your favorite board games. Invite your friends!
  • We've accomplished a lot, but we have much more to do. Parish growth is a long-term process.
  • Our average Sunday attendance actually shrunk last year--from 64 during 2017 to 56 in 2018. Don't be alarmed. Dips are normal during a transition period.
  • Growth occurs in many ways. Don't be discouraged because we don't have a lot of visitors or new members.
  • During 2019, the Grow Team especially wants to focus on the Invite part of our model.
    • The national Episcopal Church will soon be publishing a new curriculum called Evangelism 101.
    • The Grow Team hopes to share this curriculum later this year.
    • Evangelism is a scary word for Episcopalians. It conjures images of Latter-Day Saints and Jehovah's Witness going door to door. But Episcopal evangelism is different. It's about getting to know your neighbors, sharing your story, and inviting people to church.
  • I want to leave you with three action items:
    • Continue using social media to raise awareness of our parish. When you see something you like on our parish website, especially events, share them on your Facebook timeline or send them to a friend using Facebook Messenger.
    • Attend Sunday services as often as possible. Not only will you benefit spiritually, but you'll also help improve our average Sunday attendance--which is one of the vital statics of parish live.
    • Join us at our monthly meetings, which are held on the first Wednesday of every month at 6 pm in the memorial room. We need more help.
  • Would any of the other members of Grow Team like to add to what I said?
  • What questions or comments do you have?

Report on the Search for Our Next Rector

Here's the outline of an oral report I gave at St. Thomas' annual meeting today.

  • Brad announced his retirement in June of 2018.
  • The vestry met the next Sunday with Canon Johnnie Ross to go over the transition process.
  • As Canon Johnnie suggested, the vestry decided to serve as the search committee.
  • The vestry developed a position description and parish profile, which Canon Johnnie posted to the national church's job board.
  • The vestry also formed an Interview Committee composed of:
    • Barb Fowler
    • Cinda Wheat
    • Bob Scharf
    • Sam Arnts
    • Me
  • The Interview Committee developed an interview process.
  • Any priest who is interested in the possibility of being our rector must apply directly to Canon Johnnie. He and Bishop Singh must vet all the candidates.
  • We interviewed our first candidate in late October. She is currently the assistant rector of a large parish in Texas. I'm not going to tell you her name or any other details to protect her privacy. Most of the parishioners don't know she is seeking a new cure. We had an overall favorable impression of the candidate. Her references we glowing.
  • We reported back to the vestry. They felt we should interview as many candidates as possible before making a selection.
  • Canon Johnnie promises us another candidate in November, but that candidate accepted a call to another parish.
  • Carin Tobin, Kit Tobin, Mary Paddock, and I met with Canon and Johnnie earlier this month.
  • Canon and Johnnie told us that two people who recently graduated from seminary might be good candidates for our position.
  • He promised to share their names with us in the near future. Both of these candidates will be ordained transitional diaconate during the first quarter of this year. 
  • If we called one of these candidates to be our rector, they could begin serving immediately as the deacon in charge. A supply priest would need to be present on Sunday mornings to celebrate Holy Eucharist. This arrangement would continue for about six months until the person was ordained to the priesthood and officially installed as rector.
  • You may be concerned about the slow pace of choosing a new rector. It's normal for parishes to spend at least a year discerning whom to call.
  • I encourage you to remain patient. Offer any anxiety that you have to God, praying that the Holy Spirit will send the right person to us.
  • While you are praying, remember the vestry and the interview committee that God will grant us wisdom.
  • Would any other members of the vestry or interview committee like to add to what I said?
  • What questions do you have?

Annual Meeting Agenda & Ballot

I created this document for St. Thomas' annual meeting,

January 2019 Parish Newsletter

I edited and arranged this issue for St. Thomas'. I also wrote two of the articles.