From Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow and Canon Lexa Shallcross
[From the December 2009 newsletter of St. Margaret's]
Dear Friends in Christ,
One year ago, the existing Vestry and Canon Shallcross wrote to Bishop Paul and the Standing Committee requesting the diocesan help and oversight available to a "Parish under Review" according to Canon XXVIII. A that time, the identified concern was financial hardship.
In August, Bishop Paul and the Standing Committee moved St. Margaret's to a "Parish at Risk" under Canon XXIX based on the recommendation of their review team. That team includes Elizabeth House, Connie Archer, Canon Anne Kitch and Charlie Barebo. Members of the Standing Committee and the diocesan staff have been present at Vestry meetings since August. Bishop Paul used this time to determine what were the appropriate measures to take under Canon XXIX which would restore health to St. Margaret's Church. He has been at the last two Vestry meetings and has deep concerns that have led him to take the following actions which are designed to put the parish in a place where it can reform itself.
At the regularly scheduled Vestry meeting on November 18, Bishop Paul detailed his provisions for a path to growth.
Bishop Paul has asked Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow to assemble and chair a committee that will assume the powers and functions of the vestry no later than December 1. That committee will include two members of the present vestry, two other members of the congregation, the Review Team and another priest from a neighboring parish.
In addition to overseeing the operations of St. Margaret's Church, this committee has been charged with the following:
1. to look into the operations of St Margaret's Nursery School
2. to set a worship schedule that supports the parish mission and ministry and to then determine if space can be shared on Sundays with the West Valley Presbyterian Church.
3. to develop and present a parish history from a systems perspective, so that as many people as possible can understand that St. Margaret's, like any "family," has automatic patterns of functioning and that these can be changed.
Bishop Paul has chosen to designate Canon Shallcross as vicar. This means that she will report to and be supervised by the Archdeacon and himself. She serves at the pleasure of the Bishop.
In the immediate future, it will be necessary to reduce her hours to half time as currently St. Margaret's Church cannot afford a full time clergy position.
We believe that these steps offer hope for the future of St. Margaret's and show the Bishop's commitment that there continue to be a parish in Emmaus.
Bishop Paul has asked the Diocesan Council to consider the deferment of the assessment that is in arrears. The assessment is the contribution all parishes make as members in good standing who support the work of the entire Diocese.
Carrying the good news that our grant request to New Hope for assistance to start "Family School" in January has been approved to cover the cost of curriculum, Bishop Paul again expressed his deep concern for the future of St. Margaret's Church and his hope that there is now effective leadership in place to help the community of St. Margaret's reach a place where it can choose new and productive paths.Faithfully,
The Ven Howard Stringfellow, Archdeacon
The Rev. Canon Lexa H. Shallcross