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Note from the Senior Warden on Our Rector’s Transition

March 13, 2018
This last Tuesday, pitchers and catchers reported to spring training! Throughout Arizona and Florida, every major league baseball team began working full time on a process that will end months from now with a new world champion. For now, a quiet process has begun as each team works on fundamentals: developing player skills, character, and making tough roster decisions before the season begins. I imagine, inside the teams, the work is hard and players’ lives are far from idyllic, as cuts and trades come day after day. For fans though, blessed to watch a little removed, it is just a glorious spring, full of fresh expectations, green grass, sunshine, and limitless opportunities.

We are entering a quiet period in our rector transition process. Shortly after Fr. George announced his plans to leave St. Edmund’s after 23 successful years, we had a warm meeting with Bishop Taylor and were assured of his complete support for our parish throughout the transition. The Vestry then met with the Rev. Canon Joanna Satorius from the Diocese Office for Clergy Formation and Transitional Ministries. Canon Satorius will be assisting us in the rector search process, and she spent a full day describing the transition process recommended by the Diocese.

We are beginning this process immediately. Gail Rolfe has agreed to lead a newly formed Transition Committee as its Chair; Mike Harrigian, serving as a liaison to the Vestry; Amy Hulick, Debra Spaulding and Alan Steinbrecher also as members.

This committee is intended to provide continuity and guidance throughout the rector transition process. The calling of a new rector is going to take an extended period of time, and the Vestry has not put a timetable or expected end date on the process. Canon Satorius advised us that the most thoughtful, wise approaches to the rector calling require much information gathering, team building, and reflection on the character of our parish.

We expect to begin arranging small group discussions to address this step soon. Additional parishioners with time and interest will need to be involved throughout, too. So, if you can volunteer time, your help will be welcomed. If you can only cheer or boo, we will welcome that too! Your feedback as to what we are doing well, what we need to do differently, ministries that are currently important to you, and what is not now adequately provided will need to serve as the basis for a coming St. Edmund’s profile that will serve as a foundation for our search.

We do need to ask for your immediate help. Continue to support St. Edmund’s, mostly with your attendance at services, but as you can, in the small groups offered through Lent. This will be a time to especially appreciate the remaining sermons and homilies from Fr. George! Please stay current on your pledges, and if possible, prepay before summer.

But most importantly, remember us in your prayers:
For Fr. George, our friend and Rector for 23 years, as he goes through transition too, deserving of our full and complete support, and with thanks for his service;

For St. Edmund’s, as we work through the process of our new rector calling; and,

For our Vestry and others leading this process, they will need wisdom, grace and all the support you can give.

We are just beginning, and to be sure, there are challenges ahead. But for now, let’s enjoy a glorious spring.

Phases of Transition

April 12, 2018
It is meant to depict three phases in the transition to a new rector. The first is the time during which we bid Father George our fond farewell and celebrate his tenure with us. That is the period we are in now, and it ends with the last service he officiates at St. Edmund’s and the farewell luncheon immediately following it on April 29th.

The second phase is a time of reflection and introspection, designed to include the entire parish community in defining how we see our parish past, present and future. This phase is critical for determining the qualities we most want in our next rector, and what we tell that candidate about us. There are three major parts of this process – a “History Day” to which the entire parish is invited on June 16th (a Saturday) to reflect on the history of St. Edmund’s and share our thoughts on what it means to us and what we want it to be in the future; a series of small group discussions designed to continue the further defining of who we are and where we are going and a written parish survey that will be sent to all parishioners. There is no fixed date for the end of this second phase, but the target is Fourth Quarter of 2018.

The third phase is the search phase, during which the Search Committee is formed and conducts its work, as identified in the visual. The third phase has no timeline, and could last an additional six to eighteen months.

Farewell Ceremony

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The parish bade a fond farewell to its beloved rector, the Reverend Canon George F. Woodward III, during and after the 10:00 a.m. service on Sunday, April 29th. During the service the Reverend Canon Colville Smythe, the former assisting rector, gave a warm and lighthearted sermon, followed by the formal leave-taking ceremony. Gifts from various parish ministries such as the Nursery School, Sunday School and Youth Program and Acolytes were then presented to Father George. Lunch on the Close followed the service, during which 235 people enjoyed the beautiful weather and being able to share time with Father George. After lunch everyone returned to the church, where tributes and additional gifts, including a two-volume scrapbook of his time at St. Edmund’s, with pages submitted by many of the parish families, and a beautiful photo album, were given to him. Father George was then “roasted” and serenaded with a song of love to him and St. Edmund’s to the tune of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.” The ceremony ended with his final reflections on his time here and his benediction. After twenty-three years of devotion to and love for St. Edmund’s, Father George has now formally taken his leave from the parish, which wishes him all the best in the years ahead.

The Second Phase Of The Transition

We have now entered the second of the three phases of the transition to a new rector. During the first phase we expressed our gratitude to Father George for his faithful service to our parish and bade him a loving farewell, culminating in the service, lunch and ceremony on April 29th. The second phase will give us the time for personal and communal introspection about what we consider to be the most important elements of St. Edmund’s now and those ways in which we hope to strengthen it in the future so that it cannot only continue, but increase, its importance to us individually, as a congregation and in the community.

The second phase is extremely important because the decisions we reach together about the challenges we face and the aspirations we have for our parish will significantly define the profile of the rector the Search Committee will seek. The entire parish will gather to share our thoughts about our past and future at the History Day on June 16th, a facilitated event which will help recall our parish experience in order to identify those ministries we want to emphasize with our new rector. We will continue the process of further defining our aspirations, and therefore the characteristics of that person, through small group meetings during the summer and the parish survey which will be distributed later in the summer.

Conversations with potential interim candidates and a Vestry decision about an interim candidate are expected to be finalized during this phase.