Dear fellow parishioners:
I would like to talk to you about the future.
In the months leading up to the moment that we called Father Nick to serve as our priest, we had many frank and thoughtful conversations about the nature of our church. In the Search Committee’s meetings, in formal gatherings, and in a hundred phone calls and curbside talks, we hammered out what kind of church we wanted to be. Sometimes, priests complain about parishioners who never utter a word, but then step into the parking lot to vent their true feelings. We succeeded in bringing those parking lot conversations into the church.
The result of all that thought and effort galvanized our congregation. For four years, we have delighted in Nick and his family: in his joy, his spontaneity, and his willingness to support and encourage us. We have renovated much of our shared space: the rectory, the parish house, the undercroft, the nursery and the sanctuary are now marked by the hard work of Carol Deaton, Dan Cahill, and many others. We have weathered sorrow and fear under Nick’s guidance; we have lost people we love, and we have endured a historic pandemic. Throughout, he has been a shepherd to us, a leader of our flock.
As I am sure he would want me to say, much of what has happened in these four years has been the work of our congregation. But it would be a distortion to ignore the infusion of excitement and charisma that Nick has brought. He has helped us to refresh the dynamic, daring, and loving spirit of our church.
Throughout this letter, I have been looking for other ways to say “joy,” because ultimately, I think that is the legacy of Nick’s time here. For our purposes, there’s an even better word: “enthusiasm.” It has come to be a small word, one that we use for staff meetings and forced fun. But originally, it meant something entirely different. “Enthusiasm” meant becoming so filled with the Spirit of God that it changed you into an entirely new being -- precisely the sort of change that Jesus spoke of in the Gospel of John, when He says that His followers “must be born again.”
As all of us consider our donations and pledges here at the end of the year, I want to think about where we will be a year from now. A year older, hopefully wiser, richer in some ways, poorer in others. We will meditate on the absence of our priest, and search among hopeful and qualified candidates for a new shepherd. This time will ask much of us, in a moment when services are still mostly distanced, and we cannot gather.
Whether we have called a priest or not, whether we have returned to the normal routine of services, I hope that we will have carried forward the best parts of Nick’s tenure here. I hope that we will still be enthusiastic: filled with the Spirit of God, and braver than before.
Yours in Christ,
Dear Fellow Parishioners,
I write to you in a season unlike any other in our church’s history. Just a year ago,we knelt in the pews to speak the words of our Book of Common Prayer, lifting prayers for the aged and infirm, for the sick and the suffering, for our own needs, and those of others.
Today, we have added new prayers. We pray for the chance to embrace during the Peace, to join our voices with the choir, to taste the bread and wine passed from the hands of our eucharistic ministers. We pray to be reunited with our Church.
Despite being hollowed out, our Church has endured. This has been no easy task. Along with Lynn, Raul, Deborah, and our volunteer lay ministers, Father Nick has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic. We have been blessed with an uninterrupted schedule of online services, and with a routine broadcast of prayers and reflections. The scale of effort and coordination involved is tremendous, and reminds us all that, even if we can’t enter the building, the work of Christ’s mission forges ahead.
At night, I have taken to saying the Lord’s Prayer with our daughter Emma Jane. It is always the last thing before bedtime, after we’ve read books and sung songsand made sure the baby dolls are cozy in their blankets. She doesn’t understandevery word, of course; but she knows that we need to thank God, that we can ask for His help, and that He wants us to think about how we act in the world. Most of all, though, she knows that we can speak to God.
In the past six months, we have all seen so many plans, hopes, and expectations cancelled. We have all looked forward, and found ourselves disappointed. It has been hard to know what to say, or what to think. In times like this, when we wish to reach out to God, we do not always know how to approach Him, or what it means to speak to Him. But our Church has taught us words to say.
When I last wrote to you, I encouraged everyone to consider the blessings that we receive from our Church. That request has never been more urgent than now. Without the steady flow of anticipated pledges, and the spontaneous gifts that more naturally flow when we are in close contact, the Church suffers. On behalf of the Vestry, for the sake of our dedicated staff, their efforts, and those lovely buildings we hope to see again soon — please consider how you might give to our Church in this pledge season.
Yours in Christ,
Senior Warden Message
The vestry met by Zoom on January 20th. We started our meeting with The Rev. Canon Jonathan Harris, who leads transition and pastoral development, and will be our Diocesan Transition Minister.
Jonathan outlined a process and timetable that we agreed on.
Congregational Self Study
Vestry to discern and appoint a Search Committee.
Vestry to develop a search budget and new rector compensation elements.
Search Committee listens to the Parish through a survey and group meetings (probably by Zoom) to develop a Parish Profile.
We think this could be completed by early April and start receiving names shortly after Easter.
This is done through the Diocese, with updated social media platforms being important components.
Search Committee interviews candidates who fit our profile and selects one or more to visit.
Candidates interview with Bishop Mark and undergo a background check.
Search Committee enters final discernment to determine a finalist.
This could be accomplished by mid to late summer.
Call to New Ministry
Search committee recommends one finalist to the vestry for confirmation.
Finalist invited back to the parish, if needed.
Request to Bishop Mark for permission to extend call.
Letter of Agreement negotiated on salary, benefits and a date to begin.
Our target date for this is October 1st.
In our business session, the vestry elected Dan Cahill to lead the search committee. We are confident Dan will do a great job forming a committee in conjunction with the vestry, and keeping us on task to select the right person.
One of the things a new rector will be looking for is a church with a strong stewardship record. For 2021, we had 11 members decrease their pledges and 13 members increase their pledges. We still have not heard from 12 members who pledged to the church in 2020. If those pledges are received, our budget will still be down approximately 5.5% overall. We do recognize that we have some members who do not pledge but give significantly to specific needs and projects, and we appreciate that support. We also recognize that, while monetary gifts are necessary to keep the church functioning, gifts of time and talent are of equal importance.
Our January services have been recorded and available on YouTube. Lynn, Raul and Rebecca provide the music and we have a group of Lectors and Officiants to conduct the spoken part of the service. Andy Williams edits the recordings posts them to YouTube. We have added a microphone that has improved the sound. We see this as being the norm for the foreseeable future.
The Daily Office continues online three times daily under the direction of Ed and Heather Gallop. If anyone is interested in assisting with this important ministry, please contact the Gallops or the church office.
The Gallops will be doing Ash Wednesday services on February 17. And the Alter Guild is working on a way to distribute Ashes. More details later.
We are planning for a day when we can have many of you back in church as vaccinations roll out. But we understand that some will not feel comfortable. We are in the process of getting Internet in the Church so the services can be live streamed when we have permission from the Governor and the Diocese to have in-person services again. We will keep you informed as this develops.
Loaves and Fishes continues the first and third Wednesdays of the month by drive through pick up. David Cole has a small, dedicated group who provide this much needed service to the community. Many of you have given to support this cause.
Finally, I ask you to keep in touch with your fellow members, particularly those who cannot get out and do not have family in the area. Sometimes, just a simple, short phone call can make someone’s day.
You can mail a check to the Church office at:
Christ Episcopal Church
311 East Church Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24112
You may give online, safely and securely, through your PayPal account or with any major credit card.
Annual earnings from participation in rewards programs continue to grow. The next time you shop at Amazon, Food Lion, or Kroger, support Christ Episcopal Church with your purchase. For every dollar spent at one of these businesses a percentage is donated to the church. Giving is easy!
Amazon Smile: You Shop, Amazon Gives. Christ Episcopal will receive a donation equivalent to .5% of the price for eligible purchases. Click here when you make purchases from Amazon and a portion is returned to the church!
Food Lion: Purchase a grocery card at church on Sunday or in the office during the week and use it to pay for your purchases. They are available in denominations of $25, $50, and $100, $200 and $300.
Kroger: Link your Kroger Plus card to the church. Go to the Kroger website, register your card by account number, enter Christ Church’s NPO number 82143 in the search field, click search, select the church and then click on enroll. Then all you have to do is shop. The rest is automatic.
For ease in making a gift of stock to Christ Episcopal Church please complete the following form and give it to your stockbroker. Please notify the church of your gift by phone, 276-632-2896, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A convenient way to support the ministry of Christ Church is to schedule your monthly pledge via the online bill pay services of your local bank. This is the electronic equivalent of writing a check. It’s fast, direct, and saves trees. The contact details you need for setting up the church as a bill pay account are:
Christ Episcopal Church
311 East Church Street
Martinsville VA 24112
We welcome your remembrances, gifts, and honorariums and will follow your instructions for such including specific tangible gifts, monetary gifts, flowers or other items for special occasions or holy days. More substantial contributions should be coordinated with the senior warden who will work with you to honor and remember your family and loved ones.
Please remember Christ Episcopal Church in your will. The church welcomes bequests and charitable giving through wills and trusts. Gifts may be mailed to: Christ Episcopal Church, 311 East Church Street, Martinsville, VA 24112.
By far the best way to support the ministry of Christ Church is to pledge your yearly giving in advance. This allows us to plan our annual budget and programs more effectively and responsibly. Pledge cards are available in the church office and pews, and are distributed every Fall during our pledge campaign. Once you’ve filled it out, simply mail it to the church office at the address above or drop it in the collection plate.
The stewardship letter, from Chairman Tommy Hudgins, for 2017 embodies the spirit of the church and giving.
October 6, 2016
Dear Fellow Parishioner:
It’s October, and in Episcopal churches all over the country, parishioners are hearing the annual call for pledges. In that respect, we at Christ Episcopal Church are no different.
In other respects, we are very different indeed. During the past fifteen months of supply ministry and programs directed almost fully by volunteers, we have shown that we are an active, caring community eager to participate in many opportunities to worship and serve. We have resurrected the rectory through gifts of time, talent and treasure. And, thanks to the hard work of our search committee, we now welcome a dynamic new rector and his wife to occupy it and lead us into new ministry.
We need to make sure Father Nick will have sufficient resources to maintain our program and to lead us into any new and exciting areas to which the Holy Spirit might lead us. To accomplish that, we are hoping to increase pledged income by at least 15% in 2017.
How does our church serve you? Surely, it is the center of your worship and spiritual development. It provides opportunities for you to help others. CEC gives many of us the chance to experience valued fellowship. We may take advantage of these in varying degrees, but our parish offers us all the chance to become better people.
What do I think I can afford to pledge for 2017? That’s the wrong question. The question we all should be asking ourselves is “What do I want to give in 2017?” Just this once, cast aside your “inner accountant” and let your heart make the call. Give the church what you want, and the rest takes care of itself. Please join me in increasing my pledge for 2017.
In a few weeks, I will send an update with some hard numbers. In the meantime, please return to the church the accompanying pledge card. Feel free to mail it to the office or drop it in the collection plate on Sunday. In order to set a reasonably accurate budget for next year, the Vestry needs to hear from everyone by the annual meeting in mid-November.
2017 Stewardship Chair
10:30 AM: Holy Eucharist, Rite II
Streamed on Facebook Live