Monday, October 16, 2017

Thinking on our feet

From Hymn 594:
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the living of these days… 

The Gospel reading about the Pharisees asking Jesus about the lawfulness of paying taxes to the emperor reveals a master of thinking on his feet.  How I admire people who can come up with a perfect retort, particularly when they’re responding to an outrageous statement or question. 

In our increasingly polarized society, sometimes we need to summon the integrity to respond, either quickly or after reflection, in a way our conscience can live with. 

May God grant us the wisdom and courage for the navigating of those times.

Brad Norris
Minister of Music

Friday, October 6, 2017

Updates from the Rector and Vestry

Dear Friends,

On October 1, as Lorna began her new ministry in our midst, you and I marked the start of our ninth month together as rector and parishioners.  I am grateful.  I am delighted to be welcoming Lorna as a colleague and companion, and I look forward to the ways her particular gifts will nurture and enhance St. Andrew’s ministry to children and youth. 

As we celebrate Lorna’s arrival, I want to pause for a moment and give you a quick glimpse of a few things that have been happening behind the scenes here at St. Andrew’s during the past eight months.  The wardens, vestry, and I have set up new infrastructure to help shape our work and ministry:  clarifying vestry organization and roles so that every aspect of parish life and ministry is covered; producing liaison reports to keep the parish informed about what various Teams are doing; aligning our parish health insurance policy to be in compliance with church canons. None of those tasks is exciting, but all have improved our ability to carry out our ministry together.

Meanwhile, we have worked long and hard in concert with the Head, Board, and Foundation of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School to address various challenges and plan a way forward.  As rector of St. Andrew’s, I serve on the school’s board, meet regularly with Head of School Janna Outlaw, lead school chapel services once a week, and participate regularly in special events and fundraisers. 

The wardens and I meet weekly to pray, talk, and discern together as we seek to be faithful leaders in this place.  I am deeply indebted to them for their generosity with their wisdom, time, and talent.  The staff and I meet weekly also, and I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with a number of parish leaders about their plans and vision for Outreach, Parish Life, Congregational Development, Communications, and Stewardship.

Of course, Pastoral Care is a cornerstone of our ministry. The Pastoral Care Team, other clergy, and I are working closely together to develop and follow a schedule of regular visits to our home-bound members as well as to ensure that parishioners who are in the hospital receive visits. In the past eight months I’ve made 35 hospital visits and 64 pastoral care visits to parishioner homes, and I’m already way behind on my visitation schedule! Lorna will be sharing clergy pastoral care responsibilities with Kathy and me, and that will enable the three of us to get around to more of our home-bound folks.

This is really only a snapshot, and it covers only some of what the vestry and I have been working on. We are grateful for and humbled by the opportunity to serve God and to serve you, and we ask you to hold us in your prayers.

Every blessing, 

From the Vestry: Some Clarifications about the Alcohol Policy Discussion

The vestry is grateful to everyone who provided us with feedback about developing an alcohol policy. Your comments will help to shape our discussion and decision. Thank you.

Why are we changing the existing alcohol policy?
There is no existing alcohol policy at St. Andrew’s. Neither the vestry nor the parish office currently has any written policy about alcohol use. We’re not changing the policy; we’re creating one.

Why are we doing this now?
Because we have been serving alcohol, we need to clarify what our policy is.  Also, in 2015, The Episcopal Church’s General Convention asked all dioceses and parishes to develop and follow alcohol policies. We have not been in compliance.

Has the vestry already decided what the alcohol policy will be?
No. That’s why the vestry sought input from the whole congregation.  After reading all congregational comments, the vestry will gather in November to decide on an alcohol policy.

Will we stop serving wine during Holy Communion?

Since Anne doesn’t drink, is she going to insist that we ban alcohol at all parish social functions?
The decision about whether or not to allow alcohol at social functions is a vestry decision, not Anne’s decision alone. Every parish Anne has served has allowed alcohol at social events. Each parish has also had a clear policy.

Report from the Head of School

First, let me say thank you to all those who attended our Episcopal Schools Sunday celebration on October 1. If you were not in attendance we missed you, and hope that you will be able to attend other programs our students present throughout the year. Third and fifth grade students thoroughly enjoyed taking part in last Sunday’s service. They always look forward to this time of year.  Although I know the students were the highlight of the day, there was much excitement about the future and vision of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. 

Last May, all St. Andrew’s constituents were informed about the challenges the School is facing with declined enrollment.  Research trends show that most independent schools are facing the same obstacles. However, the Board and Vestry have diligently worked together to reorganize our mission.  We jointly agree that especially in today’s society there is still value in a Christian based education where students are challenged by rigorous academics. Nevertheless, an outreach ministry of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, our place in the community has changed. It is time to broaden our focus to meet a greater need as a whole.

Over the summer an ad hoc committee consisting of both Board and Vestry members worked to pinpoint what would be most beneficial to our current families, prospective families, and the community as a whole. We decided on three initiatives, STEM/Innovation, Orton-Gillingham and Tuition Indexing. 

Most elementary schools are implementing innovation on a small scale. We asked ourselves why wouldn’t we offer project-based learning on a larger scale in elementary school?  A STEM/Innovation Lab would provide a central maker-space for all students to develop and grow their natural curiosity through hands-on projects focusing on STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math.

Our second initiative, Orton Gillingham, is an instructional approach intended primarily for use with individuals who have difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing of the sort associated with dyslexia.  Our vision is to offer the Orton-Gillingham approach to students with dyslexia with one-on-one pull out instruction, and small group instruction for those who need remediation in language arts. 

Tuition Indexing is our third initiative that will make attending St. Andrew’s more affordable. Increasing our financial aid pool of money would allow us to better meet the financial needs of families in the community. 

We could not be more excited about our vision for the future, and meeting a greater need in the community. Our future is bright and promising; we are looking forward to all it has to offer. Thank you for your continued prayers and support!

Janna Outlaw
Head of School
St. Andrew's Episcopal School

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017

Episcopal Schools Sunday is Oct. 1

Sunday, October 1, 2017, begins a week of celebration for Episcopal Schools.  This celebration includes the ministry of nearly 1,200 Episcopal Schools and early childhood education programs throughout the Episcopal Church.  The National Association of Episcopal Schools’ Episcopal Schools Celebration theme for 2017-2018 is “Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Minds."

This is a time to give thanks for Episcopal early childhood programs, elementary, middle, and secondary schools.  Through daily chapel, St. Andrew’s Church and school staff work in partnership to encourage and nurture our students to be “doers of the Word.”  We are all different and possess many talents and gifts.  Daily chapel allows us to explore the gifts and talents of people written about in the Bible.  That exploration gives us the opportunity to reflect on our own gifts and talents, and the good we each have to offer the world.  This reflection gives us a call to action by way of service, encouragement, sympathy, teaching, kindness, and love. 

Please join us on Sunday, October 1 to celebrate not only St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, but also Episcopal Schools everywhere, all of which are vital to God’s mission.  Our school chorus will sing at the 10:30 a.m. service and 5th graders will be greeters and lectors.  I look forward to seeing you then! 

Janna M. Outlaw 
Head of School

 Prayer for St. Andrew's Episcopal School
Loving God, thank you for St. Andrew's Episcopal School and for all whose lives it touches. In this challenging time, we humbly ask for your guidance. Please help us, as school and church, to be good partners to each other in the task of discerning your will. We are grateful for all that has been, we look forward to all that is to come, and we thank you, gracious God, for your presence with us in all times. We pray in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, who was himself a teacher. Amen.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Congregational Development Team report

The objective for the Congregational Development Team is to effectively extend to others the opportunity to experience the joy and blessing of having St. Andrew’s as their place of worship, outreach, and Christian fellowship.  Our mission can be summarized as the planning and implementation of three facets of congregational development: Invite, Welcome, and Connect. 

First, we look for and identify proven and innovative ways to effectively extend the invitation to friends, neighbors, and even strangers to join us in worship.  Second, we look for ways to recognize and welcome those newcomers to our church, both to ensure that we are aware of their presence and to make certain that they feel welcome while here.  Our goal is for them to want to return.  Our cadre of greeters are the first part of the Welcome, and there are many other things that can be done as well.  Finally, for those who do choose to become a regular part of our parish, we want to make their early time more comfortable and fulfilling by connecting them to the church community through contact, education, and opportunity.

 I know that anyone who chooses to join our parish will greatly benefit from the opportunity for spiritual growth and from the overall church community experience.  Likewise, we at St. Andrew’s benefit in so many ways by the addition of newcomers and what they can bring to us.  In fact, the growth of the church community is vital for its health and longevity.  Parts of this ministry have been present at St. Andrew’s for some time, but it is really now just beginning to be organized as a team effort.  We strongly encourage anyone who wishes to be a part of this important ministry to join us.  Call the church office for more info - 757-595-0371.

Jay Lambiotte
Vestry Liaison to the Congregational Development Team

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thank you, Henry!

We are very grateful to Henry Waddill - for his Eagle Scout project, he built a shed in which we can store our lawn equipment and supervised a group of Boy Scouts in cleaning the school's playground equipment. Thank you, Henry!