St. Mary's-in-the-Hills Episcopal Church
Intentional Interim or Priest-in-Charge
|Date Posted||September 21, 2018|
Michigan (Jim Gettel)
|Health Benefits||Full Family|
|Communicants in Good Standing||120|
|Average Sunday Attendance||70|
The Mission of St. Mary’s in-the-Hills Episcopal Church is to be inspired by the Word and nurtured by the sacraments, to promote an active and community-conscious congregation supporting the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ. St. Mary’s is a community that values:
Worship: We enjoy traditional, liturgically based worship services that closely follow the Book of Common Prayer. Both services use Rite II. The service at 8:30 a.m. is a quiet and contemplative service without music. The 10:00 a.m. service enjoys the choir and sings from the Hymnal. Lay people play a key role in both services. Our children are always involved in some way at the 10:00 service. Our Christmas and Easter services often include additional music either through our bell choir or local musicians in addition to the regular contributions of the choir. During Lent we have weekly midday services and use Rite I for our Sunday services. While we appreciate the predictability of tradition, we welcome the spontaneity and occasional chaos that can come with having children and lay leaders participating in a comfortable, familial atmosphere.
Outreach: Our outreach to our local community and beyond seeks to spread the Word to the unchurched and help those in need. We are particularly committed to supporting food ministries, including the Crossroads Soup Kitchen in Detroit, a bread distribution ministry in Pontiac, a free meal program in Lake Orion, the Love Inc. food pantry, and the CROP Hunger Walk.
Spiritual Growth: We value our individual relationships with Christ and helping to nurture members and friends on their faith journeys. We have a non-literal approach to understanding the Bible coupled with serious study to understand and seek the truth. Adult Christian formation opportunities led by parishioners include our Tuesday Morning Bible Study, Tuesday Evening Pub Theology, and Book groups. Our commitment to our young families remains strong and we ran a successful vacation bible school this summer and our Sunday school program is continuing.
Our average Sunday attendance has decreased during the last five years. Of course, some of this is the societal decline in church attendance and participation. However, some of our decline is attributable to conflict. As a partnered lesbian, our last rector was subject to personal attack when a small minority of parishioners spoke out against the Church’s policy on ordaining gay and lesbian individuals, and others criticized her sermons as inappropriately political. We experienced some of the increasing incivility from the secular world flowing into our church community.
By the summer of 2017, we were aware that we are not where we want to be in treating one another well and strengthening our identity as a loving family. Initially, we held a series of informal brainstorming sessions to ask where our focus as a church community should be going forward and identified the values we are sharing in this profile. At the same time, we received feedback that while our closely-knit community is comfortable, welcoming and affirming to some, we may not easily integrate new members. Whether we’re adept or need to improve, welcoming new members is key for any church and deserves focus. We also particularly need to work on living with each other lovingly in a community of faith where individual ideas and freedom of expression and belief are valued, and there are differences of opinion. We asked a diocesan consultant to help us with reconciliation and healing of conflicts, and she facilitated a series of parish-wide truth and reconciliation meetings. There is still some work to do in terms of healing our community. We still need to work on strengthening loving behaviors and to create and implement new norms of honest and affirming behavior. We would like a priest who can help guide and inspire us as we build a place where both newcomers and existing members want to be, and feel welcomed to join us.
Along with average Sunday attendance, our pledges and income decreased. Faced with a budget deficit, the vestry organized a mid-year stewardship campaign. This successful effort netted an additional $13,000 pledged income for 2018. We have paid off the mortgage on the fellowship hall and were able to celebrate together as a community. We have been working to continue our careful stewardship of the resources we have. Our continuing financial support of external ministries while having tightened finances is a point of pride. This summer we also applied for and won a $10,000 advertising grant from Google to support our church’s web presence. We are using this opportunity to advertise on the Google platform and drive internet users to our website.
There is broad recognition among the Vestry that as a congregation we handed the proverbial torch to our previous rector and did not remain sufficiently invested and engaged in creating the type of church that we seek. We understand that to benefit from a collaborative, empowering rector that we must be partners in the creation of that environment, rather than recipients of the rector’s efforts.
*This position could be 3/4 Time to Full Time depending on the priest’s needs and working within the congregation’s budget. We will consider calling either an Intentional Interim or a Priest-in-Charge to help us with strengthening our community in this next stage of our journey together.
If our celebration of Christ through worship and outreach and our challenge to become a more loving community and grow together excite you as they do us, we invite you to explore our website (https://www.stmarysinthehills.org/) and to submit an application if you feel called to do so.
To apply for this position, please send a resume, cover letter, OTM Portfolio, and two sample sermons (in any format) to:
Canon for Congregational Life
Episcopal Diocese of Michigan