St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church
Intentional Interim or Priest-in-Charge
|Date Posted||March 15, 2019|
Michigan (Jim Gettel)
|Health Benefits||Full Family|
|Communicants in Good Standing||200|
|Average Sunday Attendance||100|
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church (www.ststephenstroy.org) has truly been blessed by God with people, resources and opportunities.
We have a well-educated congregation with many diverse and interesting life experiences. We span the spectrum from liberal to conservative and coexist by focusing on our many commonalities rather than our differences. We experience a loving, caring, welcoming and generous family.
Our relatively new and well-maintained building and gardens are located on several wooded acres in suburban Troy, Michigan. Our woods are home to a plethora of wildlife, including deer and wild turkeys. St. Stephen’s has a large fellowship hall, which is a wonderful venue for our activities and for use by others.
We are in close proximity to Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham and Rochester Hills, which like Troy are relatively affluent with well-educated populations and strong families. Troy and its neighboring cities are great places to live and raise a family. This area has some of the best schools in Michigan. There is more about Troy at: https://troymi.gov/community/index.php:
Troy is a place where families and businesses thrive. A community recognized for its excellent quality of life – 24/7 Wall Street named Troy as the 7th best city to live in the U.S and best place to live in Michigan. The Troy School District is A+ rated and recognized nationally for excellence in Academics and Fine Arts education. Troy has unsurpassed city services, a #1 safest city in Michigan ranking, and one of the lowest tax rates in Oakland County. The city also boasts 1,000 acres of parkland, two golf courses, nature center, historic village, and a variety of lakes and streams.
Additional demographics of the radius around the church can be found at: https://pr.dfms.org/study/StaticPDFs/2/2993-0591.pdf, including information about religious program and ministry preferences.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that there are not people in need in this area. We routinely help the needy in nearby Pontiac, and many people in relatively affluent areas still need help, such as kids in foster care. We still do many great things such as housing about 35 homeless souls for a week each year, helping them meet their daily needs for love, shelter, relaxation, food and transportation.
Troy is also the second most diverse city in Michigan, and it has almost 70 houses of worship. The Troy Area Interfaith Group, in which we participate, includes most Christian denominations as well as Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist and other faith traditions. The group meets regularly to learn about and build on our many areas of common beliefs and interests.
St. Stephen’s has the capacity and desire to do more to build our faith and better serve God and God’s people. St. Stephen’s has a history and tradition of vibrant programs and a caring and welcoming congregation. In recent years our vitality and enthusiasm have taken a hit. We still like to think of ourselves as being vital and active; but we are aging and our membership and revenues have been declining. Programs are getting smaller and fewer people are carrying bigger loads and some things are gradually getting scaled back. As is common, attracting new members, particularly young ones, has not come as easily as it once did. We still have active programs for kids, but our population of school aged kids is shrinking. Our worship attendance is about half of what it was ten years ago and we have shrunk from a program-sized to a pastoral-sized parish.
During the last couple of years, we began to consider ways to reach out more to our surrounding community. At the same time, we were experiencing conflict between some leaders and members and our Rector (who had been called in September 2012) around concerns about personal style and sermons some felt were overly political. We asked a diocesan consultant to help us with reconciliation and healing of conflicts, and she facilitated three training and reconciliation sessions. Instead of continuing the reconciliation process, the Vestry voted in March to ask the bishop to dissolve the pastoral relationship, and in June the Rector instead resigned with a severance letter.
Recently in well-attended informal sharing by small groups of parishioners in a series of “Holy Conversations,” we recognized that we collectively still have a strong desire to reverse the downward trends. Hearing that others are willing to work together to turn the trends upward is energizing. We want to work our way back toward the vibrancy we once had so we can continue to find joy in our faith, our church and in our service to God and each other. We love St. Stephen’s and each other, and relish the prospect of doing more than wishing and hoping for the “good old days.”
Although our revenues have been declining, we have been able to manage our expenses so as to cover them, and we have some restricted reserve funds for areas such as youth programs and capital building and grounds needs. We also have an endowment fund from which grants can be made for special opportunities or needs. So we continue to have resources to grow.
We are ready to regroup and recommit, and need a partner to help us find our way. We know the path ahead will be challenging, and that we will need to grow our faith in God and each other to succeed. We especially will need help keeping grounded in and true to God’s Word.
We are seeking a priest who is warm, loving, open and visionary who hears the call from God to passionately partner with us to help rekindle the flames that have kept us moving forward and someone who easily connects with and inspires people, especially young adults and kids.
If our desires to grow together and better serve God and God’s people excite you as they do us, we invite you to explore our website 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