St. Thomas Episcopal Church
|Date Posted||May 28, 2019|
Rhode Island (Linda Grenz)
|Health Benefits||Full Family|
|Communicants in Good Standing||388|
|Average Sunday Attendance||141|
|Child Population in Church School||25|
|Adult Population in Church School||85|
|Teacher Population in Church School||8|
St. Thomas is a very active congregation, engaged in education, spirituality, outreach and fundraising. The previous rector was highly energetic and engaged and the congregation followed her lead, so many activities continue in the transition, all led by the laity. This is the result of a successful merger of two congregations (about a decade ago) with mostly middle income, working class members. They did the "read the entire Bible" challenge with the majority of their members participating. They have a discipleship group that is ongoing and a women's spirituality group.
They do a significant number of fundraisers -- mostly around food -- which led to a total renovation of their kitchen which is also used to provide meals to our summer urban program for children from low income families. If you like pies, pastries, great meals, etc. you're in luck! They do a Christmas bazaar which has a group that meets throughout the year to make things to sell.
Greenville is a village in the town of Smithfield about 10 miles from Providence (RI is small and you can get anywhere in an hour). So you have a village setting where it is easy to get to know and connect with people and you have an urban area with colleges (e.g., Brown University and RI School of Design), good art, theatre and music (e.g., a really great Philharmonic Symphony) and lots of good restaurants, partly due to Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute.
The previous rector was a tireless worker, enthusiastic energizer, faithful pastor and as a former business woman, she was smart about how she helped the congregation almost double their attendance and income over a decade while deepening their spiritual lives. She leaves a big power vacuum and they are struggling with how to manage that. The simultaneous departure of a very strong, controlling fundraising chairwoman, has contributed to the fact that they now have a larger than usual power vacuum and don't know how to fill it! They need a strong leader who will help them stabilize their gains and work collaboratively towards common goals. As part of a former mill town, many residents are used to following a leader and value someone who is authentic, direct and caring.
This is a solid parish with good people with a decent building with a new kitchen. They share the parking lot with the funeral home next door -- and the funeral home does the snow removal and landscaping as "payment." The transition from the church to the parish hall is not handicapped accessible (and there is no good way to fix that). They have a parish administrator and a top notch, professional musician who has been known to very subtly weave a show tune that fits the sermon into the recessional! The former rector is retired and works half-time on the bishop's staff as a consultant in congregational development -- and is very good about boundaries. So will be helpful to the new rector vs. a problem.
We are looking to fill this fairly quickly -- ideally by the fall. We have a good interim priest going in to work with them over the summer. This will be a priest-in-charge position with right of conversion to rector within a year or two.
The Rev. Canon Linda L. Grenz, Canon to the Ordinary
Diocese of Rhode Island