St. Francis’ Church

at Priest-in-Charge (to Rector)
Location Great Falls
Date Posted April 30, 2024
Category Virginia (Shirley Smith-Graham)
Job Type Full Time
Setting Suburban
Compensation $108,000-120,000, depending on experience
Diocesan Compensation Info https://episcopalvirginia.org/resources/administration/finance/compensation-guidelines/
Health Benefits Clergy + 1
Housing None
Is there a rectory? No
Equity Allowance No
Communicants in Good Standing 252
Average Sunday Attendance 100
Budget $667,180

Description

Additional comments re: compensation, benefits and housing.

St. Francis's base health insurance plan is Anthem BCBS PPO80. The church covers 100% of premium for single coverage for employees, 65% for spouse and child(ren) premiums, and 65% for family.

Liturgical style and practice

In the early 1960s, clergy and parishioners of St. John’s Episcopal Church, McLean, VA elected to plant a mission church in the Great Falls area, a quiet, rural community at that time. It began as St. Francis-in-the-Fields, meeting in an old dog kennel. The growth of the Great Falls area into an active, busy suburb of Washington DC, and of numerous neighboring communities in Northern Virginia led to St. Francis to becoming the church it is today, situated amid burgeoning, shifting and vibrant suburban communities.

The mission of St. Francis is to follow Jesus Christ, to provide a spiritual home for worship and Christian growth, to encourage love and fellowship within the parish family, to promote harmony with God's creation in the spirit of St. Francis, and to serve the needs of the greater community. The most enduring feature of St. Francis yesterday and today is the warmth and friendliness of its people, who worship together, pray together, sing together, laugh together and care for each other.

Our beautiful, inviting sanctuary features a large window with faintly tinted glass to reflect the shadow of the cross. The window looks out on the “green room,” an expansive view of our grounds where parishioners can often see deer grazing during services, reflecting the influence of St Francis on our worship and our lives. The green room also includes a memorial garden where parishioners’ ashes are laid to rest so friends and family can visit and remember. It is the site of a labyrinth for quiet meditation while also featuring a play area and nature refuge for the young children of our pre-school.

As part of our Outreach to the local community, we open our spaces to many groups including the current activities of AA meetings, Boy Scouts, community, and church-sponsored music programs. We also strive to be open to new and expanding ideas.

The St. Francis Creche, a thriving, self-sustaining pre-school, has served our community for over 20 years. While enrollment varies, it ranges from 40 to 63 students with 11-12 teachers. It includes an extended-care program for both before and after school as well as additional programs like the school’s eight-week enrichment classes from kitchen to STEM and more. The Creche brings the incomparable magic of the voices of young children ringing throughout our halls during the week.

Strengths

Our strengths include:

  • A dynamic music program led by our Choir Director, Larry Vote, a professor of music at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, an accomplished vocal soloist and conductor who has performed throughout the United States and Europe. Our music offers a wide variety of programs that uplift our worship, enrich our faith, and speak to us in many voices, as Larry brings a range of talent to augment our choir and our musical offerings.
  • Our Outreach program touches numerous community organizations in the area, including Second Story (youth support) and the Grate Patrol (feeding ministry for Loudoun County and the greater Washington area) amongst others. St. Francis was a founding partner and continues to actively participate in Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington (homeless support and guidance). Our reach extends beyond our borders through our covenant with the Diocese of Ezo in South Sudan which involves an active participation with Christians of that area both in education, feeding and logistical support for its ministries.
  • As a fun-loving group with a good sense of humor, we enjoy getting together for a variety of activities that strengthen our bonds while serving others. We have a long tradition of social activities that not only enhance our community spirit but raise funds for our various activities. Among other get-togethers, in the past we held a Gala and auction which we expect to re-institute in the near term; and parishioners have opened their homes for our Tables for Ten program of informal meals among small groups to help deepen our relationships.
  • Our property is open to the community and brings people together for a variety of activities that shift with the times. Our Invite-Welcome-Connect Committee sponsors numerous activities aimed at increasing and broadening our integration with the community, as some of our open activities have been strained by the pandemic. We have an online silent auction to raise funds for the church and numerous activities encouraging the gathering of parishioners, sustained by our common bonds.
  • We recently established the Strategic Planning and Action Committee to ensure the vitality and growth of St. Francis in both near-term and long-term timeframes through actionable strategies. We intend to play on our strengths and our resources to rejuvenate family and youth-oriented programs and growth, our community activities, and our own internal fabric. As parishioners gradually return to the vibrant in-person worship at pre-pandemic numbers, our church continues to pray, to sing, to support one another, and to follow the teachings of Jesus and the mission of St. Francis.

Historically, our parishioners have risen to the occasion when needed, and funds have become available. We have adequate, but not boundless, reserves to support the development of programs that the parish hopes to implement. We are financially sound and happy to share financial information with our candidates.

Challenges

Although we have a strong and generous congregation of 105 active families and 24 marginally active families, we have not developed the growth in our worship community and youth programs commensurate with the energy of the surrounding area. We are a maturing parish that has experienced loss through family transitions to other areas and death of long time parishioners. Especially after the pandemic we have struggled to return to the energy level we achieved in past decades. Our visibility in the local community has lessened in the last ten years. Our level of social activities has fallen; and there are several programs that were once highly valued that have virtually disappeared, although many are prepared to see them return. As a result, our energy level needs a stimulant to raise it up to our past involvements and to serve as an enticement to the surrounding community. These are not small challenges as they will require energy and inspiration to kick start them again. At the same time, the memories of past activities lie dormant, waiting for them to be brought back to life by the right stimulant.

We have not been entirely idle. Our Creche school continues its dynamic programs with a population of over 50 preschoolers. We reopened our nursery during worship services, and a local teacher and parishioner have begun implementation of a program directed at high school youth. Recently our children’s chapel, held during services, welcomed six children. We had a large confirmation class of youth in 2024. We have a plan to reestablish our Sunday School as soon as possible and an impetus is underway to lessen some of the restrictions that have encumbered ease of access to our facilities. We are in negotiations to allow a professional cotillion organization to utilize our facility this upcoming Fall for children in grades 4-6. Our new website is under design and will go live this summer.

Our Strategic Action and Planning Committee (SPAC) has completed a survey of parishioners to help identify areas of focus and has recommended a series of actions directed toward the implementation of new programs and improvements in our current activities to address these challenges. The recommendations are now before the vestry for specific actions.

Comments

Qualities we seek in a Priest in Charge:

We are looking for a leader who, building on our strengths, can reengage those who are present in the community, but no longer active members, and strengthen St. Francis through involvement with the larger community around us. We need someone who is family and youth oriented and excited about building and strengthening youth-oriented teaching and social programs to fulfill the needs of families in the surrounding community. Someone who embodies caring for our people in a way that makes them feel comfortable in talking with the priest. A person flexible and attuned to the wide spectrum of generations, both youth with their social media facility and the boomer generation with their more reserved sensitivities. Someone who is dependable and likes to get things done in a commonsense way. A skilled communicator who values her/his connection with people. A person who looks forward to working with the church community to develop new activities and strengthen old ones in a caring and supportive way. A good shepherd may be a useful metaphor to bear in mind.

Our people are ready to move forward in a number of ways and have already started initiatives to build up our youth program and our fellowship activities both internally and with open arms to the broader community. We have possibilities for staff realignment and potential new hires. We have a great history with additional clergy and identified funds specifically for the hiring of an assistant priest, a welcome addition to our staff.

Evaluation criteria for candidates:

  • Spiritual leadership skills guiding members and newcomers, young and old on the mission of St Francis.
    • Relating your spiritual growth and life to members of our congregation.
    • Advising the Invite-Welcome-Connect Committee with an emphasis on “Invite.”
  • To invigorate young adult and youth Christian education programs.
  • Ability to listen actively and respond to the needs of the parishioners.
  • Ability to balance the traditional and contemporary.
  • Inspiration – new ideas, alternative worship opportunities, creative sermons.
  • Exhibit compassion and empathy.
  • Ability to listen actively and respond to the needs of both old and young parishioners.
  • Provide pastoral counseling to address emotional, relational, and spiritual challenges.
  • Engage children and teens in the church community.
  • Willingness to be engaged in the community (e.g., going to local games, concerts, and Great Falls Village activities).
  • Interested in providing rapport with and encouragement for our traditional outreach programs and new, developing needs.
  • Organizational Proficiency.
  • Identify opportunities to improve operations efficiencies.
  • Set goals for and guide salaried employees.
  • Recruit and manage volunteers, inspire teamwork, and delegate appropriately.
  • Work to find solutions to challenges or requests.
  • Appreciation for Music and Art/Nature.
  • Expand on the strong musical foundation of St. Francis and connections with outside musicians and partners (St. Mary’s, Amadeus, etc.) to make St. Francis a destination for spiritual growth through music.
  • Incorporate the unique setting of St. Francis (trees, animals, clear glass sanctuary, labyrinth) to enhance worship and attract newcomers.
  • Leverage the St. Francis history of supporting quilters, knitters, and other artisans to enhance worship and attract newcomers.

Contact Information

To apply, please send a cover letter, OTM, and a resume (if desired) to the Rev. Shirley Smith Graham, ssmithgraham@episcopaldiocese.org. If questions, please email or call: 804-622-3180.