- Feb 20, 2015
- Category: General
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Dear People of Holy Innocents:
Last November, our vestry invited us to take a Leap of Faith, to PRAY, LOVE, and SERVE. Your response was inspiring: stewardship was the most generous and timely in our parish’s history. We ended 2014 on solid financial ground with commitments for 2015 exceeding the prior year.
In the SERVE portion of the Leap of Faith Brochure, the vestry announced three areas of concentration for mission:
- Children, living into our name and being advocates for those most at-risk;
- Local community, desiring deeper presence beyond the walls; and
- Partners who could collaborate in our efforts.
The vestry is now preparing to take bolder steps to make this service possible. Desiring mission that brings all these areas together, an Outreach Summit was called with a small group of leaders to help discern how God might be calling. Led by Jackie Stradley, one of our own with vast experience in the non-profit sector, their prayerful discernment was shared with the vestry at its retreat at Kanuga this past week.
At this point, we have not fully discerned what God is calling us toward, but to enter intentionally into that discernment, we must devote additional resources. Therefore, the vestry has unanimously authorized the following actions recommended from the Outreach Summit. I am most excited to share this good news.
First, The Rev. Joshua Case will transition to become Associate Rector for Mission. He will manage and oversee our discernment for service, developing a strategic mission plan. This shift will, of course, require new dreams for formation, which he currently oversees. This transition will also impact our youth, but with the exciting announcement below, we’re also thrilled to announce strategic additions to our youth program.
Second, we will hire a part time resource assistant in the third quarter to support our work in mission. Shifting Joshua’s position and hiring a professional assistant will further our goal of engendering a more organic, hands-on approach to our work in the world. However, we will not depend upon this staff to accomplish mission. Instead, we will build a network of service throughout our whole community, hoping for all people active at Holy Innocents to have direct involvement in the fulfillment of our mission.
I want to thank the parish and vestry for the boldness with which we are moving forward. The dream to serve children, the parish beyond our walls, and work collaboratively is no small order. Our discernment is not leading to small projects, but toward a daring proposition in our community. Ongoing work with outreach partners will continue as we discern the bold steps God is calling us toward. I ask for your prayers as this vision becomes more concrete in the coming months. Such work is enlivening and fulfilling, to be sure, but also daunting. Our patience, prayers, and presence, not to mention our additional resources, will be important factors in fulfillment. May we be willing as God directs.
Curate Called to Holy Innocents
It is with great pleasure that I announce the call of The Reverend William “Will” Smyth Stanley to Holy Innocents beginning in June. Will is completing his studies at Yale Divinity School where he is not only completing a Masters of Divinity but likewise a certificate from Yale’s Institute for Sacred Music. A graduate of the University of the South, Sewanee (B.A. Religion and Music), he grew up at St. Columba’s, Washington, DC. He is a candidate to the priesthood in the Diocese of Atlanta via the Lilly Endowment’s Internship Program, sponsored by All Saints parish.
A curate is a newly ordained priest called to serve in all areas of ministry; it is a time of training when the new priest is immersed in parish life. We are grateful to Bishop Wright and Canon Schuster-Weltner of the Diocese of Atlanta for encouraging our discernment with seminarians from our Diocese this year. We are excited that Will’s studies in music, including being a member of the American Boys Choir in middle school and singing through the years at The Landon School and Sewanee, will enhance our program with children. Among his duties, he will become chaplain to our children’s music program.
This great news also comes with some sad news for Holy Innocents. Timothy Sommer Seamans, who serves as Lower School Chaplain at HIES, has been instrumental in our youth and young adult program. Timothy is now a postulant for the priesthood in the Diocese of Atlanta; that is not the bad news. That is wonderful news! However, the Bishop has re-assigned him to another parish for training in keeping with his policies. Timothy will remain in the Lower School as Chaplain, but will no longer be working in the parish. Because we knew of this development, our discernment about the next priest at Holy Innocents included the reality of calling someone who was able to carry on the great work Timothy has begun. Will can step into the roles Timothy had with youth and young adults, bringing an even deeper presence.
The announcement about Joshua’s transition on staff also necessitates saying a bit more about how we are expanding our approach to youth. Joshua will continue to manage our youth formation. However, he will concentrate on a team approach that will strengthen our program greatly. Emily Bartlett, our seminarian from Emory, will serve a three-year appointment to us; we are expanding her hours with youth ministry. Then, this summer, Will’s presence will add yet another facet to our program building upon Timothy’s work. In addition, we are exploring hiring a “peer minister,” a recent college graduate who would work in our community as a relationship builder among our youth, someone to attend activities, show up where the kids are, and reach more deeply into their lives; we must raise additional funding for this position to become a reality. This team will provide a comprehensive approach to youth ministry that has been sorely needed.
All this news represents how vibrant our parish is today. Taken together, we are expanding our ability to serve the world while also recognizing the need to increase our ministry with children, youth, and young adults. Exciting times await us.
Will is an energetic young man with a wonderful sense of humor. He will bring a musical presence to us that will greatly enhance our parish, especially for our children. He will also bring much to our youth, young adults, and indeed, the whole parish. A note from him follows.
Blessings on the journey.
Grace and peace,
From the Curate
Dear People of Holy Innocents’,
It is a joy and delight to write to you as your soon-to-be curate. I have seen first-hand the exciting things God is up to in your midst, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to become part of your community. I could not be happier to join your excellent team of clergy and lay staff led by your dynamic rector.
Michael has alluded to some of my own background. I’m a native Washingtonian and cradle Episcopalian. Ever since I can remember, Church has been home, out of which my own sense of call to the priesthood grew. Over the years that sense of home, of belonging, followed me to Sewanee, where through the workings of the Holy Spirit I first came to know the Diocese of Atlanta. With this call to Holy Innocents’, I will return to the Diocese that adopted me so many years ago and where our bishop, +Rob Wright, ordained me to the diaconate just this past December.
Over the next several months, I will complete my three years here at Yale. It has been a wonderfully rich time of learning and growing, an environment in which my faith and sense of vocation has been challenged and affirmed in myriad ways. Even as this time of formation has been wonderful, I am ready and excited for what is next with the generous people of Holy Innocents’.
I come to you ready to learn, ready to listen. For me to be a curate is to serve among you with my ears and eyes especially open to the ways God is shaping and forming me, providing me a sure foundation that will support the rest of my priestly life. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.
Your friend in Christ,
The Rev. Will Stanley