Not your average vestry assignments...

Lots of good things came out of our vestry retreat this past Saturday, not the least of which was the sure and certain knowledge that our parish is led by some of the smartest, most creative and hardest-working individuals I’ve ever met. What a pleasure this group is to be around. I think it’s going to be a good year.


We talked about a lot of things, but the thing we spent the most time on was figuring out the best ways to organize ourselves for action in the coming year. Ideally, each vestry member has some area of parish life over which he or she takes charge. Last year, we had an outreach chair, a parish life chair, a hospitality chair, a pastoral care chair, an evangelism chair, etc. Now, I’m not saying that last year’s structure didn’t work, because we accomplished a lot. But I wondered if there might not be a still better way to tap into people’s passions, further empowering them.


So rather than assign the usual jobs, we flipped the process on its head. Instead, we began by brainstorming a blue-sky vision of what we would like to see happen at St. James this year.


Among the ideas:

  • Participating in the Carnation Festival
  • Repeating the success of last year’s St. James Day, St. Nicholas Party and Mardi Gras
  • Finally getting our Heritage Room created
  • Developing a better way to provide care to members who are sick, including meal delivery and regular phone check-ins
  • Sponsoring a refugee family
  • More hands-on outreach projects, including St. Clare’s and Project Angel Heart
  • Better incorporation of newcomers
  • Reviving our spring tea
  • Sending out email reminders to folks of upcoming events


There were more. Our vestry has no shortage of good ideas. This is just a sample.


After brainstorming for awhile, we shifted to the nuts of bolts of what is actually doable. ndividual vestry members were able to lay claim to those ideas that energized them most – always with the understanding that the job would not be theirs and theirs alone to do. Rather, they are empowered to reach into the congregation and build teams to work on every project.


The result is some pretty diverse portfolios of responsibility. Thus, John McCormac, our new junior warden, finds himself not just in charge of work days and fixing broken things. John is also the chair of our 2018 Saint James Day planning committee. Carol Johnson, our new senior warden – and, technically, an ex officio member of every committee – is taking on the task of organizing our library AND our outreach projects.


Karen McCall, our new treasurer and verger-in-training, has agreed also to head up the revival of our Spring Tea and the Mardi Gras party.Helen Masterson is putting her communications and networking skills to work to increase our profile in the community, She’s also overseeing the creation of our St. James Legacy Society.


Rose Applegate, who already has a finger in virtually every St. James pie, is going to start sending out email reminders.Pearl Oppliger wants us to do a better job of staying in touch with the families we adopted at Christmas – and those we hope to adopt in the future. She’s making that her mission, along with other acts of hospitality.


Newcomer Carol Cozart is going to look out for the needs of other newcomers. She’s going to focus on growing our membership, then helping new members feel right at home.

Cathy Loomis wants to see the Heritage Room become a reality, and she wants to see us do more to provide pastoral care to those in need. And she and Pearl are going to look into how we can help a refugee family.


A couple of vestry members – JoAnn Hamm and Ginny McColm – are out of town and weren’t able to be at the vestry retreat. But I have no doubt that both will have some definite ideas about what they’d like to see in their portfolios as well.


Now that the vestry is organized in this way, the next step is to empower every parishioner in the same way. Is there something YOU would like to see happen at St. James in 2018? Is there some job or project or idea about which you feel great energy? You don’t have to be on the vestry to step up and take charge of it. Or, if you’re reluctant to assume responsibility, is there something you’d like to help someone else do? See me. I'm ready to empower you to do it!


Every single person in our parish brings special skills, talents and experiences. We each have something unique and wonderful to contribute to our common life. And in a small parish such as ours, nobody gets to coast. Each of you is vital to the continuing mission and ministry of St. James. Thank you all for your willingness to live into that call.