Rector's Reflection: Passing the Torch: Vestry Officers
I wonder if you know the story (I may have told it before) of the day in Advent 2019 when I came to Gale House to meet with Hamish and Renée about the possibility of becoming your Rector. You had extended an invitation to me before I had completed my own discernment process, and your Wardens offered to meet with me. We sat in the third floor meeting room, and they both listened to where I was with openness and care. I remember feeling that Christ was in the room in the presence of these two parish leaders who I had yet to know. Hamish offered me some wisdom (a bit from his mom and a bit from the Wind in the Willows, of course) and Renée offered deep listening and compassion. It would not be long before I found my enthusiastic "Yes!" (not unlike Mole in the Wind in the Willows, smelling home and following his nose to where he was meant to be) and they invited me, again, to spend time with them. We sat in Hamish's condo for seven hours hashing out the details of my covenant over a ridiculous amount of coffee cake and coffee. Since then, for almost two years, they have met with me weekly. I know their dedication and warm presence preceded me here. They have gone above and beyond at every turn in the road as your wardens since early 2019.
One of the most time-intensive, intellectually demanding volunteer jobs in any church has got to be the treasurer position. Linda Burgoon took on this role two years ago, and (while working full time in the medical field during a global pandemic!) climbed the steep learning curve of keeping our church finances on track. I'm not sure how many of you know this, but Linda assumes nothing. She researches every decision, learns all the systems, and double checks every process. She worked late at night and early in the morning to keep our accounts in order, create realistic budgets, and creatively problem solve in the moment over and over again, honoring the trust that was put in her to make St. Paul's good and trustworthy recipients of your gifts.
Phil is the only Clerk I have ever met who also served on the altar guild, ran the high school youth program, and repeatedly dried out a wet bell tower, all in an unflustered air of calm. His quiet, kind ministry kept the vestry organized and offered an example of gentle ministry in a number of areas of our life together. These past two years of having Phil at the vestry table have been wonderful. Above all else, Phil's deep faith was grounding and inspiring- a gift at the center of our leadership team.
As we thank these four "retiring" officers of our vestry on Sunday, and vote to bring in a new team, I am afraid there never will be enough time to truly name all that they have given us; for we each have memories, gratitudes, and moments that have been enriched by their ministry. They have carried us through transitions, buoyed us through a pandemic, and led the way in our efforts to become a more justice oriented community. As they each pass a torch, they are handing over well tended roles in a vibrant and cared for church. They have given gifts that will live on in us always. Thank you Renée, Hamish, Phil, and Linda for the self-sacrificial and beautiful work of these past years.
Illustration of Wind in the Willows by Linda Cook DeVona