On Monday evening, June 13, the Cathedral Vestry had its first of three “Transition Planning Meetings” with the Rev. Gary Jones. Throughout the month of June, the vestry is looking forward to a celebration of gratitude for the ministry we have had with Dean Brian, and we will be working with Gary, Dean Brian, and our Bishop to prepare for our next chapter of ministry. One of our first tasks with Gary is to review our current ministries: committees, key leaders in each area of ministry, near-term needs and concerns for each ministry, and general observations about each area of ministry – Outreach, Worship and Music, Education/Formation for all ages, Hospitality and Evangelism, Pastoral Care, Stewardship, Communication, and more. All of this will help us take fresh stock of the cathedral and will certainly be helpful to prospective candidates for our next dean.
This review is also laying the groundwork for a “Parish Profile” that will include important input from the entire cathedral community. This profile will be posted on our website for prospective candidates for dean, and it will include results of a cathedral survey and in-person discussions. There is much more to come later this summer about how members will be able to provide your much-needed input, so please stay tuned! Your contributions are key.
We are also working closely with Bishop Paul-Gordon Chandler and the diocesan office in several areas, from listing our search with the Office of Transition Ministries at the national level of The Episcopal Church, to developing job descriptions and tending our finances and accounting. The vestry is strongly encouraged by the leadership and enthusiasm of our bishop and diocesan staff, and we count ourselves especially blessed to have a bishop who cares so deeply about our thriving.
Also at this first meeting, the vestry recognized that after a dean departs, the senior warden becomes the primary source of continuity in leadership for a cathedral, as she assumes a greater role in communicating and coordinating affairs of the cathedral, along with an interim dean (we’ll be learning more about the interim dean soon). Therefore, the vestry authorized and requested that our senior warden, Robbie Darnall, should work especially closely with Dean Brian for the remainder of his time here. Brian of course remains our dean for the duration of his time with us, but he is delighted to have this partnership and close working relationship with our senior warden. Especially regarding decisions that will have lasting consequences beyond Brian’s tenure, Robbie’s involvement in such decisions will be crucial. Fortunately, Brian and Robbie already enjoy a very supportive relationship, and both anticipate a healthy and gradual distribution of responsibilities to vestry, volunteers, and committees, so that the cathedral will function smoothly and confidently in Brian’s absence.
In addition, good communication and timely information will be more important than ever in this time of transition, and the vestry committed to keeping the cathedral community updated by way of our website, Wednesday emails, Sunday announcements, and the monthly “Cathedral Chimes.” We are especially grateful to Jordan Bishop who, even during his illness, has done a fabulous job of tending our website.
This first meeting of the vestry was characterized by insightful suggestions, excellent questions, an upbeat spirit, and most of all, a deep love for our cathedral. There was a confident feeling that we are not left solely to our own devices in this time of transition; rather, Christ is walking with us. As Gary put it, the Emmaus Story is our story – we are walking with Christ even when we do not recognize it. And although this time of transition surely requires our best efforts, our primary role might be to listen carefully for the ways in which Christ is speaking to us through one another, as well as in sanctuary of our own hearts.
Finally, just as we opened with prayer led by our dean, we also closed with prayers said by members of the vestry, with different voices intoning words that have been dear to Episcopalians generation after generation: “…so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you…,” “So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love…,” “…support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed…,” “Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.” It is in this peace that passes all understanding that the vestry looks ahead with all the members of the St. Matthew’s Cathedral, knowing that God is preparing for us – for our beloved dean and for our beloved cathedral – more than we can ask or imagine.