After much prayer, conversation, and discernment, the Vestry has voted on a new SsJA Mission. It reflects the work of our Vestry, a hardworking subcommittee, and parishioner feedback as shared at the three church chats in January, February, and March. Thank you for your participation, prayer, and support as we at SsJA seek to follow God's greatest hopes and desires for our community.
We believe God is calling us to cultivate a community of love,
joy, hope, and healing.
Jesus is our model for a life of faith, compassion, hospitality,
We strive to
be affirming and accessible,
welcoming and inclusive;
we seek to
exercise responsible stewardship, and
embrace ancient traditions for modern lives.
Our Vestry is working hard to ensure we build a strong foundation for James and Andrew as we continue to cultivate our new community of faith and discern where God is calling our community in the coming years. In order to do this well, we are focused on three things in particular: Vestry 2.0, Renewal Works, and discerning our vision, mission, and values.
Vestry 2.0 is a diocesan leadership program for Vestry and other engaged lay leaders who will participate in four leadership days between September 2017 and March 2019. Our Vestry attended the first leadership day in September, where we worked on team building, identifying best practices for Vestry meetings, and learned the importance of having a clear sense of vision, mission and values. Parishioners are invited to join us for the next leadership event, Parish Leadership Day, on March 17, 2018 and a Stewardship Event on September 29, 2018.
Renewal Works is a catalyst for refocusing parishes on spiritual vitality. We are currently putting together a Renewal Works Task Force to lead this process within our parish, working alongside Renewal Works consultants. Our Renewal Works Taskforce will be led by a Facilitator, Maggie Sweeney, and an Administrator, Ella Ingraham. They will be reaching out to parishioners to join this taskforce in the coming weeks. Renewal Works will launch at James and Andrew on January 28, 2018 when the entire parish is asked to participate in a spiritual life inventory (a survey) that will be open for three weeks. The survey results will then be used to guide and inform discussions during four workshops where our Renewal Works Taskforce will consider our spiritual vitality and the ways that God is calling James and Andrew to grow. Specific outcomes of the Renewal Works process are unique to each parish, reflecting that community’s specific challenges and opportunities. They lead to the creation of specific congregation-wide growth initiatives which clarify and elevate expectations for clergy, lay leaders and individuals. All churches in our diocese that are participating in Vestry 2.0 are also participating in Renewal Works.
Discerning our vision, mission, and values: As an emerging parish, we recognize how important it is that we discern our new parish's vision, mission, and values. At our November meeting we had a good first conversation about mission, vision, and values. We appointed a subcommittee, led by Rev. Molly, to work on drafting a statement of vision, mission, and values that will be shared at three church chats in early 2018. We hope all parishioners will participate in these church chats, so that your feedback will go back to the subcommittee who will make a final proposal for the Vestry to consider at their April 14, 2018 retreat. We ask that you save the date for the upcoming church chats, and when you know your schedule, please sign up on the bulletin board outside the chapel.
January 7 from 2-4 p.m.
Di and Alan Kurkulonis Home
38 Taylor Hill Rd., Montague, MA
February 4 from 2-4 p.m.
Jason and Erica Burns Home
8 Hall Ave, Greenfield, MA
March 4 from 2-4 p.m.
Kathryn Aubry-McAvoy and John McAvoy's Home
72 Davis St., Turners Falls, MA 01376
In addition to this important work, at our January 16, 2018 meeting we will have our annual Mutual Ministry Review led by Rev. Cn. Pamela Mott so the Clergy and Vestry can give pause and reflect on our mutual ministry at James and Andrew.
On Saturday, October 28 at the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts Diocesan Convention, James and Andrew was one of three emerging churches welcomed into the larger church. For the sixteen parishioners from James and Andrew, it was an emotional, and moving moment that brought up memories from April 23, Emerging Sunday. Below is a picture of our new banner, produced by the leaders of St. Andrew's Guild (in a mere 5 days); our group being welcomed at Convention; and a special order video about the three emerging churches played at convention.
During the month of September 89 different parishioners participated in our Discerning a Name survey.
When we look at that same information by congregation of origin:
After much prayer and conversation, the Clergy, Wardens, and Vestry voted to make the following changes regarding our merged community's identity and name based on your feedback:
We will keep "The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew" and make it our legal name. A common thread we heard from the ‘keep’ votes was a desire to preserve our individual histories as St. James and St. Andrew. In making our name The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew we are honoring those individual histories while recognizing we are a new ‘emerged’ community of faith. We also recognized in our discussion just how many of our community partners and neighbors already know and are refering to us as "James and Andrew". The Vestry found this energizing and hopeful. We will send a press release to agencies we work with to further communicate this decision.
We will refer to ourselves in everyday speech by saying "Church of James and Andrew" or "James and Andrew". This will prevent further frustration in saying “Saints”.
We will embrace Saint James the Greater as the ‘James’ and Saint Andrew as our Patron Saints. While the history is murky on which James we are actually named after, there are a whole lot of scallop shells indicating it is the Greater throughout the campus. We would be able to celebrate both of their feast days (a beloved tradition in Turners, and no such tradition in Greenfield). James feast day is July 25 (which we would celebrate near the fourth Sunday in July) and Andrew’s feast day is November 30th (which we will celebrate on the last Sunday in November in lieu of Christ the King).
We will be intentional about not 'dropping a saint' when we refer to our church's name. We recognize it takes time and will be patient with one another as our mouths get used to referring to our new church name. We'll gently remind one another of our new name as we live into our new identity as an emerged parish.
We will budget to redo the the signage around the campus in the next six months: new directional signage, a new sign for the front of the church, and a new metal Episcopal sign that hangs on a pole in front of our campus. If you would like to donate to the fund for the new signage please write a check to Saints James and Andrew with "sign fund" in the memo line.
Thank you for journeying with us as we discerned a name, particularly your prayers and participation in the process.
Rev. Heather and Rev. Molly
We have lived together as the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew for four months. A joyous four months, where much like clay in a potter’s hands we are finding ways that we are being molded by God into something new entirely--a piece that has not quite yet taken it’s final form. Some of the clay is more tedious to mold, while some comes together effortlessly. Through it all, we know God is with us, making our path straight.
We promised our two former communities in Turners and Greenfield that in our first year together we would discern a name: whether to keep the name we have been doing business as “The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew” and make it our legal name, or whether to choose a new name altogether-- St. James and St. Andrew are no more.
During the month of September we are asking parishioners to fill out this Google Form to submit their thoughts. There are also hard copies in the office and in the Narthex. In October, Rev. Heather, Rev. Molly, and Co-Wardens will then compile that information and share it with the Vestry. From there we will identify a Step 2 in discerning a name.