On Monday March 25th, the wardens, Ruthanne, Susan Tremayne-Moon and Anne Lane, met with the potential candidate for being our curate. It was a very positive meeting. At this point, though we cannot share the person's name, we can share the details of the meeting. So feel free to ask us.
In light of that meeting, with the permission of our Area Bishop, we are calling a Special Vestry to vote on the matter of funding a curacy here at Ascension, beginning June 2019 for a period of 2 years. The parish is encouraged to engage in conversation about this matter in the meantime. This can be done in person with Ruthanne and any of the wardens. You are also welcome to e-mail us with your questions and thoughts.
At the time of the special vestry there will be time for conversation before we vote.
Here are some answers to questions already raised.
(This is a bit long winded, but there is lots to consider)
How can we afford a Curate?
We finally have concrete answers from the Diocese regarding the money from the sale of St. John Blackstock and how we might use those funds.
It was agreed that 75% of the sale proceeds would come back to the newly amalgamated parish of Ascension. These funds can be used after a positive vote by a special vestry at the parish. This amount is $211, 000.
We, the corporation, were under the impression that as part of the official agreement 25% of those funds were to be used to pay a ministry position. That may indeed have been discussed at the parish level, but it was never formally made a part of the motions that went through a special vestry here at the church, and on to Diocesan Council. Therefore, there is no restriction on how we might use the $211, 000. Apart from the fact that we need use the funds within three years of withdrawal of said funds. Withdrawal has not happened yet. They are safely held in a trust fund at the diocese.
The parish should note that discussion did happen around using that 25% portion for a ministry position and was the will of many in the parish at that time. Though we are not bound by this, let us hold that truth as we discern using the funds.
25% (taken from the total sale) of that money would amount to $70, 333. That is just under half of the cost of a curate for two years. The diocese would pay the rest of the money needed through a grant. That would leave us with $140, 667 to use. This money is not intended for investment, nor for operating costs. The church will have to discern the use of this money for ministry and associated needs in the next few years.
The diocese is keen to not let money be the issue that stops us from hiring a curate. They are willing to put more money towards this curacy, but would need from us a minimum of $55, 000.
We do not have to use the money. But it is there for us to use if we want to.
Why a curate, and why now? (And doesn't this seem a bit rushed?)
A curacy is both a gift to a parish, but also asks something of a parish. It is an apprenticeship of sorts, where a newly ordained transitional deacon grows into their ministry as an ordained priest. They are usually ordained to the priesthood, at the parish church, around 6 months after starting their curacy.
The parish is expected to be a part of that learning and teaching process. The diocese doesn't place curates just anywhere. They only place curates in congregations they feel have the capacity and strength to offer good teaching and experience.
Despite what some of us see as current challenges in our parish, we are actually in a very healthy place. Perhaps this is seen better from a longer perspective, holding what most churches are living with and through currently. The diocese feels confident not only about the leadership here, but also about the congregation as a whole. They see what you have accomplished in the past 8 years, and your passion for moving forward.
The gift to us is another person offering ministry: vision, energy, time and passion. Ruthanne has made clear that there are number of initiatives that she would love to see unfold in the fall, but currently is unable to give the time and energy to because of current demands. Some of this comes out of our Revitalization Conversations and our direction to offer varied services, and a focus on seniors ministry. Some examples include:
Starting a Family-oriented service on Sunday afternoons, followed by a light supper. A time for families with children to engage in a casual Eucharistic service and community.
More nursing home services (which we have been invited to do).
A senior's drop in at the church. For fellowship, support and community.
A mental health support group - for families and friends of those living with mental illness.
A support group for caregivers - those who are caring for family members who have age related issues that offer challenges to their lives, like mobility issues, dementia and other such issues.
A curate may take on one or two of these initiatives as part of their learning goals. And by sharing some of the weekly pastoral tasks, the curate then frees up the priest a bit to offer ministry in different areas. The goal is to start up new ministries during this time that, once grounded and going, are sustained by lay leadership in an on-going fashion.
With the direction of our Revitalization conversations, now is a good time to bring some new energy into our ministry.
As to the sense of this being rush, the reality is that there is a natural time line to this. Postulants are ordained to the transitional deaconate on May 5th. They usually placed in their curacies for the beginning of May or June. This particular curate has asked to work in a rural or semi-rural parish. Most such parishes simply do not have the money to support a curate. We've come a little late into the conversation with the diocese, because the person placing the curates only heard about the potential funds available to us ( via our Bishop) about a month ago. As soon as she did (Mary Conliffe, the Executive Director), she phoned me. I met with the potential curate to see if it might be a possible fit. We then proceeded to a longer interview with the Wardens and two lay people this past Monday.
Is there enough for a curate to do?
The answer is YES! Before we even get into new ministry ideas, a curate would be a great asset to our visiting ministry, which is currently not being attended to as some would like. Increasingly we have more people in hospital and in long-term care facilities. (We currently have three people in Oshawa General). Our lay team is rising to the task, and that is fantastic and will continue to be developed. A curate will also strengthen our ability to respond in a timely manner.
A curate also comes with their own learning goals. At first they shadow the priest quite a bit and gradually grow into participating in various parts of ministry. They will likely preach about once a month, take on some visiting, start a small group perhaps. There will be no shortage of work.
What should we be considering in preparation for our Special Vestry next Sunday?
First and foremost, please pray about this. This is a process of discernment. It is not a given, just because we have this opportunity now, that we should take it. As we are constantly reminded, God works in mysterious ways.
Ask questions and have conversations to help you understand the whole picture. The way in which approval of funds has been set up requires the whole parish to take part in the decision making. This is not the decision of the Wardens or the Priest alone. However, since the whole parish cannot interview the curate, you are being asked to trust the leadership of this church as to their impressions of the candidate. Each leader is free to speak candidly.
Money should not be the reason we do not hire a curate. We have the money and the diocese is being very generous with supplementing that money (knowing full well we actually have enough to cover the whole cost!) because placing curates in rural areas is difficult.
And some may say, well, let's do this next year instead. This is also a possibility. But it must be understood that a curate in Port Perry only will work when said available curate can either live locally or commute here and there will not always be such a person each year.
Let us remember the candidate. Please pray for them as well, as they wait to hear what their next steps might be.
From this Sunday's Psalm...
I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8