Dear Beloved St. Philip Family,
The vestry believes that it is time for St. Philip to consider resting in the Lord, to lay down this Parish, and together with God, let the Spirit do a new work on this small plot of land that has been our home.
All of us who have been at St. Philip the Deacon recently have seen a decrease in attendance. We’ve lost members who have passed away or moved away or whose health or age prevents their attendance. While we’ve also seen a few new worshippers on a regular basis and these folk feel welcome and included, it hasn’t been enough.
We don’t anticipate being able to raise enough money to cover our ongoing costs. We simply do not have the financial resources to continue having a full time or even part time clergy person for very much longer. In addition, the building requires significant and costly repairs in order to remain functional and operational.
More importantly, however much we want to continue to serve, the age and health of our members precludes the vital energy that once marked this parish as a cornerstone of our community. We now lack the critical mass of energetic people necessary to lead and carry out our core ministries, and engage in new ministries, a fact that is not likely to change
The Vestry has discussed our options at length. We could go to part-time or supply clergy and keep our doors open a bit longer, but we would be forced to rely on each other for many more tasks. This is already a problem as we are an aging congregation with limited time and energy. Building maintenance would continue to be a problem. Inevitably, we would run out of money and fade away.
We don’t like the image of “fading away.” St. Philip has been a vital and dynamic presence in the lives of individuals, families and this community since 1911. Choosing to close on our own timeline would allow us to celebrate our shared history, honoring our connection with one another other and our many contributions to the community at large. What if we shaped our legacy, deciding together to contribute our remaining assets to our community in the form of affordable housing (which is still in the works!), or donating to an ongoing diocesan program on race, or another organization of our choice (see what St. John’s Lutheran did with the sale of its land)?
Rather than pledging money for 2023, we are asking you to do the following:
- Please join us for two congregational meetings where we will discuss our future, and answer questions: December 11th and January 8th.
- Attend the Annual Meeting on January 29th where we will continue the discussion, and enrolled members will vote on our future.
- Hold your pledge until the annual meeting at which time we will all know better how best to support our future.
We have been good and faithful servants, and the Spirit of this community is still with us, despite the aging of our bodies. Our mission for the future calls us to be willing to be transformed in ways we cannot yet see, and of which we may not be a part.
We realize that this letter will raise many questions. Please feel free to contact any member of the Vestry. We want to be clear and transparent about the reality of our situation as a parish, and together make the best decision we can.
With love and gratitude,
The Vestry of St. Philip the Deacon
The Rev’d Maria McDowell, Rector
Pat Dickerson, Senior Warden
Paula Webb, Junior Warden