Dearest St. Philip family,
I am writing to let you know that I have received and accepted a call to serve as Rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Tacoma, Washington. While I am excited about the new opportunities and ministry that awaits me at Christ Church, I have been mourning my impending departure from St. Philip ever since I started to apply. As many of you know, we simply do not have enough money to afford a full-time clergy person.
I have loved serving at St. Philip, I have loved getting to know each one of you, learning about the amazing and beautiful lives you are living, and the way this parish has been a steadfast witness to God’s abundant grace and justice in NE Portland. I am so grateful I was able to begin my ordained ministry with you, to creatively worship with you, to advocate for housing with you, to be welcomed into your lives. I will carry all that I learned at St. Philip with me for the rest of my ministry. Thank you.
My last day in the office will be Thursday, November 30th, and my last Sunday Eucharist will be November 26th, Christ the King/Thanksgiving. As that is also “Gathering our Gifts” Sunday, as you commit yourselves to the future of St. Philip, and have a celebratory meal together. Please come if only because I want to celebrate with you one more time!
Once I leave, the leadership of the parish will be in the hands of your stalwart Wardens, Pat Dickerson and Paula Webb, and the Vestry. We are all working to get supply clergy in place for December and beyond. I will no longer be able to function as your priest or pastor, and for the foreseeable future, I will only be able to visit St. Philip at the invitation of my successor. At this time, Rebecca Rainey plans to continue as Parish Administrator and Paula Norman as bookkeeper, though their hours in the building may reduce.
Please come alongside Pat, Paula and the Vestry, and step in to help share liturgical leadership, to keep our doors open during the week, take care of the building, and continue to get to know our neighbors. The future of this parish is in the present, and in your hands. I look forward to hearing about how you continue to welcome your neighbors, and how alongside God, Christ and the Spirit, you are seeking to be a vital presence in the lives of individuals, neighbors, and the community.
And I will miss you.
With much love and many prayers,
The Rev. Dr. Maria Gwyn McDowell