2017 Rector’s Annual Report
RECTOR’S ANNUAL REPORT – 2017
In attempting to write these annual reports through the years I have tried to find a theme for the year or at least a thought that would summarize what has gone on in the parish. It’s a real strain some years, but not for 2017. It came to me quickly as I thumbed my way through the 2017 calendar. Here’s the theme: We began the year trying to firm up and solidify the staff positions and we end the year with the staff still unsettled. This is not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a way to have a kind of skeleton on which to hang the events of the year. So let’s begin this report with the parish staff and end with the future of the staff.
Remember back at the beginning of 2017 we were still in the process of recovering from the effects of the incidents of employee dishonesty that took place in 2016. One of the major effects was the seemingly revolving door we had in our bookkeeper position. We separated the full-time parish administrator position into two part-time positions: bookkeeper and parish administrator. This arrangement made the financial aspects of administering the parish much more efficient and safer. It did mean that I had to find a number of bookkeepers and a few parish administrators in the course of a number of months. Through 2016 and 2017 God, and I believe it is indeed an act of God, has provided two very competent persons to fill these positions.
Blanca Petrillo is our part-time parish administrator and Melanie Simmons is our part-time bookkeeper. Blanca has been added to the parish staff as a permanent employee and manages all the mailings, produces the Sunday bulletins, publishes the monthly parish newsletter, answers the phone, and does all the ordering of supplies for the parish. Melanie Simmons works for Five Star Staffing and Accounting Recruiters and is here each Wednesday to pay all invoices, produce the weekly and monthly payroll for all employees, keep all the accounting records, produce monthly reports for the Vestry, and record all donations and pledge payments to the parish. Melanie has done an excellent job bringing all the financial records up to date and making sure all bank statements and investment records balance. We now have a proper separation of duties with all the income of the parish being recorded by volunteer “counters” and Melanie handling all the expenses.
Sarah Culton, our part-time Director of Christian Education and Parish Life, continues her excellent work in keeping the Church School organized, well outfitted, and supplied with volunteer teachers. As the Director of Parish Life, she maintains our website and keeps our social media sites up and active. She approaches her position with intelligence, creativity, enthusiasm, and a love for children and bringing them up to know and love Jesus Christ. We could not ask for more in a Director of Christian Education, except that we need to expand her role to a full-time position and my hope this can be achieved over the next few years. She can always use more volunteer teachers and my prayer is that more parishioners will come forward and help Sarah create an even bigger and more active Church School with all children and young people enrolled in it.
We continue to be blessed Sunday by Sunday with the ministry of John Herrman. John is our Director of Music and as such is our part-time organist and he directs the choir. His knowledge of the liturgy, his determination to present an organized and disciplined program, and his excellent talent all combine to give us a Director of Music for whom our choir truly enjoys singing. John even works with our Church School so the students can sing in our 10:30 service once per month when the Church School is in session. We continue to expect, and we receive, excellent music to enhance and deepen our offering of worship each Sunday and on other major feasts.
In November we added a ministry to enhance the opportunities for our young people to get involved in the parish. Through the generosity and interest of some parishioners, Saint Timothy’s has been given the opportunity to add a ministry that would be funded outside of the regular budget. I have asked, and Kim Bain has accepted, a position in the parish to begin what we are calling The Saint Timothy’s Youth Ensemble. Kim will rehearse and direct this vocal and instrumental group of young people and they will offer hymns, anthems, canticles, and psalms during the Christmas pageant, and also from time to time at the 10:30 a.m. Service. The ensemble is intended to be for young people, middle school and high school aged, who are not members of the parish as well as our own parishioners. This is exciting and we pray it’s a ministry that grows and flourishes.
What would we do without Charles Wiggins as our sexton? Charles has been here each Saturday and Sunday since November of 2004. That means Charles has been with us for thirteen years. He and I are the old men on the staff. Charles keeps the place clean, orderly, and keeps most things working. He is gifted in so many areas and works so well with all of the parishioners and staff. I do not look forward to the day we have to find his replacement and my only prayer is that day does not come soon.
It is a blessing to have a priest with the knowledge, experience, and such spiritual depth as Father Carreker. He is part of our parish family by choice and that makes us blessed to have him deepen our knowledge of church history, common prayer principles, the church fathers, strengthening our spiritual health, and be privileged to hear his sermons. It is our pleasure to have him and his family with us as part of our parish family.
What a gift it is for a rector to have these people work with him. As helpful and hard-working as the staff is, there is still a need for an assisting priest in the parish. The search continues for a priest to fill the position we have that would include being a part-time priest in Saint Timothy’s Church and a part-time chaplain in Saint Timothy’s School, thereby making the compensation equal to a full-time position. I have yet to find the priest to fill this position, but I have confidence God will provide. The Church and the School have been very patient in waiting for the right person, and God willing, the patience will not wear out before the person is found. This means that as solid and good as the staff has become there is still the unsettled nature of the staff because the part-time assisting priest and chaplain is not in place and with my resignation a few weeks ago, we are underscoring the unsettled situation. Remember the theme is We began the year trying to firm up and solidify the staff positions and we end the year with the staff still unsettled.
There are not many things I’ve had to do as a parish priest as difficult as resigning as rector. I truly feel that God has a new and different calling for me and answering that call to a new position came only after a great deal of prayer, thought, heart-wrenching decisions, and counsel from many faithful and trusted Christians. I am so proud of the way the Wardens and Vestry have received the news of my resignation that is effective January 28th. As difficult as it has been for my family and me, I have seen the hand of God working through this. The inspiring comments, words of encouragement, and suggestions have been helpful and reassuring and very much appreciated.
The way Cathy Elsea and Ed Watson, our Senior Warden and Junior Warden, along with the rest of the Vestry have stepped forward and even begun putting many steps in place to lead the parish through this upcoming search for the next rector is a source of hope and encouragement. They have been a great source of support to me and my family and are helping us to “say good-bye” to the parish in a healthy way. They know how concerned I am about Saint Timothy’s and the health of this place where my family and I have spent twenty-five years of our lives. My concern is that the orthodox teaching, traditional services, Biblical preaching and teaching, attentive and good pastoral care, the outreach and witness of our parochial school, and the healthy life of the parish in general will lapse, linger, and eventually be altered to the point where the Saint Timothy’s Church we know and love becomes only a thing of the past. With the care, intelligence, and sensitivity shown by the Vestry and many other parishioners it may be that my concerns are unfounded.
The general pattern churches keep when a rector resigns and leaves in the Diocese of North Carolina is not that different from many dioceses around the country. The Bishop and Vestry are informed verbally and in writing that the present rector has resigned, the parish prepares for the rector’s departure, the Vestry hires a priest to serve the parish for an interim, the Vestry forms a search committee, the search committee surveys the parish and writes a parish profile from the results of the survey, names of priests who are interested are given to the parish’s search committee, interviews are conducted, a name or names are presented to the Vestry, the Vestry elects the new rector, the Bishop assents to the priest whom the Vestry elected and arrangements are made for the priest to begin a new ministry at Saint Timothy’s. With the sensitive, knowledgeable, determined, and caring Vestry we have, I have confidence that they will select a search committee that is made up of parishioners and other representatives of the parish and the school who know and care about the special ministry and witness that Saint Timothy’s makes in the Diocese and The Episcopal Church.
We are not like many other parishes. We are a witness to how good the Common Prayer Tradition is for the life of persons’ souls. We recognize the ultimate authority of The Bible in the Church. We know that the highest and best worship we can give to God is already presented to us in The Book of Common Prayer. We know the calling we have to minister to all of God’s people and that witness is proven by the diverse and vibrant members that make up our Saint Timothy’s family. It will take the eventual search committee and our Vestry a good deal of prayer and downright hard work to find a priest with a calling to minister to this kind of parish and our prayer ought to be that they are supported by God’s grace and the help and aid of all the parishioners to find him.
Not until one reviews the “happenings” in the parish over the year does one realize what a vibrant and busy place Saint Timothy’s is. I found when I reviewed the year month-by-month there was something going on of a special nature at least every month and occasionally numerous events within a month. This must explain why some parishioners and I have commented from time to time that “There seems to be so much going on!” Why is that? Here’s a summary month-by-month of special events that occurred this past year on top of our regular services, meetings, and events: January – Vestry Retreat; February – a performance by the Raleigh Camerata; March – Special Convention to Elect the Bishop; April – The Daughters of the King Regional Meeting hosted by Saint Timothy’s; May – Drew Harmon and Amanda Mathis’s wedding; June – the Bishop’s Annual Visitation and Confirmation; July – The Consecration of Bishop Rodman; August – Saint Michael’s Conference; September – filming the promotional video; October – Men’s Fellowship Brunswick Stew Sale; November – Stewardship Weekend; December – The Annual Meeting and upcoming Christmas services. Is it any wonder we think “there’s a lot going on”? Of all these “special” activities and committees meetings, I want to give an extra-special “thank-you” to the Standing Stewardship Committee. They have been meeting for over a year with a church consultant, Peter Saros, to enhance and improve our parish development and stewardship. It is through their interest and concern for our parish that we have been able to search for, hire, meet with, plan, direct and carry out, our whole stewardship program for the past year and a half. It has been a joy working with them because they are determined to do the best for Saint Timothy’s and they are all bright and talented workers. We would not have had the successful Stewardship weekend in November or the thorough development and stewardship program that we have without them. They are: Anne Wamser, Bill Marley, Cathy Elsea, David Mason, Ed Watson, Kevin Bodiford, Margaret Soler, Ramon Soler, Marie Stewart, Meredith Elsea, Ndidi Azikiwe, Sandy Wheat, Sarah Culton, and Shawna Hastings. Please thank them when you see them.
So here we are at the end of 2017 and, in keeping with our theme for the year, our staff members are in place except now Saint Timothy’s has to begin a search for the next rector. With the Vestry and Wardens providing good leadership and the rest of us being diligent in prayer, and fulfilling jobs when asked, we can have confidence that God will provide the right priest to continue Saint Timothy’s good and faithful witness to the presence and saving work of Jesus Christ. What a deep “thank you” I give to God for blessing me and my family with a call to live and work in this wonderful parish family. A priest does not stay in a parish for twenty-five years without becoming so close to so many people. What a blessing to have known and worked here and the extra-special blessing for me is that I have learned so much more about and drawn so much closer to Jesus through knowing all of the people here at Saint Timothy’s. I will always be thankful to you for that and will always remember you.
Yours faithfully, in Christ,
The Reverend Jay C. James