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Parish Discernment Process

In the fall of 2018, St. Andrew's entered into a process of discernment following the closure of our school. Parishioners participated in meetings together, and in meetings that included members of our community. A Community Listening Session allowed us all to learn about the needs in our city. 

Discernment Process Updates: 

Multi-use Community Outreach Facility already underway!
As we are forming the Building Implementation Team to oversee and foster the functioning of the Multi-Use Community Outreach Facility, people in our community are already reaching out to us with requests to use the former day school classrooms. Here is a brief summary of what is happening so far.

Building Implementation Team forming
In order to convert the former school space into a multiuse outreach facility, we need to create a Building Implementation Team. Click here for details and to learn how you can be a part of the team.

Building Discernment Team completes its work
The Building Discernment Team has worked many months to determine the best use for the former day school spaces. Their recommendation was submitted to and approved by the Vestry. Click here to read all about it.

Current Building Use (Posted April 29, 2019)

Our Building Discernment Team has been hard at work for weeks following up on the many suggestions made about how best to use our school facilities to serve the community.  We look forward to receiving their recommendation(s) sometime this summer.  In the meantime, however, the school spaces have not been standing empty! 

  • A Hilton playgroup meets in our building every Tuesday and Wednesday morning, providing games and art and learning for our youngest neighbors.  Brad leads songs for the children with his guitar, and Lorna visits regularly to get to know the children and the parents. 
  • Our Ferguson Street playground for small children is getting lots of use every day.  Wardens John Whitley and Chris Robinson recently power-washed all of the equipment.  Many of our neighbors have posted words of thanks on Facebook for the use of the playground.
  • From May 7 through 24, students from the Warwick High School International Baccalaureate Program will be using some of our classrooms as quiet space for taking exams.
  • Longstanding building users such as the bagpipe instructor who provides lessons on Saturday mornings in the music room and the German American group that gathers in our parish hall continue to meet on a regular basis, as well. 

We look forward to what God’s future holds for our building, and in the meantime we give thanks for those from our community who are enjoying our space and resources.

Introducing the Building Discernment Team! (Posted February, 2019)

With our February meeting, we have completed the first step of our building discernment process: the gathering of information and suggestions from parishioners, neighbors, and community leaders. The next step of the process—sifting through the many building use suggestions we have received (click here for that list) and determining which would be most feasible for our situation—will be carried out for us by a seven-member team of parish and community leaders. The members of the team are: St. Andrew’s parishioners Susan Connor, Ted Hemmert, David Lilley, Elise Wall, and Allie Wittkamp; and neighbors Crystal Cyr and April Miller. David Lilley is chairing the team. 

We are grateful to the members of the team for offering their valuable time and skills to this work on our behalf. They will keep us posted about their progress. The building discernment team hopes to finish their work sometime this summer and will present the vestry with three proposals to consider. The final decision will be made by the vestry.

Reports from Discernment Meetings

Notes from Introductory Meetings
Three introductory meetings were held Sept. 25, 26 & 30, 2018 to prepare us to enter into the discernment process. A total of 87 people attended the meetings. Participants were asked: Describe our parish community; What is our mission; and Whom do we seek to serve? Click here for the results of those meetings.

Notes from October 18 Meeting
Click here for the notes from the first of our three Parish Discernment meetings held October 18, 2018 which include an assignment for our next session on Nov. 8. Click here for the prayer/poem read at the opening of that meeting, "Keep Me In Touch with My Dreams."

Notes from  Community Listening Session
Click here for notes from the Community Listening Session held on Nov. 27, 2018 that included members of our community as well as St. Andrew's parishioners.

Notes from January 24, 2019 Meeting
Click here for notes from the parish gathering on Jan. 24, 2019 to tour the former school facility and reflect on the November 27, 2018 Community Presentations. 

Notes from February 21, 2019 Meeting
Click here for the list of building use ideas discussed at this meeting. The next step of the process—sifting through these ideas and determining which would be most feasible for our situation—will be carried out for us by a seven-member team of parish and community leaders. The members of the team are: St. Andrew’s parishioners Susan Connor, Ted Hemmert, David Lilley, Elise Wall, and Allie Wittkamp; and neighbors Crystal Cyr and April Miller. David Lilley is chairing the team. 

Being & Becoming: Goals for Our Future

Being&Becoming imageWe started the “Being and Becoming” conversation before we knew that St. Andrew’s Episcopal School would be closing, and then we paused in our work in order to attend to the closing of the school and the beginning of discernment. Our work of discerning together our future in the wake of that closure can’t help but incorporate at least some of the three goals of “Being and Becoming” (see below). Once our discernment is over and our new mission(s) started, we can reassess which of the “Being and Becoming” goals, if any, still need our attention.

Goal 1:  Being Church

Being Church includes all of the things we usually do as a parish: offering worship, pastoral care, Christian formation, and fellowship; and engaging in mission and outreach. What’s new and, I think, critical is the challenge to be Church to two different groups:

  1. Those currently in our pews: many longtime members, many older folks, those comfortable and familiar with our patterns of worship, life, and ministry.
  2. Those who (mostly) are not in our pews: young adults, families with small children, those who didn’t grow up in the church, those for whom our ways of doing things feel foreign or unhelpful.

Being church to these two groups simultaneously will require flexibility, creativity, careful listening, loving respect, and a willingness to experiment (and, necessarily, fail periodically).

Goal 2:  Offering intentional, authentic relationships with God and others, even across the usual divides

As Christians, our primary relationship is with God through Jesus Christ, in whom we are all part of one Body and by whom we are called to love and serve those inside and outside that Body. God loved and loves us while we are still sinners; we are to offer that same grace to others.

Intentional relationships don’t simply happen; they are created and nurtured when we reach out in love to those who differ from us in age, socio-economic status, race, political belief, or any other category that normally separates us. Authentic relationships acknowledge human brokenness and foibles as well as human achievements and accomplishments; they are made possible as we dare to live and speak with integrity and vulnerability and to offer and receive forgiveness. Authentic relationships, including our relationship with God, have room for doubt and uncertainty, change and growth.

Goal 3:  Re-engaging in our neighborhood

We are so blessed to be in the midst of Hilton Village with its vibrant community life and abundance of families with children—but in general those families with children are not part of St. Andrew’s, although many of them participate in VBS and/or come to us on Halloween. The history of St. Andrew’s Church contains many stories of active engagement in the neighborhood:  door to door visits in the early years to invite people to church; starting a kindergarten to serve the community; creating a library for the community. What would more active engagement in our community look like now?  What needs could we meet? 

Being & Becoming Resources

A note from Anne+  --  The Alban Institute at Duke Divinity School, which has focused for 40 years on congregational growth and transformation, has great resources available. Not everything is relevant to our three goals for St. Andrew's, but many items are. Here are articles from recent editions that I thought might be helpful. I welcome other suggestions of resources to add to this list.

"Human beings will find alternative to meaning and community if real ones aren't given." -- The Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop & Primate of the Episcopal Church

Radical Sending: Go to Love and Serve
This book by Demi Prentiss and Fletcher Lowe was published in 2015. It was written by Episcopalians for Episcopalians in order to empower the laity for their ministries beyond the church doors.

Alban Institute
Now affiliated with Duke University, the Alban Institute helps leaders connect and learn from one another by sharing practical wisdom, stories of thriving congregations and transformational models of ministry.

"Watchfulness"is a better word for leadership than "vision"
The transformation of dead space into sacred space shows us the importance of watchfulness.

Knowing your community, defining your mission
Getting to know the community that your congregation will focus on is a critical step in defining your mission. To start, work on getting answers to several key questions.

New questions for a new day
This is a time for out-of-the box thinking. Old questions keep is in the box. New questions invite us to move outside.

When the mission changes
What if times change so much that the original mission starts to look like a mistake?

We're in the innovation business
How our changing cultural context is reshaping church leadership.

What is innovation?
Innovation doesn't have to be huge to be worthwhile. It can be a small experiment, a risk that won't harm your institution but has the potential for measurable gain.

Amazon, Whole Foods and the future of the brick-and-mortar church
Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods illustrates that innovation isn't always about starting over but about understanding where and how a community gathers.

Kuhnekt Initiative builds relationships among church members
Award-winning ministry pairs members for monthly meetings.

A rural church is bringing people together affected by the opioid epidemic
A small church's campaign is impacting struggling people.

How do we make a lasting impact in a culture of instant gratification?
As communities of faith, what do we do that can endure 500 years?

Five cultural shifts that should affect the way we do church
It's probably good that most churches aren't wrapped up in the latest fads. But there are cultural shifts congregations and church leaders need to track and respond to sensibly.

Evangelism Matters Conference
An innovative gathering, Evangelism Matters 2018 is for those seeking to share, learn, and grow the Church’s capacity and passion for evangelism. Many sessions will be available via livestream and online archive.


Last Published: September 11, 2019 1:01 PM