Transition Updates

February 8, 2021

What does St. Aidan’s mean to you?

Dear St. Aidan’s family, 

In the next week, you will be asked to participate in a survey of the St. Aidan’s community.  The congregational survey is a key component of the self-study we are called upon to do as we prepare to seek a new rector.  Your participation in the survey will help us understand the range of views at St. Aidan’s and will give us a clear picture of who we are as a church, what directions are most important to our future, and how we as a community hope to move our ministry forward.

In addition to giving the Discernment Committee valuable insight, your input will also help us create a profile that introduces St. Aidan’s to potential candidates.  If you participate in a St. Aidan’s event, we want to hear from you!

The Survey

Those who have provided an email address to the parish office will receive an email invitation with an online link to the survey the week of February 15th.  You should be able to complete the survey in about half an hour, and all responses will be strictly anonymous.  If you would prefer to take the survey using a paper copy, please contact Darlene Ash at staidansalexandriadiscernment@gmail.com, or call the parish office at 703-360-4220 and we will provide you with a survey and self-addressed, stamped return envelope.

If we have only one email address for all members of your household, you may be tempted to have one person take the survey on behalf of your family.  Please be sure your spouse and all young adults age 16+ living in your home have an opportunity to complete the survey.  Let the parish office know how other family members can be reached, or simply share the link to the survey with those members of your family.  Individual input will help us gain insights into overall perceptions and experiences.  The survey will only be available until March 8th, so please plan to participate at your earliest convenience.

Listening Sessions

Following the survey, you will have an opportunity to participate in a group listening session to share in your own words some experiences of your life at St. Aidan's that stand out for you, as well as your hopes for the future.  Virtual listening sessions will occur on Sunday, February 28th at 1:00 pm and Wednesday, March 3rd at 7:45 pm.  You will receive a separate invitation to take part in one of these sessions.

 

Thank you for your willingness to reflect on your experience with St. Aidan’s and share your perspective on who we are called to be as we grow together in Christ.  

 

Sincerely,

 

The St. Aidan’s Discernment Committee

Lisa Richard, Chair 

Barbara Cotter

Kevin Saunders

Darlene Ash

Viju Dilley

Kathy Seikel

Pris Bornmann

Mary Jane Guffey

___________________________________________________________

 

December 31, 2020

Dear Parish Friends,

Since you last heard from us, the Discernment Committee has been meeting weekly and researching the best approach to the self-study process we will undertake as a congregation. We have studied the services of a respected consultant and met with their representative. We have sought the advice of parishes who have recently done their discernment without consulting services, and they have shared a wealth of resources.

Having done our homework, asked many, many questions, shared our hopes and concerns, and held all of this in prayer, the committee’s consensus is to move forward with a congregational survey we will design and implement ourselves. We have in hand, both from the parishes we’ve spoken with and from the Office of Transition Ministry, a great depth and breadth of resources to draw on.

So, what’s next? We now move on to crafting a survey that will capture the needs, hopes, experiences, and desires of the community. At the same time, we will work closely with Eileen, Rosemary, and the vestry to identify everyone who is in some way active in the church and its ministries so that all may be invited to participate when the survey is ready. The self-study process will also include opportunities for facilitated conversations, via Zoom, where we can share at greater length our experiences of the St. Aidan’s community and hopes for the next rector. 

I am particularly grateful for two gifts of this committee’s work. First is the gift of discernment. This way of sifting and sorting, of waiting and listening, of learning, sharing, wondering, hoping, praying, and trusting has led to decisions that feel grounded and faithful.

 

The second gift is one from this committee to each of you. Each time we meet, we remember our commitment to serving the community—to hearing your voices. You have trusted us to share St. Aidan’s story with the wider world, offering candidates a picture of the life we share in community here. It is in hearing from you that we will be able to do this well. All of our stories come together to make up the story of St. Aidan’s.

We’ll be in touch along the way and will always be glad to hear from all of you.

 

Peace and blessings,

Lisa Richard, Chair

St. Aidan's Discernment Committee

_________________________________________________

December 10, 2020

 

This week Rev. Rosemary, Bonnie Brynczak (Junior Warden) and I met with Lisa Richard to discuss the progress of the Discernment Committee. We plan to meet regularly, once every couple of weeks. We are in good hands with such a thoughtful and careful group of people serving on the Discernment Committee. The vestry is staying apprised of their progress and supporting their efforts.  

Elizabeth Drembus

Senior Warden

_______________________________________________

November 27, 2020

Dear Parish Friends,

I am writing on behalf of the Discernment Committee to let you know that we have met with the Rev. Sarah Brockenbrough, Transition Minister for the Diocese and our work has begun. Though the journey toward a new rector may feel slow at times, Sarah reassures us that we were especially fortunate to have Rosemary come our way so quickly when John retired in June, and we are exactly where we need to be.

The discernment committee’s first big task is to organize a self-study that will allow us to look together at who

we are as a church community and what is important to us in calling a new rector. Stay tuned for news of how

you all will be invited to engage in the self-study process.

I am excited about what lies ahead. When the discernment committee gathers, what I hear from the group is

that our sleeves are rolled up and we are eager to do this work well. We have faith that God is with us and we

are committed to listening—to the congregation, to one another, and to the Spirit present and active in all that

we will do.

The discernment process is intentionally grounded in ongoing prayer. We ask your prayers for the committee,

for the vestry as they support the committee’s work, and for Rosemary, our much-appreciated companion and guide as we walk together this new stretch of the road.

Peace and blessings.

Lisa Richard, Chair

St. Aidan's Discernment Committee

__________________________________________

 

October 11, 2020

St. Aidan’s in Transition

Next Steps:  Discernment Committee

 

Dear St. Aidan’s Family,

 On behalf of the vestry, I am excited to announce that a Discernment Committee has been formed. This was the next important task for the transition process. With instructions from our transition minister, Sarah, and guidance from Rosemary, the vestry met and prayed, and the following people answered the invitation to serve on the Discernment Committee:

 

Darlene Ash

Pris Bornmann

Viju Dilley

Mary Jane Guffey

Lisa Richard

Kevin Saunders

Kathy Seikel

Barbara Cotter, alternate

 

In the past, this committee would have been known as a Search Committee. So why is it called a Discernment Committee and not a Search Committee? The process of discernment is a prayerful and intentional attempt to sort out and distinguish God’s Spirit at work in a situation and to develop a sense of the direction in which the Spirit is leading. It is an act of spiritual formation and one that we practice faithfully. The Committee will discern where the parish has been, where it is today, and where God is calling St. Aidan’s to be in the future. 

 

The Committee will work in close communication with Sarah, Rosemary and the vestry. There will be a lot of opportunity for input from the congregation. Over the course of the next 12-14 months, the Committee will publish a vestry-approved and Bishop-approved Community Ministry Portfolio, which will provide an overview of St. Aidan’s and our vision. The Discernment Committee will guide us to improve our website for the benefit of potential rector candidates and potential parishioners. The Discernment Committee will receive names and will select a finalist after the Diocese’s office of transition ministry vets the candidates. 

 

We are thankful for the time and effort that Darlene, Pris, Viju, Mary Jane, Lisa, Kevin, Kathy, and Barbara are willing to dedicate to St. Aidan’s and to this important task. We will commission the Discernment Committee at a worship service in the next few weeks. Let us hold them and keep them in our prayers as they begin their work. As Rosemary reminded the vestry, the Holy Spirit formed this committee. We are excited to see what happens next!

 

Peace and blessings on our Parish Family,

 

Elizabeth Drembus and the St. Aidan’s vestry

 

________________________________________

 

 

August 18, 2020

St. Aidan’s in Transition

 

Tues night, the vestry held our second meeting with Sarah Brockenbrough, our transition minister from the Diocese of Richmond. She walked us through the process to form the Discernment Committee. What is the role of the Discernment Committee? According to the Diocesan website:

  • The committee studies the parish, with input from the congregation.

  • The committee publishes a vestry- and Bishop-approved Community Ministry Portfolio, which provides an overview of the church and its vision.

  • The committee guides the church to improve its website, which will include relevant and up-to-date information on the church and the search process, for the benefit of both potential candidates and potential parishioners.

  • The committee receives names and selects a finalist after the office of transition ministry vets the candidates. 

  • The vestry affirms the committee’s recommendation, and a call is issued.

This process, undertaken with prayerful deliberation, may take 12 months or more. Please continue to keep the vestry and our parish in your prayers as we enter the next steps in the transition process. 

 

Peace and Blessings on our Parish Family,

Elizabeth 

 

 

________________________________________

 

 

July 1, 2020

St. Aidan’s in Transition

 

From your Vestry

Announcement - Interim Rector for St. Aidan's

 

The vestry is excited to announce that Bishop Goff has appointed The Rev Rosemary Beales as interim rector during St. Aidan's transition. The vestry was introduced to Rosemary in April, and we were able to be in conversation and discern with her before the appointment was made. During our conversation, it became apparent that Rosemary would be an excellent match for us because she was familiar with St. Aidan's and has an appreciation for who we are as a parish. Rosemary shared that she enjoyed our Celtic Service, had positive things to say about our grounds and outdoor Labyrinth, and she has a strong attraction to contemplative practice as well as a wealth of knowledge of Godly Play training and working with youth. Her name may be familiar to some of you. She very ably led all three of our worship services last year on Pentecost Sunday.

 

In her role as interim rector, as outlined in the agreement with our parish, she will perform functions normally undertaken by a rector. Working with the vestry and other lay leaders, Rosemary will assist in the management and direction of the transition period during her time with us at St. Aidan's. In addition, she will share in the management of the church office and will provide general direction to the staff. We are so pleased that she will be able to begin her work with us today, Wednesday, July 1st. In the coming days she will meet with the staff. We have invited her to join us at evening worship services. And we are excited that she will be celebrating morning worship on Sunday, July 5th. Please join the vestry in extending a very warm St. Aidan's welcome to The Rev Rosemary Beales. We look forward to having her be our guide and our friend alongside us in this journey. 

St Aidan's Vestry

 

 

The Rev Dr. Rosemary Beales

Dear St. Aidan’s family,

 

When I first met with Elizabeth Drembus about the possibility of serving as your interim rector, I think the first question I asked her was, “What is the story of St. Aidan’s?” Story has been essential to my understanding of the Christian life. It is how we form community, how we come to know God and one another, and how we encounter the world around us. 

 

Of course, the stories I heard from Elizabeth and other vestry members can only be partial. Each of you has your own story ⎯ not only of how you came to join the St. Aidan’s story, but of how you grew up, why you chose your occupation or course of study, who you share your lives with, what you do in your daily routine, and, of course, how you have known and been known by God. I long to hear each of your stories, and in the months ahead, we’ll find a way to make that happen.

 

I wish ⎯ as I know you do ⎯ that we were meeting around God’s table, sharing the feast that Jesus gives us and singing our hearts out, and then gathering around ordinary tables for coffee hour or heartfelt conversation. But coronavirus and Covid-19 are part of our story in this strange season, and together (at a distance, for now) we will discover the unique graces of this time. We know about the burdens, but I am sure the blessings will be revealed, because our God can always bring good out of evil and bounty out of bane. That’s the constant theme of scripture and the heart of the life-giving story of Jesus and God’s love.

 

Story became the theme of my life when, in 1996, I sat on the floor of a church hall and watched the Rev. Dr. Jerome Berryman raise a wooden ark over his head in a gesture that struck me as both baptismal and Eucharistic. In that instant, and the wondering that followed, I knew that the stories I had heard all my life belonged to me, and I belonged to them. Godly Play ⎯ a way of knowing God designed for the youngest among us ⎯ brought me to my most mature understanding of my faith, and I have spent the years since then going deeper into the stories and what they mean for this troubled world. From Sunday School volunteer, to seminary and ordination, to work at a parish in Ellicott City, Md., and finally to the past 12 years as chaplain and pastor to 400 children, I have understood my vocation as sharing the story of God’s saving love, in community, through word, action, sacrament, and presence. 

 

On a personal note, I am a mother of 3 adult children (a son and twin daughters), grandmother to 7 exceptionally cute children, companion to a polydactyl cat called Chloe, patio gardener, fan of British TV mysteries, avid baker but not much of a cook, enthusiastic but not especially gifted singer, former journalist of 25 years’ experience, and at-home Jazzercise dancer (only at home, I promise).

 

The path that joins my story to yours has been circuitous, but like the path of the labyrinth, continues to lead to the center. We are called to journey together for a time and to merge our stories as you discern where God is calling St. Aidan’s in the years ahead, and whom God is preparing, even now, to become your next rector. Along the way, like pilgrims on any path, we’ll get to know each other as we “walk in love,” worship, seek justice, love God through loving our neighbor, and create a new story for St. Aidan’s and the world.

 

The Rev Dr. Rosemary Beales

 

 ________________________________________

 

 Dear St. Aidan’s Community,

 

It was with a heavy heart that I received the news that John is retiring. For many of us, John Baker has been the only rector we have known at St. Aidan’s, and that goes for me as well. And while his departing will be sad for me personally, we have the opportunity to celebrate joyously all of the gifts he has given us. 

 

For more than 20 years, John has offered unwavering pastoral care through our life cycles of weddings, new births, baptisms, deaths and everything in between. He has been an astute guide and mentor along our spiritual journeys helping us (and prodding us) to ask the questions that fill our thoughts and hearts, letting us know it is okay to ask those questions. Through his teaching and his preaching, with car repair metaphors, stories about growing up in Memphis, reflections on art and spiritual wisdom, he has helped us see the wonder and joy that can be found when we come together in community. He has helped us to welcome new people through our doors and encouraged the formation of our leaders. He has guided our parish through building and financial challenges, through trials in our nation and in the world. He has laughed, cried, and held us in his prayers. We are all the stronger for it. 

 

Between now and April 26th, we will love each other and celebrate our time together as we prepare to say good-bye and for the road that lies ahead. We are deeply sorry to see to John go, and we are grateful for all that he has given us. We rejoice for John and Mary and we will wish them heartfelt good wishes in this next exciting stage of their journey.   

 

Then we will enter into a time of transition with the help of the Diocesan Office of Transition Ministry. Bonnie Brynczak (Junior Warden) and I have already been in contact with our diocesan representative, Sarah Brockenbrough, who has been assigned to St. Aidan’s. Sarah will guide our parish over the course of the next year and will be with us each step of the way. Already she has been supportive, reassuring and encouraging as she shares what the next steps will be like. She has assured us that she will “stick close to us throughout the process no matter what.”  

 

As the parish enters this “in between time” we will do so prayerfully, in contemplation with discerning hearts and minds.  With Sarah’s guidance we will take time to reflect on answering these questions:

  • Who have we been?

  • Who are we now?

  • Who is God calling us to be?

 

Certainly, there may be anxiety about what the coming months may look like. This is new to most of us, and we are going to be okay. Approached faithfully, there may also be great discovery and growth. Together we will do the still slow work God is calling us to enter into.  

 

Peace and blessings on our Parish Family,

Elizabeth Drembus

Senior Warden

 
ADDRESS

703-360-4220

8531 Riverside Rd.

Alexandria, Virginia, 22308

staidansalexandria@gmail.com

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