During my time at St. Mary’s…
by Fr. Scott
As June 10, my last Sunday at St. Mary’s, comes closer, I find myself reflecting with joy and gratitude on all that, with God’s grace, has taken place on this corner of highways 18 & 67 during the years that I’ve been blessed to be your parish priest. I find myself praying with the Parish Directory, for each of you who I have come to know and love. I will continue to do that after I leave, as well. You all have a very sacred place in my heart. The good Lord and you as a community have entrusted me with the joyful (yes, joyful!) task of being the shepherd at St. Mary’s for nearly 15 years. I want to thank you for that. It was here that I learned how to be a priest in the Episcopal Church. It is quite similar to my former training in Roman Catholicism, but with some key differences. I have learned much from all of you, and I am grateful. Following are some of the key changes and developments that we as a parish can celebrate. I offer them in no particular order, and with the awareness that my list may not be complete; please forgive any omissions! Please note that not every ministry is listed because some were in place before my arrival. All of them, over the time we’ve been together, have grown and flourished in many ways. We have also let go of some ministries as we’ve continued to pray for God’s will for us.
This is an amazing community of faith and I am so blessed and grateful to have served here. Thank you and God bless you!
We had one Sunday service during my first year, and then we went to two. For about 18 months, we had three weekend masses – one on Saturday and two on Sunday morning. For two summers, we went from two to one service on Sunday morning. I’ve had two sabbaticals. As far as I can tell we’ve celebrated Eucharist on the Lord’s Day together right around 1,400 times. We have gone through 15 Holy Weeks together and 14 Christmases.
We have celebrated 70 baptisms together.
Together we have celebrated 80 funerals for both members of the parish and for those whose families came to us asking for assistance in laying their loved one to rest.
We celebrated 41 weddings during my time here, and by September that number will be 45.
We’ve been blessed by the ministry of two Deacons, Chuck Zellermayer (since December of 2007) and Esther Kramer (since Fall of 2016, formally).
We have been served by three Administrative Assistants during my time here: Ginny Lyons, Annette Godwin and Lynn Kallas. Lynn has been serving in this role since October of 2014. Under Lynn, we’ve seen growth and expansion of the Administrative Assistant’s job from 18 hours per week to up to 24 or more per week.
We have provided Field Education opportunities to one Deacon Candidate, 13 Seminarians, and one priest who was transitioning from the Roman Catholic Church to the Episcopal Church.
We have created a Music Director position. When I arrived, Vicki Swanson played for a weekly stipend. When we created the new position the first to serve was Matt Lawrenz. We’ve been served in this role by Carrie Arndorfer since September of 2008.
We have a Pastoral Associate who has been with us just over one year. Tammy Prather works with Formation Ministries, raising up lay leaders, and helps with a variety of areas of parish life. This is a ten hour per week position for ten months of the year.
We have had a paid Nursery Supervisor for the past ten years.
Membership/Stewardship has gone from around 45 (there weren’t exact records but after I went through the Directory that seemed about right) to 292 individuals (137 households) today. Over 50% of our members are involved in a parish ministry, meaning one of the ministry teams in the parish and/or a Sunday morning ministry. Annual financial pledges have gone from $63,000.00 per year to $243.800.00 per year.
Creation of Ministries
The following ministries began during the last 14 ½ years:
- Children’s Liturgy of the Word and Family Sunday School
- Youth Group (re-invigorated after being dormant)
- Parish Ministry Discernment Committee (worked with six candidates)
- Used Book Sale and a handful of silent auctions
- Fall Fest and connection with Dousman Fire Department
- Connection with Lad Lake
- Stewardship (thanks to this ministry, I saw the light!)
- Staffed Nursery and focused outreach to young families
- All ministries/committees/groups related to the Building Project and Capital Campaign
- Buildings and Grounds Committee
- Community Life Team
- Newsletter (re-invigorated), website and public Face Book page
- Prayer Shawl ministry
- Care of the River and Prairie areas
- Youth Mission trips (5) and a Boundary Waters trip
- Men’s Ministry (on and off again)
- Centering/Contemplative Prayer
- Women’s Mornings of Reflection
- Breaking Open the Word, Table Talk, Episcopal 101
- Living Compass Groups
- Wednesday morning book discussion during Advent & Lent
- Six parishioners have completed diocesan CDI (Congregational Development Institute) training and two have completed facilitator training for Living Compass
Ministry connected to care of our physical plant and parish grounds
- Removal of chimney on chapel
- Addition of large sign on the corner of 18 & 67
- Bell Tower/Chapel tuck-pointing (twice)
- Building of a new church!
- Parish hall: new appliances, toilets, water heater
- Construction of shed
- Creation of outdoor worship area
- Restoration of river/prairies
- Interior painting in hall, chapel
- Renovation of chapel for Scripture study, meetings and education
- Coating and striping of parking lot
Yes, there is a great deal to celebrate and for which to give thanks. At the root of it all, however, is what is most real and important, our faith in Christ and the ways we have grown together as His body here on this corner and from here out to wherever our lives may take us. Those many ministries, projects, programs and all the ways we have accommodated growth point to the grace and love of God in our midst. It has been my singular blessing and grace and amazing gift to serve as your parish priest. Thank you and God bless you!
- Fr. Scott