As I reflect on my first six months as Curate at St. James, it is hard not to think about where I was this time last year. I had completed my last Seminarian’s Retreat but had not started my last semester of classes yet. I was still in the process of interviewing with churches. Father Stephen and I had recently had our first Zoom conversation. As many of you have heard me say before, I am incredibly thankful that I found a home here at St. James. I am thankful to Father Stephen and to the Vestry for calling me to be your Curate. From the Sunday I was first introduced up until the present, I have felt nothing but welcomed into this wonderful community. St. James is an amazing place, and I am thrilled to be sharing in ministry with you all.
It has been a whirlwind first six months, with my ordination to the Diaconate at Trinity Cathedral occurring a few weeks before I started in July and my ordination to the priesthood here at St. James occurring a little over a month ago. It has been challenging to balance overseeing the Children’s and Youth Ministry with the responsibilities that also come with being ordained clergy. I imagine it has also been an adjustment for some of you all as well. At the same time, I have felt nothing but love and support as we have made this transition together. I am grateful for the volunteers who have stepped up when I needed to focus on doing clergy things.
Children’s Christian Education
After discussion with parents and those who had volunteered in the past, Father Stephen and I made the decision to have Sunday School in person only on the first Sunday of the month and offer remote materials through Realm the other Sundays of the month for the Fall. In addition to in-person Sunday School on the first Sunday of the month, we also made the sermon at the 10:30 service a Children’s Sermon. Having Sunday School in-person only on the first Sunday of the month enabled our families to feel comfortable and allowed us to use fewer volunteers, respecting those who were not ready to jump back in yet. We added a couple of new volunteers as well.
Towards the end of the fall, I again asked our parents and volunteers what their comfort level was with adding additional Sundays. In the end after these discussions and talking with Father Stephen, we decided to add an additional Sunday, and to move to the 2nd and 4th Sundays. We will continue to have a dedicated Children’s Sermon at the 10:30 service on the 2nd Sunday of the month. We will also continue to offer remote materials through Realm on the other Sundays of the month.
The curriculum we are using is a Lectionary-based curriculum, which focuses on one of the scripture lessons for that day. We also talk about the church seasons, colors, and themes as part of the curriculum. My hope is that the lesson we talk about in Sunday School will be familiar when they hear it read in church and there could possibly be some family discussion around the dinner table or as families are saying prayers together.
In addition to our Annual Intergenerational Advent Wreath Workshop, which we moved to the Foyer this year, we will have an Intergenerational Sunday School on February 13th focused on Bishops.
Episcopal Youth Community (EYC)
After discussion with Father Stephen, we decided to keep the focus this fall on fun and fellowship so we could begin to re-build our youth community. We began with a Welcome Back Outing to Spare Time. We continued to have one off-campus outing each month and the rest of the Sundays we met in the Parish Life Center. My focus during the fall was to hold that space on Sunday afternoon, no matter how many or how few of our youth attended. The youth that have been attending are amazing but are also involved in other activities. As busy as our youth are, it is a challenge to find a good time for everyone to meet. As a result, during Winter and Spring, we are going to try meeting right after the 10:30 service, unless we have something specific planned for a different time. We also decided to make the shift to 2nd and 4th Sundays with the hopes of having more youth participate. We will continue to have an off-campus outing once a month. We participated in an area wide EYC Outing in the fall and hope that we will have one in the Spring as well.
Canterbury (College Ministry at Furman)
Canterbury Club is the name of the Episcopal College Ministry. St. James is the Episcopal Church that is tied to the Canterbury Club at Furman. Father Stephen and I are both Campus Ministers for Canterbury Club. We started the schoolyear meeting on Monday evenings, but quickly shifted to Thursday evenings. A Furman student (Peer Minister) is responsible for planning and organizing Canterbury meetings. Father Stephen and I are there to support the Peer Minister and be a sacramental presence for the group. Many of the students who were involved in Canterbury prior to the pandemic have now graduated and it has been a challenge to get the new students engaged.