St. Barnabas Episcopal Church

To bring people together in Jesus Christ

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A New Year’s Message from Mother Sheelagh

Happy New Year St Barnabas!

This year promises to be an exciting year for you all.  One that this parish has not experienced in some 25 years as you prepare to call for candidates, interview and then before too long, install your new Rector.

Thoughts like this serve to remind me that my time with you is coming to an end and that before too long I will be emptying my filing cabinets, preparing transition notes for your new rector and  beginning the process of leave taking. Scary as it can be, transition is part of a life cycle. There is always a wide range of emotions involved.  Feelings of loss, betrayal, confusion at Fr. Hubbard’s leaving; anxiety as to what will happen and then some relief as stability returns.  And now I need to prepare you to undergo some of those feelings again.  When will I go?  In truth I don’t know exactly.  I have signed a contract until the end of January 2011, and then an option to renew on a month by month basis.  This is to give you flexibility and me the opportunity to see what is available out there, because it can take as long for me to find my next church as it does for you to find your new rector. But go I will and we need to accept that.

People ask me how I can do this every few years or so.  When I said “yes” to my call as a priest, the biblical passage that was meaningful for me was Jesus asking Peter – “feed my sheep, feed my lambs.” That mandate does not change to be “give my sheep a snack,” just because I am temporary, and so for me, ministry, even interim ministry, has been full on.  Which means it is hard when we have to part.  So we need to prepare well.  People ask me if I can be considered for the post or just stay, but the Canons and the Bishop are clear on this; no Interim or assistant can be considered for the position of rector, probably because we would have an advantage over any other candidate.  So we have to accept that I cannot stay and more pertinently because I believe my call is to “midwife” this church through the transition. 

Transition also means that exciting and good things will come. Our hearts always need to be open to the workings of God through the Holy Spirit in our lives; trust that part.  I believe that somewhere right now as you read this, your new rector, pastor, shepherd and leader is waiting to read about this church and congregation in your Profile. That wait is getting shorter.

So I want us to be intentional about enjoying every minute we have left together. To be excited, not sad, that this time is coming to an end.  This is good news, St Barnabas, and I am excited and filled with joy for you all.  This truly promises to be an exciting year for you and for me as we prepare, both of us, to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

I wish you all and your families and happy and healthy 2011.

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