off

SE Region Vestry Retreat

On February 8, forty members vestry members and clergy from eight of the parishes in the SE Region gathered at Incarnation Center in Ivoryton for a joint vestry retreat. Together, we explored the role and work of vestries in each of our parish, and then spent time in small groups wrestling with the question, “What can vestries do as a first step to identify and foster passion and excitement for God’s mission?

From those conversation, seven different areas emerged. Participants chose the topics they were interested in, and began fleshing out ways that we can engage with the work as individual parishes and collaboratively as parishes in the region. Below are the summaries collected from each of the seven groups, outlining the questions/challenges they face, the insights they gained from the conversation, and next steps that they want to take together.

Thank you to everyone who came out for this wonderful vestry retreat and we look forward to seeing where all this good work leads us!


How To Serve The Poor And Marginalized Of Our Region

Questions

  • What is everyone doing now?
  • How do we get in touch with or identify groups in need?
  • What does “marginalized” mean to you?
  • What kind of funding sources are available? (ex. Grants)
  • How can we organize around specific needs as a region?
  • How can we utilize resources outside our churches?
  • With whom should we partner?

Insights

  • Not so many meetings—just do it! Simply.
  • The bureaucracy
  • Start small with one project
    • Marginalized people with mental illness (Alice)
    • People with addictions, medical needs, migrants, anyone who is outside the power. On the outside, looking in
  • How can we go beyond supplying physical needs to supporting special needs people? – Move beyond the soup kitchen
  • Change the perception of people you serve
  • Funds needed for specialized ministries
  • Almost impossible to focus on one issue, because they interact.

Next Steps

  1. Find something that would feed us in the work that we are already doing—mutual support
  2. Email a narrative/list of what everyone is doing
  3. Meet up with other people doing food ministry/homeless shelters

Participants

  • Mary Elizabeth Lang (Christ Church, Norwich)
  • Chuck Sharp (St. James’, New London)
  • Sandra Bullock (St. Paul’s, Westbrook)
  • Ron Steed (Grace, Yantic & St. James’ Poquetanuck)
  • Kathleen Kronholm (St. Ann’s, Old Lyme)
  • Margaret Mummert (St. Ann’s, Old Lyme)
  • Lauren Dodington (St. Andrew’s, Madison)
  • Pat Anderson (St. David’s, Gales Ferry)
  • Diane Widger (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)

Fostering Music Community

Questions

  • Create a website, “Music that makes community”
  • Collaborative hosting of concerts
  • Mass for the homeless
  • Joint choirs, donate the proceeds/use for fundraising
  • Choir swap
  • Parishioners visiting each other’s churches
  • Introducing new types of music
  • How do we cultivate resources for other music?

Insights

  • Region-wide music worship
  • Choral camp for youth at Camp Washington or Incarnation Center
  • Faith-Based Music Theatre
  • “Music Moves Hartford” homeless making music with Cuatro Puntas and Kevin Bishop

Next Steps

  • Co-hosting an event – what is the financial commitment?
  • Get information to parishes
  • EVT 70%          SAP 30%
  • Other Churches – Reception
  • St. James’, Preston – EVT previously
  • Joint Choir Event

Participants

  • Chris Curcio (St. David’s, Gales Ferry)
  • Graham Lanz (St. James, New London)
  • Gray Sawyer (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Bill Faye (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Kate McKey-Dunar (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Ruth Vitale (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Jill Foster (St. David’s, Gales Ferry)
  • Laura Borg (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Alden Murphy (St. Ann’s, Old Lyme)

How Do We Share Mission?

Questions

  • Is there a single diocesan/region person who has knowledge of these missions?
  • Do we know all of the missions?
  • Can there be a section in the region newsletter that indicates “Mission in the SE Region”
  • How do parishes contact partners in overseas missions?
  • Are there region mission initiatives that we could focus on?
  • Can region newsletter include Dominican Republic youth mission trip opportunities?
  • How do we expand a parish mission relationship to be a region or diocesan mission?

Insights

  • Some of the missions include many who are not part of our region or parishes
  • Companion in Mission MN as a resource and opportunity for grant money
  • Diversity of initiatives in our region
  • Dominican Republic youth mission trip opportunities for youth 15-18 (Allen McCollan)

Next Steps

  • Corner in the Bridge newsletter that has international mission information
  • Participate in Habitat for Humanity building on Faith Week for the Westbrook build—communicate widely in the region
  • Create directory of missions in our region with contact information
  • Attend Companions in Mission Conference in March 2020

Participants

  • Anita Schell (St. Ann’s, Old Lyme)
  • Chuck Sharp (St. James’, New London)
  • Denny Tovey (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Tom Angers (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Glenn Brielmann (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Laura Borg (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Ruth Vitale (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Kathleen Kronholm (St. Ann’s, Old Lyme)
  • Mac Mummert (St. Ann’s, Old Lyme)
  • Judie Blackman Cochran (Grace, Yantic)
  • Mary Elizabeth Lang (Christ, Norwich)
  • Pat Anderson (St. David’s, Gales Ferry)
  • Linda Spiers (St. John’s, Essex)

How Do We Make Creation Care Effective?

Questions

  • Let people announce publicly in church and in community
  • Networks:
    • IREJN (CT Based)
    • Climate & Environment Ministry Network

Insights

  • Creation Care Committee
  • Solar Panels
  • Lighting
  • Energy efficient makeovers
  • Communicate!
  • Diocese has grants
  • Pollinator Pathway
  • Plant native plants
  • Rogation Days – Boundary walks to get us outside
  • Composting & gardening opportunities

Next Steps

  • Creation Care—get success stories in the SE Region Newsletter
  • Communicate with the parish and the wider community
  • Find out about Diocesan grants
  • Familiarize with ECCT and Interfaith networks
  • Pollinator pathways
  • Support community farms

Participants

  • Judy Benson (St. James’, New London)
  • Steve Foster (St. David’s, Gales Ferry)
  • Bill Faye (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Phil Piccola (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Alden Murphy (St. Ann’s, Old Lyme)
  • Shariya Molegoda (St. Andrew’s, Madison)
  • Louise Beecher (St. Andrew’s Madison)

Communication

Questions

  • How do we get the word out?
  • What types of information do we want to communicate?
  • What are the goals?
  • Facebook? Slack?

Insights

  • How do we get info out to all parishes
  • We may need multiple platforms to get information out.
  • Vestry collaboration session more frequents (quarterly?)

Next Steps

  • Set up a committee to set this up and who?
  • Figure out lines of communication, i.e. electronic and non-electronic
  • Work with Rachel to get this going
  • Pick a platform

Participants

  • Glenn Brielmann (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Kendall Knox (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Denny Tovey (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Tom Angers (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Judie Blackman Cochran (Grace, Yantic)
  • Linda Spiers (St. John’s, Essex)
  • Ken Nogacek (St. David’s, Gales Ferry)
  • Scott Stadnicki (St. David’s, Gales Ferry)

Environment/Creation Care in Worship, Education, & Property

Questions

  • Where to start?
  • Find articles?
  • How do you move from concern about saving money to a stewardship commitment?

Insights

  • We have an opportunity in churches, homes, and communities to be a leader
  • Statement to state legislature to make a goal for use of renewables
  • Aggregate information
  • Raise awareness for participation in programs in the SE Region
  • Have one parish (i.e. St. James) model and share in another congregation at a program or coffee hour
  • Region newsletter with tips, stories of what we have done, and statistics on impact

Next Steps

  • Show where to start by showing opportunities for savings in parishes
  • With Rachel Thomas, put out a needs list for things like conducting energy audits or reusable dishes for events like a fish fry
  • Publicly participate in a pollinator pathway
  • Group purchase oil, office paper products, and recyclable materials
  • Hold a SE Region meeting about sharing resources in our region and advice ECCT about best practices at the Commons or at Convention
  • Zero waste annual meeting at St. Andrew’s
  • Dana Sawyer to share data collection of electrical use assessment at St. Stephen’s with other parishes

Participants

  • Matt Valentine (St. Andrew’s, Madison)
  • Louise Beecher (St. Andrew’s, Madison)
  • Judy Benson (St. James’, New London)
  • Kim Litsey (St. James’, Poquetanuck & Grace, Yantic)
  • Linda Dierman (St. David’s, Gales Ferry)
  • Phil Piccola (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Steve Forbes (St. David’s, Gales Ferry)
  • Anita Schell (St. Ann’s, Old Lyme)

How Do We Bring Youth Together?

Questions

  • What are youth passionate about?
  • How can we support & facilitate connections with each other?
  • How are we defining youth?
  • What is the goal?
  • What can we do to support college age young adults to continue participation?
  • How may we honor the presence of youth in church?
  • What are we doing to make church welcoming to youth?

Insights

  • What are the groups? Elementary, Middle School, High School?
  • What can the region do?
  • Who else works with specific ages/groups
  • What programs are being used and what is their effectiveness
  • Support the youth as they grow into adulthood
  • Incorporate religion into events that we may plan
  • Prepare to answer questions they may have or being able to say “I don’t know”
  • What do we do to make relevant
  • Opportunity to have youth engage, perhaps with a retreat, etc.
  • What is available in our local region
  • Social media options, where are our youth?

Next Steps

  • Form a group in the SE Region
  • Explore what works and what does not for high school/middle school/elementary
  • Confirmation group as a region
  • Coordinate events with the region

Participants

  • Graham Lane (St. James’, New London)
  • Gray Sawyer (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Chris Curcio (St. David’s, Gales Ferry)
  • Lauren Dodington (St. Andrew’s, Madison)
  • Matt Valentine (St. Andrew’s, Madison)
  • Jill Foster (St. David’s, Gales Ferry)
  • John Umland (St. James’, New London)
  • Kim Litsey (St. James’, Poquetanuck, Grace, Yantic)
  • Diane Widger (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Linda Dierman (St. David’s, Gales Ferry)
  • Kate McKey-Dunar (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Kendall Knox (St. Stephen’s, East Haddam)
  • Ken Nogacek (St. David’s, Gales Ferry)