Who We Are, What We Have, and What We Need
A reflection by The Rev. Doyt L. Conn, Jr.
(written before Doyt left on sabbatical)
Note: You may have heard this week that Nicki Grover is no longer working at Epiphany. We wish her the best as she moves on. Doyt was part of this decision and wrote about it before he left. Read on below. —Emily
I had the opportunity to get together with Margie Kates and Terry Carlisle before I left on sabbatical to reminisce about how I came to be at Epiphany. Margie and Terry were the two selected from the search committee to come visit me in Beverly Hills. I remember the weekend well. They made a great first impression and one that represented the parish well. I give thanks to God for their efforts on my behalf.
What I have found so wonderful, and in many ways unique, about Epiphany is that what you represented wanting in the parish profile, you indeed wanted and, more than that, have helped to bring about. I know that may sound weird. Of course you wanted what you said you wanted—but actually, it is very often the case that a rector is called to lead one way, and the parish doesn’t actually want what it asked for.
Mostly the issue is around growth. Almost every parish profile I have ever read says that growth is desired. Usually it is because people are tired. Usually growth is desired because there is an underlying belief that growth will mean someone else will show up to do the work and add money to the coffers. And yet, growth also means that relationships change. Margie told me how, during the search process, the Bishop met with the search committee and the Vestry. As he reviewed the parish profile he challenged them on their desire to grow the church. At the time the average Sunday attendance was falling, not climbing. And he pointed out that a growing church had a very different relationship with the rector than a small, neighborhood parish did. They remained firm in the desire.
Now, you might ask, why? Why would a comfortable little parish, in a comfortable corner of Seattle have a desire to grow? When I visited Epiphany, I saw four things. First and foremost, I saw a deep and authentic sense of Jesus. This was a congregation that had seen the power of the Holy Spirit work in their midst in beautiful and tangible ways. When Epiphany was built, it was the center of the community. In the 1950s, this center incorporated a school. And in the 1980s, it stepped into the renaissance of the Cursillo movement. Community, education, service & outreach, and evangelism are all Spirit-driven parts of the Epiphany story, and they were alive (and still are) in the hearts of the people I met in the calling process. Growth for them wasn’t about coffers and silver, it was (and still is) about the Good News of Jesus.
Second, I noticed the deep relationships that were alive at Epiphany. Somewhere along the way, Epiphany came to understand that in the Kingdom of God relationship is primary. They came to see that it is about friendships through thick and thin, and that these spiritual friendships didn’t need to be mediated through a priest.
Which led to my third observation during the calling process: because the parishioners were not looking for a “buddy priest,” the priestly duties would be focused on preaching, teaching, worship, and invitation. This is what I had seen work at Beverly Hills, and this is what the Epiphany Parish profile indicated they were looking for. There was (and is) a hunger for learning at Epiphany and a desire to dive deeply into spiritual knowledge and practices.
Finally, at Epiphany I found a community that was grateful for what previous generations had passed down to them, and a desire to do this in equal fashion for the next generation. There was a sense of continuity, and an understanding that Epiphany was not a club to go to, but a place to pass on.
If you wrap up these four characteristics of Epiphany, you will see the Epiphany we have today. Now here is the issue: just because Epiphany is growing into herself, and as a result growing in size, it doesn’t mean she loses her welcoming flavor and evangelical fervor. Sadly, that often happens to large parishes. They begin to rely on “paid staff” to set the tone and solve the problems and do the work. I have seen this happen before, and when this happens something beautiful becomes a bit tarnished. I believe that we can be big and warm, gracious, hospitable and charming. So with the support of the vestry, the staff, and my leadership, we have decided to make a change in the organizational structure to achieve this end.
As a result of this organizational change, Nicki Grover’s job has been eliminated, and she has now moved on. I really like Nicki and wish her all the best in her new endeavors. Nicki’s job consisted of two major parts: hospitality and information management.
Regarding hospitality. We are turning the front desk at Christie House into a hospitality hub. Staff members and volunteer parishioners on ten half-day rotations will staff it. The front desk hospitality role can be more than answering the phone; daily and seasonal assignments will be available based on the rhythms of the parish. The person sitting at the front desk is the face of Epiphany to whoever walks in the door, and sets the tone for who we are and how we welcome people to the parish. As Laura Sargent recently put it, Christie House and the parish office is the front door of our church Monday through Friday. This ministry means interacting with parishioners, our neighbors, and community campus partners in a knowledgeable way and involves helping to support the internal staff and weekday and monthly events on campus like the Rector’s Happy Hour. It will be a true ministry and a critical component for continuing as a warm, welcoming church that is also growing. Emily Linderman and Diane Carlisle are ordering and organizing this ministry, and will need your help. If you are interested in this ministry please let Emily know.
Regarding information management, these tasks are being shared and distributed among our current staff members. We are not hiring a new administrative assistant at this time.
And so, when I return from sabbatical, I really look forward to seeing some of you at Christie House. In the Kingdom of God, there is the capacity to be welcoming, intimate, inviting, inspiring, and growing without ever compromising authenticity, relationship, or a deep desire to know and serve Christ. This was the promise I heard about when I first met Margie and Terry. It was the promise I encountered when I first visited Epiphany. And it is a reality that continues to grow at this marvelous church. I love Epiphany and look forward to seeing you in August. Indeed, our most exciting days are ahead of us.
What Happened to +TEC?
Some of you have been wondering aloud, and perhaps to yourselves silently, what happened to Teaching the Essence of Christianity (+TEC)? Or maybe you’ve just been missing the Sunday forum presentations. Rest assured the Sunday Adult Formation hour and the +TEC forums are just on hiatus.
We went on hiatus a little earlier than previous years due to construction activities and resulting forum locations. We discovered that the church just wasn’t a good location for adult education with coffee hour going on in the narthex and folks trying to clean up from the morning service so we moved the remaining sessions to the Christie House Library and the last scheduled forum of our programming year was Holly Boone and Ann Lockhart’s exciting presentation on the Pilgrimage-in-Place. Their team, which now includes Eileen Riley, has a lot of fun things planned for us this summer! Their PowerPoint presentation is available through the link above.
We’ll be having some one-off Sunday forum presentations this summer including a visit from one of Doyt’s close friends, The Rev. Joseph Constant. He’ll be preaching on June 28 and presenting on the Haiti Micah project. You can read more about him and the Haiti Micah project here.
Other opportunities include the Interior Pilgrimage in Community, led by Diana Bender, beginning on April 26 (see below) and the Pilgrimage-in-Place events that are in the process of being scheduled.
Stay tuned for more information as plans for fall formation opportunities are developed, keeping in mind our campus will still be under renovation.
Please let me know if you have any ideas or questions about Adult Education and Formation at Epiphany. I’d love to hear from you.
—Emily Linderman, Associate for Staff and Ministry Formation
Join Your Kids for Chapel on April 26
Parent Sunday is next Sunday, April 26 at 9:30 am in the Chapel. This is an opportunity for parents who haven’t been involved in Children’s Chapel this year to see what the kids have been up to during the morning service. The kids will be leading the prayers and reading the scriptures; parents have only to sit, participate, and enjoy, just like the regular church service.
Children’s Chapel will end for the summer on Trinity Sunday, May 31. If you would like to come visit on another weekend, just let us know.
—Elizabeth Walker, email@example.com
Take a Place at the Table!
Epiphany’s Meal Ministry Needs Volunteers
“Love people. Cook them tasty food.” That’s what it says on a bumper sticker given out by Penzey’s Spices on Pine Street. I’ve always loved that simple directive for what it says about cooking for others: it’s a simple but profound way to offer love to someone else.
Caring for our fellow parishioners in a time of need is one of the most important actions we can take, and providing a meal to someone whose thoughts are elsewhere is a comforting and vital gift. As coordinator of the Meal Ministry at Epiphany, I invite you to join me on a roster of home cooks who can be occasionally called upon to provide a meal for someone in the parish.
While it’s hard to predict with certainty, I’m asked to coordinate meals an average of two times a month. This means I reach out to a family to find out if they have any allergies or other restrictions and arrange a mutually convenient time for delivery. Then I make contact with a volunteer. My goal is to find 8–10 home cooks to make up a rotating roster of providers so that each one is called upon just two to three times during the year. Meals might include soup, bread, and salad, or a simple chicken entrée with potatoes, vegetables, and rolls. Store-bought cookies to round things out are always a hit too. In short, nothing needs to be complicated or even homemade: warm and well rounded are the only criteria.
Let’s cook some tasty food! To add your name to the roster, send an email with your contact information and/or any questions you might have.
Save the Date for the Annual Parish Camping Trip
Saturday, August 1 (around 2 pm)–Sunday, August 2 (the weekend of the Blue Angels show in Seattle)
Join us at Belfair State Park on the Hood Canal for a weekend of camping, kite-flying, beach exploration, and other fun-filled activities. Enjoy a communal dinner on Saturday evening and a pancake breakfast and prayer service on Sunday. If you’d like to come, email Mark Rossow to reserve your spot ideally by May 1. We always have a great time together!
An Update from the Building Team
Since the construction schedule update we announced last week, we have put together an infographic for where and when we will be worshipping until construction is completed. Please note that the Chapel will not be closed until the Parish Hall is completed.
The Next 100 Years Building Team
Ed Emerson, Laura Blackmore, Bob Barnes, Jim Marlow, Ben Bradstreet
Contact the Building Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parish Prayer List
Sunday Lectionary Corner
April 19, 2015
Third Sunday of Easter
1 John 3:1–7
Upcoming Events in the Life of Epiphany
This Week at Epiphany
April 21: Companions in Caregiving
If you are a caregiver for a friend or loved one, you are invited to explore current caregiving issues in a supportive environment with others. Join us at 6:30 pm in the Christie House Library for lively, thoughtful, and supportive discussions on caregiving and the resources available to guide and inform the process. Contact Kathryn Barrett, our Parish Nurse, for more information.
April 23: Animate Your Faith Series
If you weren’t able to participate in the Animate series during Lent, we’re offering it one more time after Easter, to be facilitated by Emily Linderman. Join us on Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm for a discussion of some of the biggest questions of faith. If you missed the first class on the 16th, come anyway! It’s $20 for the journal. Click here for more information.
Events Down the Road
April 26: An Interior Pilgrimage in Community
Over the course of six weeks, Diana Bender will lead a group in exploring different experiential approaches to prayer and methods for engaging faith in the midst of a variety of life change, large and small. Read more about it here. Contact Diana at email@example.com to sign up.
May 4: Jana Riess Speaks at Epiphany
Jana Riess, the author of Flunking Sainthood, is coming to Seattle on a book tour and will be stopping at Epiphany. Stay tuned for more details!
May 15–17: Living with Purpose – Epiphany’s Annual Women’s Retreat
You are invited to join other women of Epiphany for a weekend to talk about what it means to engage our senses along the spiritual journey-whether that means paying attention, getting lost, encountering others, saying no, feeling pain, being present, or pronouncing blessing. We hope you can join us. Registration is now open. Cost is $225 and scholarships are available. Click here for more info.
Throughout the rest of spring and summer, the parish is invited to participate in community activities and spiritual practices that will serve as a counterpart to Doyt’s pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago. As the are planned Pilgrimage-in-Place events will be posted here.
April 18: Cathedral Day at St. Mark’s
Join us for a day of fun for all ages at your Cathedral. All are invited to gather together in community for fellowship and fun, learning and liturgy and a chance to reach across the Diocese and meet fellow members. Tickets are only $5 with a BBQ lunch included, as well as an opportunity to dunk the Bishop! Click here to register.
May 6: Walls Lecture at SPU – Experience and the Knowledge of God
Communities in the Wesleyan tradition have tended to follow John Wesley in valuing both the head and the heart, yet many believers sense a tension between them. This lecture given by Dr. Douglas Koskela, Associate Professor of Theology, will explore the place of spiritual perception in Wesley’s understanding of how one comes to embrace the Christian faith. Click here for more information.
May 7: Racial Justice Lecture at SU – Why #BlackLivesMatter Should Matter for Everyone
Chris Crass writes and speaks widely on anti-racist organizing, feminism for men, strategies to build visionary movements, and creating healthy culture and leadership for progressive activism. Click here to for more information. Click here to for more information.
May 30: Baseball with the Bishop
Join Bishop Rickel and your fellow Episcopalians for a night of baseball and family fun at Cheney Stadium and to watch the Tacoma Rainiers beat the Round Rock Express. Enjoy a pregame buffet in the Backyard BBQ pavilion, located at the end of the first base concourse, at 4 pm. The game starts at 5:05 pm. Tickets are $25.50 and available here.