Leadership in Ministry
In the spring of 1988 while I was serving as curate at Saint Luke's Church, Baton Rouge, the rector and I went to a conference of the National Association of Episcopal Schools which was being held in New Orleans. I confess I went looking forward mostly to eating several good meals in some of our country's most interesting restaurants.
It happened that the late Edwin Friedman, a rabbi, counselor, student and theorist on leadership and family life, was the keynote speaker. Ed Friedman had survived (barely) life as a congregational rabbi. Little did he know that his great work would be in helping members of the clergy be effective parish ministers. Ed moved on to work in government. If I recall correctly, in the 1970s began to prepare for a career as a pastoral counselor. He ended up as a student of Murray Bowen, a psychiatrist who at the time ran the Georgetown University Family Center.
Dr. Bowen was trained as a surgeon but returned from World War II to do a psychiatric residency. In the 1950s he was one of a group of medical specialists in different places who were doing research on schizophrenia by hospitalizing nuclear families. This led Dr. Bowen to become a theorist about the transmission of emotional process in families. Ed Friedman saw the implications for congregational life.
At the seminar in New Orleans Ed wondered aloud about why children could be problems in every grade no matter who the teacher was. He also asked the teachers if they had ever been surprised by the character of the parent after meeting the child or vice versa. With a knack for telling stories he had the teachers in the palm of his hand. Ed was also an extremely funny guy.
During the course of his presentation he mentioned his principal work with clergy, mostly, it turned out, with Episcopalians. Father Jenkins and I both bought his book, Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue. It remains a standard in seminary today I am told. It is a book I have read many times.
Later in 1988 I was at a family Thanksgiving gathering in Maryland. After dinner I ended up taking a walk with my uncle, Lawrence Matthews, a Baptist minister. I mentioned the meeting in New Orleans. It turned out Larry had been working with Ed for a number of years and was a member of his staff. In fact he was the only member of Ed's staff who was a member of the clergy.
A year later I started going to Ed's workshops which he held in a house in Bethesda, Maryland. I attended those until Ed's death a few years ago. Larry had already started a similar program. "Leadership in Ministry," attended mostly by Baptist ministers. After Ed's death I transferred to Larry's program for lots of reasons. The program in Bethesda still continues but the persons in charge of it now are no longer members of the clergy. They of course bring their own helpful perspective as counselors and people who work with clergy. I like the particular perspective the clergy bring to the theory and, of course, Larry and I are living examples of "Generation to Generation."
The seminar is held at the retreat center located in West Virginia that is owned by the congregation where Larry served (successfully!) as senior pastor for thirty-two years. Not many members of the clergy of any denomination retire after such a long pastorate with themselves and the congregation still in good shape. Larry and his wife, Jean, have two children and three grandchildren in Manhattan. They were here for my institution and for Palm Sunday. I hope many of you will get a chance to meet them in the future.
So, I'm going off to talk about my work, my life and my new parish with clergy colleagues. I'm going to listen to some presentations by people who do the same kind of work I do and who are interested in "Bowen Theory," Murray Bowen's particular take on how family systems (congregational systems) work.
I have been going to this kind of class twice a year for almost a decade now. I'm writing about it at some length because I plan to continue this work as part of my ongoing professional development. You can expect to read about me doing this for years to come, I hope. The next session is the last week in September.
I certainly enjoyed my vacation. I always enjoy these classes, but it will be good to be back in the parish very soon. Saint Mary's already feels like home. S.G.
PARISH PRAYER LIST . . . Your prayers are asked for the members of our Armed Forces on active duty in Kosovo and for, Shirley, Mark, Maria, Ellen, Louise, Dorothy, Warren, Thomas, Robin, Shawn, George, Richard, Anthony, Karen, Margaret, Ken, John, Nel, Daisy, Michael, Maxine, Gloria, Nina, Mary Ellen, Walter, Pearl, Rodney, priest, and Maurice, priest.
GRANT THEM PEACE . . . May 16: 1960 Minnie Packard Rounds; 1992 John Francis Arnold; May 18: 1949 Don Patterson.
LITURGICAL NOTES . . . The Sunday Proper: Acts 1:1-14, Psalm 47, 1 Peter 4:12-19, John 17:1-11 . . . 9:00 Celebrant Father Parker, Preacher Marc Burnette, 10:00 Celebrant & Preacher The Rector, 11:00 AM Celebrant Fr. Choate, Preacher Marc Burnette, 5:00 PM Celebrant & Preacher, Father Parker.
AROUND THE PARISH . . . Best (but not the only) rumor heard by the Rector on his return from vacation: The Trustees are selling the church and moving the congregation to New Jersey. . . St. Mary's will host the 3rd Sunday tea at Roosevelt Hospital for AIDS patients this Sunday. Contact Jon Bryant if you can help. . . Nursery Donations to date total: $3,003. More is needed. Please make your checks payable to the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin and mark them for the nursery . . . Attendance last Sunday: 173.
THE NINTH AVENUE STREET FAIR will be the weekend of May 15th and 16th. St. Mary's will help people a booth for the Episcopal Church. If you go to the fair, do stop by, or help if you can.
FROM FR. CHOATE . . . This Sunday, May 16, will be my last at St. Mary the Virgin. On July 1st I will assume the cure of two churches in Mississippi. I will be vicar of St. Matthew’s, Kosciusko, and St. Mary’s, Lexington. This new assignment is a great challenge for me and I am excited about it. Although my time with you has been brief, I feel as though I have made some wonderful, lasting friends here. I appreciate the experience that I gained under the tutelage of Frs. Gerth, Parker and Shin. It is invaluable experience and will serve me well in years to come. Thank you all for your kindness and for the hospitality that you extended to me and my family. We will miss you and remember you with fondness. God Bless, Horace Choate
FROM THE RECTOR . . . I write to say in print some words of thanks to Father Horace Choate and to Marc Burnette for their service to this congregation. I want the people of the parish to know how helpful Father and Marc have been to me personally since my arrival. I have been here long enough to know that both of them will be missed even more by you who have known them longer. I greatly regret that I did not have the privilege of working with them from the beginning of their time at Saint Mary's. Our parish can look forward to following the work to which these two persons will be called in the future with pride and affection. I certainly hope that both of them will be visitors to Saint Mary's many times in the future, and sooner than later. Father, Marc, Godspeed. S.G.
The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin - Operating Statement, April 30, 1999
Receipts Actual Actual Annual
April To Date Budget
Pledge 7,265 42,392 125,000
Plate 11,933 29,877 88,500
Other Income 5,040 29,582 75,000
5% Drawdown* 53,100 149,100 266,042
Total Receipts 77,338 250,951 554, 542
Salaries & Benefits 29,681 90,782 242,657
Administration 7,824 22,360 55,819
Physical Plant 29,263 83,618 192,661
Miscellaneous 1,388 1,233 4,700
Diocesan Assessment 465 13,888 53,691
Loan Payments 2,695 10,781 18,867
Music Program 11,271 49,107 108,751
Total Expenses 82,587 271,769 677,146
Surplus/(Deficit) (5,249) (20,818) (122,604)
* NOTE: Diocesan Investment Guidelines recommend that a parish take only 5% of the net asset value of its endowment as income during the year.