12 September 2020
Greetings St. Lukes! We are here with an overview of the process your council underwent this past spring and summer that brought us to our July recommendation to pursue hiring on Elle Dowd as part of the church staff. Below are several announcements, combined for convenience, that summarize the steps from the inception of the idea to the council’s July recommendation.
The internship committee members experienced, and heard from others, the importance of aspects of their identities being reflected in the pastoral identity of Elle, as well as her skill in highlighting racial, gender, and sexual identities that have been historically marginalized. In particular, the internship committee saw Elle’s experience and gifts in interfaith and ecumenical work to be a good fit with the council’s hopes for recruiting partners with whom we could share the Grace church property. Further, Elle could provide additional resources and spiritual discernment to the congregation and we were experiencing lowered capacities due to the pandemic. And, there was the additional factor of Elle’s availability and familiarity with the community, which had the appeal of high efficiency, as there wouldn’t be a full call process (which are often lengthy) and she would need no onboarding.
At the May and June council meeting, we discussed a proposal from Pastor Erin that addressed upcoming changes in staff capacity due to Elle’s departure and the anticipated needs of the staff and congregation due to the pandemic and the likely impending move from the Armitage space. Various options to address those concerns were discussed. These options included a full call, a time-bound, or “term” call option, a paid position which was not a call, increasing the responsibilities of other, extent staff positions, or no change at all. At the June meeting, no decision was reached as to how to move forward, and so the vote was moved to the agenda for the next month.
Because of the lack of decision at the June meeting, it was determined that we wouldn’t be able to make a decision at the next meeting with only the current data and input we currently had. Thus, we tasked ourselves with seeking the input of additional congregation members. Each person on council agreed to talk to 1-2 people about the proposal, presenting it as neutrally as they could, and listening to their excitements, concerns, and reasoning. Council members would then report back on the conversations they had had. Based on our discussion at that meeting, the council voted to recommend the congregation consider Elle for a term position of 2yrs.
Lastly, in summarizing the entire process up to this point, we would like to acknowledge that this was a recommendation that came as a surprise to many. In hindsight, we realize we could have been more strategic in gathering congregational input, which, because it was ad-hoc, left some in the know, others not, some people asked for their input more than once, and no real opportunity for the community to discuss together. There were key points in the wider process where we should have been more strategic, creative and transparent.
Throughout the spring and summer, we have tried to be careful and thoughtful. And we recognize the impact of the pandemic on our work. The multiple decisions, changes, and uncertainty in our respective lives left our us not at our best. We continue to ask for your prayers and patience as we work to improve all of our efforts on behalf of the congregation.
The St. Luke’s Council has invited the congregation to a Virtual Town Hall on Sunday, October 11th from 12:00-1:30 p.m. on Zoom to discuss the staffing proposal. The Town Hall will be a chance for you to hear more from the Council, and for the Council to hear more from you, as we discern out how to move forward together. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend!