Dean Letter: Planning for our Future

Hello St. Paul’s,

A year ago I was in Costa Rica enjoying my first week of sabbatical leave. Just a few days later I would start hearing from you that I was needed at home, and my sabbatical was on indefinite hold. You know only too well how the ensuing twelve months have gone. We’ve all had to adapt, and churches all over the world have faced a challenge we could never have imagined. Like small businesses everywhere, many churches are now facing closure: the loss of revenue from worshipers and related organizations has been catastrophic, especially for the many churches that were already barely surviving in the midst of social change.

St. Paul’s has a different story to tell. Even before I returned to San Diego, our creative staff was already planning ways to engage the congregation and offer pastoral care. As you know, we developed a myriad of activities and opportunities to worship, learn, and support each other through this difficult time. You all responded spectacularly, attending Zoom services, participating in Sacred Ground and Circles of Love, and both maintaining and renewing your pledges, with the result that we came through 2020 intact.

But we weren’t satisfied with merely holding our ground: we forged ahead with exciting plans for the future, confident that the pandemic will pass and the world will need us in new ways.

If you attended our annual meeting, you heard me speak about some of the exciting plans we are working on: remodeling the nave and chancel to be accessible and flexible; creating a space to serve unsheltered neighbors in the chapel undercroft; designing a music center under the Great Hall; adding a bathroom on the 3rd floor; rehabbing the former clergy parking lot; and equipping our old and new spaces for effective ministry. Over 50 parishioners have already been engaged in initial dreaming and planning for all these projects, which will prepare St. Paul’s for a bright future of serving our community.

We are about to order the chairs for the nave, and the chancel remodel is in the hands of the professionals as our architect and project manager prepare a detailed plan and budget. You can see a rendering of what the chairs will look like behind me. You may recall that this project is made possible by the generosity of a single donor.

Based on the feedback we hear from you, the financing for the other proposed projects will come from a corporate effort by all of us working together, just as you all did for the organ renovation a decade ago.

We have hired two wonderful consultants to guide us through this multi-month process, and they are already working hard to familiarize themselves with our congregational culture and history. In the next few weeks you will be invited to participate in discussion groups and surveys, that will help us focus on what you as a community are dreaming of for our church. Please watch for invitations in your email and get involved, so that your voice is heard.

As we emerge from the pandemic, St. Paul’s is entering a time filled with opportunity, and we want every parishioner to be a part of our plans.

See you on Sunday.

Your sister in Christ,

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