Announcement of Intentional Interim Dean & Return to Worship

An Announcement from the Vestry

Monday, September 28, 2020

Dear St. Mary’s Community:


Your vestry is pleased to inform you of two big announcements!


First, we have selected an Intentional Interim Dean to lead our Cathedral for the next 18-24 months, as we do the work required to strengthen our foundation in preparation for the eventual calling of a permanent Dean.  


Earlier this month, Bishop Phoebe contacted the wardens and advised that she and Canon Sharon Alexander had spoken with several possible candidates for intentional interim dean. They identified Jean Vargo as a qualified candidate who is trained in interim ministry and is available to begin in November. We were given her information and invited to speak with her. Other candidates would not become available until sometime around Easter of 2021. 


We convened a subcommittee of the vestry to review her qualifications and to interview her. We were very impressed with her background and experience. We then had her on a Zoom call with the entire vestry, which then voted in favor of extending an offer.  


Jean Vargo is finishing up an assignment in the Knoxville area. She is a Lutheran pastor who was ordained in 1981, served as a US military chaplain in Desert Storm (retired as an Air Force Colonel), and has had seven appointments as an intentional interim. You may know that since 1999, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the Episcopal Church have been in full communion with each other, and priests in one denomination have been able to serve in the other’s churches (see below).


Jean has experience with the Episcopal church. When she was in the Air Force, she conducted services in the Episcopal-Lutheran tradition. She realizes that the liturgies are almost identical and understands that in our Cathedral, the Book of Common Prayer and the Episcopal liturgy will be used exclusively. Beyond the denominational difference, however, which we know has been successfully navigated by numerous Lutheran and Episcopal clergy over the years, what was paramount to us was Jean’s extensive experience in ordained ministry and her demonstrated leadership, both in the military and as an intentional interim clergy.  Those skills are related to people, communication, conflict resolution, organization and finance. Each of Rev Vargo’s references spoke very favorably of her in each of these areas. The vestry believes that we have found a skilled leader who will help prepare us for our next Dean. Click here for a welcome video from Rev. Vargo.


As you know, Patrick Williams’ last day with us will be September 30. We cannot thank him enough for his generous and caring service to St. Mary’s for three years. Also, we sincerely thank Rev. Eyleen Farmer, whose last Sunday with us will be Sunday, October 4. For the remainder of October, we will be well covered with services being led by our own Deacon Drew Woodruff, who will also preach, in addition to parishioner Adam Nelson.  


Secondly, we also want you to know that we have scheduled a return to worship at the Cathedral on Sunday, November 22. Our Committee of Return has carefully considered safety procedures we will follow, and our plan was approved by the Bishop. Watch for more information.


Finally, we are humbled and gratified by your financial support for the Cathedral, especially during these difficult times. We are including current financial information in our Sunday bulletins, and our year to date contributions now exceed our pre-COVID budget projections. We pray that you will maintain your support, as our stewardship campaign for 2021 begins soon.


We are excited to begin this new chapter in the long and faithful history of St. Mary’s. Your vestry stands with you and is happy to answer any questions you may have.


Scott Morrell, Sr. Warden

Julie Byrd Ashworth, Jr. Warden


P.S. Regarding the agreement between the Lutheran Church and the Episcopal church, see https://episcopalchurch.org/agreement-full-communion-called-common-mission, particularly paragraph 22.