Dear St. Mary’s Community,
We write to inform you of an administrative change that has occurred as a result of a diocesan review by the Bishop and Standing Committee, as required under Diocesan Canon 19.2(d.) The purpose of this required review was to assess the administrative and financial health of each congregation within the diocese. Upon completion of this assessment, all congregations were formally classified as either parishes or mission. It is our understanding that at least half of all congregations within the diocese, including St. Mary’s Cathedral, were classified as missions, while the rest were classified as parishes.
The status of a church as a parish or mission is determined by its recent history as a sustainable faith community. The factors that go into such a decision include whether it has made its full contributions to the Diocese, whether it provides an adequate living for its full time Clergy, and whether it is able to pay its current operating expenses from its own resources, without assistance from Diocesan funds. St. Mary’s has not over the past few years made its full share of contributions to the diocese, and its operating expenses have had to be covered in part by taking funds from its endowment, which is not a sustainable course for more than a few more years.
Among the items on which the vestry will work with the new Intentional Interim Dean will be plotting a course toward sustainability. One of the goals of this endeavor, other than looking toward long-term sustainability will be the reclassification of the church as a parish.
Please know that this administrative reclassification does not affect St. Mary’s status as the Cathedral, nor does it impact you as a member. Worship, ministries and activities will not change. The Vestry (or Mission Council) will have the same responsibilities and fiduciary duties. It does mean, however, that the Cathedral would have to seek approval from the Diocesan Finance Committee as well as Bishop and Council, in order to spend non-budgeted funds that would exceed 2.5% of the aggregate annual budget. This is the same procedure that the diocese itself also must adhere to for similar expenditures.
At the diocesan level, the reclassification does not affect anyone’s eligibility to serve on Diocesan committees. Further, it neither affects the number of delegates that we can send to the Diocesan Convention, nor the assessment of our contribution to the Diocesan budget.
Finally, you should also be aware that the required diocesan review which brought about this administration reclassification happens every three years. Therefore, the reclassification is not meant to be a permanent status or a punitive one but an opportunity to work with the diocese toward a sustainable future. Again, the vestry is committed to working toward a sustainable future and with your continued faithfulness, support and prayers, coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit, we believe that a sustainable future is indeed possible.
As always, if you have any questions, please ask a vestry or clergy member.
Scott Morrell, Sr. Warden
Julie Byrd Ashworth, Jr. Warden
Patrick J. Williams, Interim Dean