July 12, 2020

Two weeks ago I left Newport and the beloved community I found there—Trinity Church. My drive home was not problematic and I went a different route and enjoyed so much natural beauty along the way. I had a number of favorite CDs in the car, but found that I really needed and wanted silence more than anything else.

When I arrived home, it was as lovely to behold as I imagined it would be, and Ezekiel was glad to check out some of his favorite spots while I unloaded the trailer and the car. After that, I fed him, sat down on the deck with a delicious martini and made a few phone calls, and I was in bed by nine PM.

The next morning I was up early, returned the trailer, got some groceries, went to the bank and came home. EZ was along for the ride. [Side note: I was amazed and not pleased that the grocery employees were not masked at all, and a good portion of the customers were not either.] At home, I set up my computer, checked my email, and found that at 5:56PM Sunday night a bishop had written and asked if I were interested in doing another interim. (!!!) I asked if I could take a breath before I started thinking about it. He has been gracious about that.

I am writing to thank you for the privilege of serving among you as a pastor and priest for the past eleven months. Many of you have said very kind and gracious thank you’s to me, and I want to tell you it was a labor of love. I thank God for the strength to serve again after some major illness in the past few years. God is good. I thank Bp. Knisely for his kind welcome and for his and his staff’s readiness to be of any help that we needed or might need. And I thank you.

First, I want you to know how exciting it was to watch you listen to new ideas, add to them in discussions with each other, gain excitement about new possibilities, work together with good critical thinking about all that we were considering and doing, and developing a warm camaraderie throughout. Seeing the fruits of our work was the best blessing possible for me as a clergyman.

Second, I want to thank you for all your hard work, beginning with our splendid and caring Wardens, the Vestry, the staff, and then the many of you who pitched in to do one thing after another to strengthen our sense of community, build deeper relationships, and contribute to the operation of the parish. We accomplished a lot together, and the “we” here includes groups of people that I may not have worked with directly but were all working for our greater good. We made overwhelming gains and growth in stewardship—well over a 25% growth compared to the prior year. We made our financial decisions based on values and priorities, and were transparent about all such decisions, allowing full discussion of the issues involved. We re-started the Capital Campaign, and made tremendous strides in developing a business plan that makes sense, and—with a very credible partner, will serve many people for many years. We revamped the website and strengthened our communications noticeably. We did so much work on our property, thanks to gifts from foundations and parishioners. We served 80-100 people two to three times per month at the Community Meal, with delicious food and true hospitality. And we continued to give the parish TLC through the efforts of our incomparably wonderful TLC.

Then came the virus and quarantine. But that did not stop the Community Meal and it did not slow down TLC. We ramped up communications even more, and your continuing faithfulness in pledging is a great blessing for the parish, as I imagine it is for you who are generous. Lastly, some of us old bowwows learned some new tricks, like Skype and Zoom, which helped us to strengthen community at a time when we had to “physically distance” in many ways.

Third, I want to thank you for your generosity in the “purse” you collected and presented to me. I have never received anything like this in leaving a ministry, and I was deeply touched and quite overwhelmed. Tatiana said, “We want to tell you we love you a lot and are very grateful.” I already knew that, but it was lovely to hear it said one more time. And the physical witness you made in the “mad sign-holding, car-honking parade” past Alan’s and Wendy’s house that Monday night brought tears of joy to my eyes, and I feel them coming again.

I miss you, I love you, and yet it is time to give you over to your wonderful new Rector, Fr. Timothy Watt. He inherits a wonderful, healthy parish, and you have discerned well, for he has so many new gifts that will be most helpful in this next stage of Trinity’s life as a community and as a witness for Jesus Christ and an expression of the grace of God.

God bless you with love, with hope and with joy, and keep you safe!

In Christ, +Jim
[+James L. Jelinek]

PS EZ told me he misses you, too.