Greetings from the Search Committee. We’re happy to share that the position announcement and parish profile are posted and we have begun to receive inquiries and letters of application. The position will be posted until November 15, and the committee will consider applications after that date. The parish profile was developed and reported through a series of questions we were asked to address. Answers to these questions were created following the written and in-person opportunities the congregation had to provide input to the committee. The response we’ve received to the profile has been very positive and we remain optimistic that our work going forward will be fruitful. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Pat Luebke, Chair of the Search Committee. Our next status report should be expected after November 15.
The parish profile is presented in the form of response to the questions below. As part of answering these questions, the committee sought feedback from parishioners in writing and held several in-person sessions to engage the parish in our approach to this task.
- Describe a moment in your worshipping community’s recent ministry that you recognize as one of success and fulfillment.
Our virtual ministry – live-streaming and recording our services and adult formation programs – began as an adaptation to the pandemic. But we have continued it as an outreach ministry, with support from the Vestry and volunteers. (Our Strategic Plan, finalized before the pandemic emerged as a health emergency in March 2020, called for livestreaming and video, so in this regard, we will emerge from the pandemic in good position.)
In addition to the innovation in adapting to the pandemic and maintaining the spirit of our worship experience, the Vestry and a special committee advising the parish on pandemic policy have managed the peaks and valleys conscientiously. Tenacity and creativity are among our strengths, which also include a beautiful, historic building with a striking set of stained-glass windows, many of them Tiffany windows; deeply committed major donors and a $4.2 million endowment (as of July 31); and a prime location on the vibrant east side of Milwaukee, just blocks from Lake Michigan. Milwaukee is reinventing itself, and we hope to do likewise.
- Describe your liturgical style and practice. If your community provides more than one type of worship service, please describe all.
We follow the seasons and rites in their order and dignity, with easy grace and engaging, personal connection. St. Paul’s largely follows the service in the Book of Common Prayer, with some changes to the Prayers of the People and a special invitation to Christ’s Table before Communion.
Before the pandemic, we had three services: a quiet and prayerful service at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, a spoken-word-only service at 8 a.m. Sunday, and a service with music at 10:15 a.m. Sunday. The Wednesday service was small, quiet and prayerful, intended to attract people who do not attend any church on Sunday but still wish to worship. On Sunday, the 8 a.m. service was very meditative but friendly, with a Passing of the Peace in which virtually everyone greeted each other. The 10:15 a.m. service was most known for its beautiful music. Our music program is exceptional, led by an accomplished Director of Music and Liturgy.
The pandemic prompted us to reduce our schedule to one service (at 10 a.m. Sunday) and adjust the format (e.g., sometimes no Communion; fewer readings, songs, and choir members; distanced seating in pews; requiring masks and proof of vaccination), depending on the severity of the disease in Milwaukee County.
- How do you practice incorporating others in ministry?
Leaders of St. Paul’s and All Saints’ Cathedral, two blocks away, have started conversations about collaborating in operations ministry to better serve our members and the city. Our next Rector should be prepared to help lead us in this effort – in discerning a vision that transcends individual parish identity and strengthens the Episcopal impact in Milwaukee.
A church with a diverse membership, St. Paul’s encourages parishioners to find ways to serve that suit their interests and skills. A large group of members is active in community outreach, our Parish Life Committee and our Worship, Music and Liturgy Committee. A mix of younger and older members hold Vestry positions.
Still, there is cause for concern. In 2020, we engaged a consultant, Holy Cow!, to assess our congregation’s satisfaction with various aspects of the parish. The results showed that among our members, readiness for ministry is low — as is often the case in clergy-focused systems such as ours because of a loss of missional focus. The Vestry, the congregation, and our Interim Rector are discussing solutions to this (and other issues in the assessment) in preparation for a permanent Rector.
- As a worshipping community, how do you care for your spiritual, emotional and physical well-being?
In non-pandemic times, informal fellowship flows freely at our many group activities, such as our Festival Sunday, Game Day, Movie Night and the African-American Heritage Brunch in February.
We have a mentoring program for new members and a robust Adult Education series. And when a church member falls ill or encounters a crisis, others are there to provide support. For the larger community as well as our own, we host a daycare unaffiliated with the church and 12-step group support meetings.
During the pandemic, members have stayed in touch with each other, checking in regularly via phone with those in need of help or companionship. When services were all-virtual, we held virtual coffee hours after services as well.
Hospitality is a critical strength for us, according to Holy Cow!, though there is room for improvement. The church is widely perceived as friendly and caring. But more than 42% of members do not agree that our church body gives new meaning to life. Because a high level of hospitality is essential, our hospitality must be nurtured internally as well as externally.
- Describe your worshipping community’s involvement in either the wider Church or geographical community.
In the wider Church, we participate in the Diocesan Convention and send delegates to the General Convention. Many of our members serve on diocesan committees. We have supported financially our sister church, Christ Church in Oforola, Nigeria.
In the community, our members volunteer for charitable efforts. As a parish, we sponsor numerous outreach efforts, including our partnership with five churches to operate the Interchange Food Pantry, the only food pantry in downtown Milwaukee. Before the pandemic, we regularly sent parish volunteers to a community meal program and contributed food to the Interchange Food Pantry. Our parish is also a member of Common Ground, a coalition addressing community problems.
We tithe to community causes and allow non-profit groups to use our building for meetings and performances. We open our church for public tours.
Still, we can do a better job in engaging, and meeting the needs of, neighborhood residents. As mentioned, leaders of St. Paul’s and nearby All Saints’ Cathedral have started conversations about collaborating in ministry as well as operations. Our next Rector will help lead us in this effort.
- How do you engage in pastoral care for those beyond your worshipping community?
Besides the initiatives described in question 5, we have an active Outreach Committee that allocates donations to community organizations, organizes volunteer opportunities for members, and provides information regarding community activities and organizations. Also, before the pandemic we operated a Thrift Shop that offered low-cost clothing and household items; we donated the proceeds to charity. We are discussing whether to resume the Thrift Shop.
- Tell about a ministry that your worshipping community has initiated in the past 5 years. Who can be contacted about this project?
As mentioned, our virtual ministry – live-streaming and recording our services and adult formation programs – began as an adaptation to the pandemic. But we have continued it as an outreach ministry, with support from the Vestry and volunteers. Terry Zimmer can be contacted for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How are you preparing yourself for the Church of the future?
We are still discerning how to prepare St. Paul’s for our future, on two major fronts. First, as mentioned, we are discussing collaboration with nearby All Saints’ Cathedral. Second, in preparation for calling a permanent Rector, and in preparation for our future, the Vestry, the congregation, and the Interim Rector are discussing ways to address weaknesses that the Holy Cow! survey identified at St. Paul’s – including low member satisfaction and energy; significant resistance to change; and conflicts developing among the congregation and lay leadership because of our “clergy-focused system.” Those conversations have been fruitful. In recent and promising discussions, a number of longtime members have said they would be open to significant change.
- What is your practice of stewardship and how does it shape the life of your worshipping community?
Our annual stewardship drive has been helpful in reminding us that stewardship is not just about giving money,but giving of ourselves to our church community. In non-pandemic times, the drive brings a series of speakers, mostly from the parish, to talk about stewardship and reflect on themes such as the role and value of the church. We also encourage stewardship through vehicles such as Endowment Sunday, the Birthday Club and Lenten Change, in which members set aside funds for the church.
The Vestry is committed to not exceed a 5% withdrawal from our endowment for church operations, so we can preserve the endowment. Our stewardship program has added funds to endowments, allowing us to plan further into the future. We benefit from the guidance of several parishioners who are financial professionals and serve on our Investment Committee.
Nonetheless, we are working to address serious challenges in declining membership, a declining number of pledges – and a very small, older donor base that provides nearly half our pledge revenue. We look forward to the arrival of a permanent Rector who can help us better position stewardship for our future.
- What is your worshipping community’s experience of conflict? And how have you addressed it?
According to the Holy Cow! results, members are struggling with church decision-making – which suggests we need to evaluate how we address conflict effectively. Conflict is inevitable in any organization, and managing it is crucial; conflict can pose risks — or present opportunities to deepen our self-understanding and fellowship. Our first step is to identify the core values of the congregation and what they say about the kind of clergy leadership that will be most effective at St. Paul’s. Then we need to analyze the gap between what we are seeking in the next Rector and what the Rector will bring to his or her ministry.
- What is your experience leading/addressing change in the church? When has it gone well? When has it gone poorly? And what did you learn?
We have been nimble in making changes in our worship – offering it virtually, via livestream and video – because of the pandemic, as mentioned.
Accepting the need for change and implementing meaningful change are necessary to engage the community. But the Holy Cow! results indicate that members appear to struggle to manage needed change, which might limit growth — in church numbers and impact. Churches grow after developing a “let’s try it” posture and understanding failure as part of learning. St. Paul’s, however, perceives itself to be far more open to change than members are likely to be. We might be “progressive” in being tolerant of others, yet that does not mean we are always adaptable to necessary change. Realizing this, the Vestry, our congregation, and our Interim Rector are discussing changes that we need to make to smooth the path for a permanent Rector who will help make a promising future for the church, as mentioned.
- Please provide four words or phrases describing the gifts and skills essential to the future leaders of your worshipping community.
Action-oriented; pastoral, spiritual, communicator
Learn More About Us!
St. Paul’s Website
St. Paul’s 2021 Annual meeting reports:
St. Paul’s YouTube Channel
St. Paul’s Facebook Page
Languages significantly represented in your parish/institution(approximate # of people)
Provide worship or classes in the following languages – English