Sunday, July 3, 2016

Announcement of Departure

*The following note was read in church on July 3. Prayers appreciated for my family, St. Thomas' and me. "For all that has been, Thank You! For all that will be, Yes!- Dag Hammerskold*

July 3, 2016

To the Rector and Wardens of St. Thomas’ Episcopal on behalf of the congregation:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

There have been ongoing conversations at St. Thomas’ about the budget and roles of the staff. In January, Susan and I began talking about the deficit and next steps for the church and for myself. I was in process of planning to apply for rector positions around the Diocese already when we began our conversations, and with the Finance Team and Vestry, we looked at closing out my position at the end of June. I have been diligent in applying for jobs that seemed to fit my calling first, and that would keep us in the Diocese of Virginia and particularly in Richmond if at all possible. I applied for three positions, and reached the finalist stage at all three parishes. During this process which has been open to the Vestry and a few other key leaders, many of you became aware and have expressed concern for me and my family. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

In speaking with Susan, she graciously allowed me to stay through the end of July, a month longer than was previously considered. Despite all our best efforts we cannot speed up others’ processes. I leave, in no way upset or angry, but in the recognition that I am no longer able to be employed by a place I care for and of which I care about the future health and well-being. St. Thomas’ will always be the place of my diaconate, my first parish as an Episcopal priest, and the church where I was ordained. All these memories are cherished, but not as much as the people that make St. Thomas’ what it is. It is in light of all of that, that I announce my departure at the end of this month, with my last Sunday being July 24, upon which time I will take my accrued vacation through the end of the month.

I leave with several solid possibilities that are still in the works, and I will share good news as soon as I am able. I am not worried, and I am working closely with the Diocesan placement team to find a place of service and growth. Please know I affirm and thank Susan as the rector for all she has done to help me grow in my strengths and abilities as a priest, and I remain thankful that she was called to be the rector of St. Thomas’. I am grateful for our close working relationship and I will miss working with her and all the staff here. St. Thomas’ future is bright, and I cannot wait to hear of your successes and accomplishments as you continue to live out our common faith in the decades to come.

Thank you for all that you have given and thank you for remaining faithful to the call of God.

In Christ,

The Reverend Jeffrey “Rock” Higgins

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Blessings, Rock