Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Thank you for your desire to know more about Saint Barnabas, and welcome to this profile of our worshipping community. We are searching for a full-time rector who can join us on our journey and thrive in our community.
We are a multi-generational parish, open to all, with a commitment to mutual caring and support. Since this past Fall and season of Advent of 2017, we as a parish family have engaged in conversations to discover who we have been, where we are now, and what we want for the future. A survey and all-parish meeting revealed that we appreciate the sense of community that we get at St. Barnabas. In addition to our spiritual life, we value St. Barnabas as a channel for outreach, and we delight in our traditional choir and pipe organ music. We have a permanent property trust that has allowed us to be good stewards of our facilities. In addition, we have recently raised the funds needed to repair and restore our beloved stained glass windows. A vigorous stewardship campaign continues to keep our parish financially sound.
Our collective vision for the parish’s future includes further expanding ministry beyond the church walls, including by increasing partnerships with other churches and community organizations. We would like to explore new ways to grow, and to engage our youth. We seek a rector who can fulfill his or her ministry while helping us to increase our membership, deepen our spiritual life and to continue to care for each other.
Thank you for considering this profile of our cherished parish. If you are interested in applying to St. Barnabas, please forward your OTM profile, resume, and a sermon on audio or video (if available) with a cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org, by May 3, 2018. We pray for you as you discern your own path and ask your prayers for us.
In trust and faith in the Lord,
The Search Committee
on behalf of the Vestry and People of Saint Barnabas
The Church of St. Barnabas is a Christian community, grounded in the Episcopal tradition, which celebrates the love of Christ through regular worship, fellowship and music. Our goals are to grow in faith, both within ourselves as individuals and by welcoming others from a variety of backgrounds and stages of life, and to reach out and share God’s abundant gifts with others.
St. Barnabas is a vibrant, caring community with a focus on the needs of one another and the community around us. We are drawn together by strong worship services, and by a shared love of our music program.
Our congregation comes from predominantly Christian religious backgrounds, although only 40% of respondents to our recent survey were raised in an Episcopal tradition. We view ourselves as faithful and accepting of a wide variety of theological beliefs. St. Barnabas is a broad church with traditional services. Our parishioners regularly seek out clergy in times of trouble and for spiritual guidance.
We are an active community but the majority of our community is over the age of 50. At the same time, with about a third of the congregation having children under 18, we view ourselves as a family-friendly congregation. We enjoy working and eating together, and are excited to grow together as a congregation.
Our Vestry and Finance Committee have worked hard to ensure that the church is in good financial shape (see St. Barnabas by the Numbers). We have a long tradition of employing clergy assistants, empowering them for fruitful service both at St. Barnabas and in their later positions. Due to the transition the parish does not have an Assistant Rector now, but we look favorably on filling such a position once a new rector is in place.
Approximately 140 parishioners participated in the Search Committee’s survey, providing insight into who we are, our perceived strengths and opportunities for improvement, and the characteristics we hope to find in our new rector.
In the past four years we have seen a modest decline in average Sunday attendance. Survey respondents who indicated that their attendance has declined cited most often as the reason that after confirmation, their children no longer wished to attend church, or that as empty-nesters they went out of town on weekends.
Most of us live in the Rivertowns of Irvington, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings on Hudson and Tarrytown, New York. Our villages boast engaging cultural activities, short commutes to New York City, and award-winning schools.
Our parish’s home is anchored by the historic church building, begun in 1852 when Rev. William McVickar was named as a missionary to the village of Dearman. St. Barnabas was one of the first churches built in the settlement, which was later renamed Irvington after noted author and local resident Washington Irving. The property now includes a parish hall, wings for church offices and the Sunday School, a Memorial Garden for burials and a 12-room (including six bedrooms) rectory. The buildings and grounds are supported by a Permanent Property Trust. Over the past decade, major upgrades have benefited the rectory, the church, and our parking area and grounds. A large project of restoring our stained glass windows will be completed this year.
The Church of St. Barnabas has a lively array of activities:
We have two Sunday Eucharists: Rite 1 at 8 am and Rite 2 at 10 am. During the latter, Sunday School is taught, and children join the service following the Offertory. We are lucky to have enthusiastic acolytes, lay readers, and Altar Guild members to assist in our worship. A well-organized Fellowship Committee provides appetizing fare for convivial Sunday coffee hours as well as occasional parish dinners and receptions.
Once a month we host “Rhythms of Grace,” a worship service designed to offer a warm and welcoming environment for children and families with special needs who may not be comfortable in a regular (and quiet) service. After lessons and crafts, communion with grape juice and rice crackers is shared in the sanctuary with all the form and beauty of an Episcopal church service adjusted to suit our children’s needs.
Annual services include Blessing of the Animals and Holy Week services (Tenebrae, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and a special Stations of the Cross for children on Good Friday.) The celebration of our patronal feast — St. Barnabas Day in June — prominently features the Sunday School children, followed by a parish-wide picnic.
The music program at St. Barnabas is led by Donald Butt, who is celebrating 50 years as the organist and choirmaster of our Canterbury Choir. In 2000, a magnificent new American Classic organ was installed, making possible concerts by renowned visiting organists. The music program offers a variety of concerts throughout the year, including “Reflections on Christ’s Nativity” in mid-December, a program of poetry readings, Bible passages and carols. St. Barnabas has also usually sponsored a children’s choir, and we look forward to re-launching that group in the future.
St. Barnabas’s lay leadership drives much of what we do and provides a solid foundation during times of transition. We offer many different ministries, and more than 92% of our congregation participates in some way. Our parishioners also take part in Diocesan activities to an unusual degree for a mid-size church, helping to lead entities that include Episcopal Charities, the Finance Committee and, until recently, the Standing Committee of the Diocese.
Outreach is very important to us as a church family. We are well-known in the surrounding communities for our annual sales: a two-day Thrift Sale in May and two Outreach Clothing Sales – a small one in July and a large, week-long sale in November. These events meet the needs of our community with inexpensive clothing and household items, while raising significant funds and providing fellowship opportunities for many parishioners (and for some of our neighbors who also volunteer). Eighty percent of the proceeds from the clothing sales are given away as grants to local charities — a total of $791,334 from 1996 through 2017. Other outreach programs include food donations to the Yonkers Food Pantry, and semi-annual participation in Midnight Run for the Homeless in New York City.
Christian Education at St. Barnabas centers around the Sunday School program, which tends to have over 40 children registered. Teachers are volunteers, and currently use the SPARK curriculum in grades pre-K through 4, and the Re:Form curriculum in grades 5-7. Confirmation is a clergy-led year-long program for our 8th graders.
Christian Education at St. Barnabas also includes REPAIR (Rivertowns Episcopal Parishes Action on Inclusion and Race), an organization co-founded and co-led by St. Barnabas parishioners, which meets monthly and offers special events such as talkbacks with noted authors, topical movie screenings and Lenten and Advent series focusing on inclusion and racial justice. In addition, St. Barnabas offers an Interim Pastor-led Sunday Bible Study and a parishioner-led Wednesday Bible Study. There is a desire to increase educational opportunities for adults.
“Warm” and “welcoming” are the words we use most often to describe our parish. We believe that “cultivating a strong sense of community and fellowship” is the most important characteristic of a worship community.
We overwhelmingly see our current style of worship and music, firmly based on the Book of Common Prayer and the 1982 Hymnal, as a strength, but there are members of our congregation who are open to our exploring a wider range of worship styles.
Our parishioners are very engaged in the ministries of St. Barnabas. At least 92% of our parishioners have participated in one or more ministries, and 37% have participated in more than five ministries. Our thrift and clothing sales draw the highest number of participants, with at least 82% of our parish participating in one or both.
Our parishioners are also deeply interested in and committed to our search process. Our Search Committee survey elicited a response rate that exceeded 50%, and more than 65 adults and 10 children attended a parish meeting to discuss our parish successes and challenges in more depth.
About half of us believe that “addressing social needs beyond St. Barnabas” is an important activity for us, and about 88% of us believe that the outreach programs we currently have are a strength.
Generally, we believe that we are doing a good job for our younger children with our Sunday School (although we also see room for improvement). However, many of us are concerned that we are not doing enough to keep our older children and young adults engaged.
What is the most important part of coming to church?
– I feel it is meaningful to be with God, Jesus and my friends and family
– Making crafts that have to do with the lesson before the service
– I like when I get to sing after Sunday School
– Getting it over with
Are there any types of events or activities for children that you wish St. Barnabas would offer?
– More Bible studies
– More arts and crafts
– Going up to the front of the church is more fun than sitting
What kind of person do you think we need as our next rector?
– Want a rector who makes things
– Patient, kind, helpful, soft, happy
– Liking children
– Not be strict
*The Search Committee separately surveyed children in the parish, and found they were quite evenly distributed among school grades from 2nd through 7th. Two-thirds reported they attended church most Sundays, and usually took part in Sunday School on those days.
We hope that a new rector will accept us where we are, and help us move forward as an energetic Christian community. Our new leader should provide a spiritual compass, helping us to deepen our relationship with God. We seek inspired preaching that will relate Bible lessons to real life, and challenge us to follow the words of Jesus. As a parish, we hold diverse perspectives on how best to do this.
The rector we seek also should assist us to think strategically. St. Barnabas has a tradition of strong lay leadership, but we need to re-assess our long-established views of the parish’s strengths. Do we really possess these gifts? Are they good strengths to have? How can we best marshal our true assets to meet the parish’s enduring needs?
Our parish generates roughly $600,000 of revenue annually, of which “pledge and plate” income is about 70% of the total. Our Thrift Sale and Clothing Sale have been major contributors, representing approximately 20% of total revenue. We rely primarily on Pledge and Plate, the Thrift Sale and Use of Facilities to support our ongoing operations. Use of Facilities revenue is, for the most part, generated from classroom rental to a local after-school program. 80% of the proceeds generated from the Annual Clothing Sale are dedicated to Outreach, with the remainder assigned to property upkeep. Investment income can be used to support the operations of the Church, but in 2016 and 2017, that was not necessary.
The annual expenses for Clergy and Administration and Plant and Property comprise the majority of our operating costs. During this most recent transition period, we have had an Interim Pastor, a Music Director, a Communications Coordinator, an office assistant, and a sexton. While we currently do not have an Assistant Rector (due to the transition), we have historically had one, and the parish supports that tradition. Outreach expense represents charitable donations resulting from the annual Clothing Sale. In 2017, we contributed over $54,000 to 25 separate charitable organizations.
As of the end of 2017, our combined capital accounts totaled $1.7 million. The largest component of our capital funds is the Permanent Property Trust, with a current balance of $1.4 million. The trust agreement provides that $1 million of this amount shall not be invaded. Excess amounts above $1 million can be used to meet long-term property needs, and income earned from the Trust can be used to meet annual operating needs.
Our average Sunday attendance, excluding Christmas and Easter services, was 95 in 2017, a decline from prior years, believed to be largely due to our transition year. Pledges have come down as well, again reflecting the transition period.
We have a vibrant Sunday School program, led entirely by volunteer teachers. We look forward to growth in this area, as we work to attract younger families.