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A Holy Covenant between

the Vestry and People of Christ Church, Ithan

and The Rev. John W. Sosnowski

“So, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.  So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)

We, the Vestry and Congregation of Christ Church Ithan, have recently undergone a period of discernment for our church. As part of the Search/Discernment process in looking for a new Rector, we have reached some important conclusions about the challenges we are faced with and about the need to define a future direction for our church.  We seek to confront our weaknesses and build on our strengths in order that we can more clearly define our mission / purpose in this place.  Such a clearly defined mission will allow us to eventually construct a more compelling parish profile and better equip us to re-enter our search for our next Rector.

Objective: Over the next 2 years, we seek to embark on a journey to better understand God, ourselves and our community, and in this process of discernment, improve all of these relationships. As Christ Church, we will keep our eyes focused on Jesus Christ and the Gospel as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be Jesus’ disciples in the world.

We intend to strengthen the qualities that we like about Christ Church, Ithan, and wish to retain and embrace, but also look for new ways to grow and further develop our church.  This process will help us to build the church and improve it so that we will be in a stronger position to seek our new permanent pastor. We will work with Fr. John Sosnowski as the Priest-in-Charge during this time.

Understanding that we are a small Church community, we will seek during this time period to collaborate with our brothers and sisters at St. Martin’s Church in Radnor to work together where and when it makes sense to do so. This should help strengthen some of our efforts and allow us to more efficiently serve God, each other and our community by pooling and sharing resources.  However, we still intend to preserve our unique and special identity as a Church community at CCI.  In the course of building this relationship, we will remain open to where the Holy Spirit leads us.

Areas of focus and timeframe: The relationships noted below are those upon which we (Christ Church, Ithan and Fr. John) will focus our energies.  We seek to address the specific points under each relationship by creating objectives that are measurable and achievable. We intend to assess the plan (together with the Bishop) at the following time periods: 6 months, 12 months and 18 months.  At each of these assessments we will report back our progress to the congregation.  We will adjust the plan as needed. In addition, we commit to welcoming the involvement of all parishioners at Christ Church in the development, implementation and periodic review of this plan. It is our hope to form (large or small) groups of parishioners around each objective identified. This way the group can work on this area and report back to the Vestry on a regular basis on its progress. The experimental arms (noted below) are intended to allow the Church to explore different ways of celebrating God, each other and the community and to do more of what works and less of what does not.

 

Relationship with God:

  • We seek to grow and expand our relationship with God through worship, prayer and formation.  As Christ Church, we affirm our desire to grow in Jesus Christ, to deepen our understanding of his Gospel, and to learn to be better disciples.
  • We hope to increase participation in worship and prayer life both within and beyond Sunday worship as we seek to proclaim Jesus as our Lord.

Examples of what we can do differently to build on things that are working and to experiment with new ideas are as follows:

  • Support and expand our music program and choral scholars
  • Dinner Church, blessing of animals at Radnor Dog Park – St. Francis Day
  • Opportunities for Christian Formation - Bible Study with St. Martin’s and/or Sunday morning Rector’s forum (short films from “Work of the People”), Christian Yoga, Centering Prayer, Jazz Vespers, Evensong (Taize), Personal Reflections at Sunday worship

 

Relationship with each other as a Christian community:

  • We seek to build our relationships beyond our Sunday Service interactions with each other.
  • We hope to increase opportunities for people to connect in Church-related and outside fellowship.

Examples of what we can do differently to build on things that are working and to experiment with new ideas are as follows:

  • Grow Hospitality
  • Pastoral care – more fully engage our Pastoral Care Response Team
  • Shared Vestry meetings with St. Martin’s Church, Radnor, collaboration with them around events and worship, support of “Standing With Iraqi Christians.”
  • Vestry hosting small gatherings with Father John, Potluck Dinners for our church and community, Foyer Groups, Koinonia Groups, opportunities for group activities (e.g. golf) Sponsor a Service/Mission Trip (now, possibly to help rebuilding Texas)

 

Relationship with our local community and wider world:

  • We seek to practice the teachings of Jesus with the greater community and be more engaged with and visible in the community.
  • We hope to increase opportunities for parishioners and guests to live our faith, share our resources and join Jesus in the work of transforming our world.

Examples of what we can do differently to build on things that are working and to experiment with new ideas are as follows:

  • Grow our relationships with the Ardmore Food Pantry and the Radnor Police Department/Radnor Department Parks and Recreation
  • Arts & Education-expand our community outreach by building on our successful “Community Conversation” when we hosted Ronnie P.  Do more of this and grow a speaker series that is engaging and fosters conversations in the community.  What are ways we can draw in new people who at this point are not interested in traditional worship?
  • After school program in Garrett Hill or collaborate with St. David’s in their program with St. John’s A.M.E Church and the Wayne Arts Center
  • Continue to support the work of our Diocese and our Bishop as we participate in our yearly Convention, remain faithful to our yearly giving (“Sacred Gifts”), and collaborate with neighboring churches in the mission of the Diocese. Together as the Body of Christ in Pennsylvania we will share resources, communicate Diocesan opportunities to our church members, and pray weekly for our Bishop, our diocesan staff, and the churches and clergy of our Diocese.
  • Neighborhood meetings in parishioner’s homes to listen to the community around us and get to know them better
  • Build and foster connection with local universities and their students
  • Discover new ways to be an evangelical, philanthropic and transformative / prophetic presence in our community

 

The Vestry and congregation of Christ Church, Ithan seek to form a covenant with one another and with our Priest-in-Charge, The Rev. John Sosnowski, over the next two years to join together and prayerfully and intentionally pursue the objectives of the plan outlined above.  We affirm that this is a holy plan and we depend on God’s grace to achieve what we set out to do.  We recognize the need to be flexible and prayerful over this time period in order to remain rooted in Christ and open to wherever the Holy Spirit will lead us.  We know that our God is a God of surprises and that what we discover may surprise many of us and we commit to go wherever God leads us.

In order for this covenantal relationship to bear fruit, we recognize the need for all of us to pledge our serious commitment to this covenant.  To that end, the Vestry and people of Christ Church, Ithan pledge the following:

  • to pray daily for Christ Church, Ithan, its leaders and its people and for the Spirit’s guidance in our work together
  • to empower one another to take ownership and responsibility for the life, liturgy and physical plant of Christ Church
  • to stretch our resources as needs arise during this covenant time to support experimentation and collaboration, trusting that money will always follow mission
  • to commit to weekly Sunday worship as often as possible so that together we may grow as Christ’s Body and support each other in community
  • to prioritize giving time twice per month outside of Sunday worship to some activity or group or effort of Christ Church, Ithan by active participation and / or leadership whenever possible
  • to actively participate in some effort / program / study in Christian formation to grow in faith and as disciples of Jesus.
  • to intentionally know your church by following all communications and actively discerning what God may be calling you to do in and for your Church
  •  to work together for the success of the three initiatives listed above
  • to continue to support the work of the church through generous pledging and financial giving

 

Fr. John pledges the following:

  • to be a good pastor, to care for all the people of Christ Church, Ithan, to preach and lead worship and celebrate the Sacraments of the Church.
  • to pray daily for Christ Church, Ithan, its leaders and its people and for the Spirit’s guidance in our work together
  • to work collaboratively with the Vestry and to equip it with resources to meet our challenges and the objectives of the plan
  • to build relationships with the community, local universities, the Wayne ministerium, the Merion Deanery, and St. Martin’s Church, Radnor
  • to lead experiments and efforts at collaboration and with the Vestry seek ways to grow our church and its presence in our community
  • to clearly communicate with the congregation about progress in our plan and seek to engage and affirm all members in the work and ministries of the church

 

The Vestry pledges the following:

  • to work collaboratively with Fr. John in achieving the points of our plan, to support him in his ministry, and to seek to engage and affirm all members in the work of the church
  • to pray daily for Christ Church, Ithan, its leaders and its people and for the Spirit’s guidance in our work together
  • to seek out and empower members of Christ Church, Ithan to take ownership and responsibility for the life, liturgy and physical plant of the church.
  • to grow in understanding of challenges facing the broader church and to risk finding new ways to address those challenges
  • to join with Fr. John in the work of leadership, to set direction for our church, to better define its mission / purpose and to raise up others to lead
  • to clearly communicate with the congregation about its work in achieving the objectives of this plan

 

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:12-17)

 

This holy plan, this covenant, has the full support of the Vestry of Christ Church, Ithan, has been clearly communicated to and accepted by the congregation of Christ Church, Ithan at a meeting of the parish held on February 11, 2018 and was sealed in the presence of our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Daniel Gutierrez, at a celebration of Holy Eucharist on December 5, 2017 when we ratified the call of The Rev. John W. Sosnowski to be our Priest-in-Charge for the time specified within his Letter of Agreement.

 

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The Rt. Rev. Daniel Gutierrez, Bishop of Pennsylvania

 

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The Rev. John W. Sosnowski, Priest-in-Charge

 

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Mrs. Julia Gould, Rector’s Warden

 

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Mr. Bruce Wietlisbach, Accounting Warden