Parish of St. Monica and St. James  
Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
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Letter Announcing Exploration of Merger
March 22, 2007

Dearly Beloved,

A unique opportunity for St. James’ has been presented by a neighboring parish for our consideration.  It is one that will call upon us as individuals and as a congregation to open our hearts and minds to a truly Christian response. Our friends at St. Monica’s Episcopal Church – Capitol Hill have reached a critical point in their history and have decided to consider asking St. James’ whether a merger of the two parishes would be mutually beneficial. 

Merging two parishes requires prayer and patience, creativity and compassion, and a willingness to engage thoughtfully on issues around community, money, diversity, identity, leadership, mission and transition on the part of all parties involved. It is both a frightening and wonderful proposition.  Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of losing something precious to us may top the list of immediate reactions to such a venture.  However, upon closer examination, a merger provides us with an opportunity to build the capacity of both parishes by creating a third, blended identity that becomes greater than the sum of its parts.  By building on each other’s strengths and learning from each other’s differences, we are in a position to experience true Christian transformation both personally and as a parish community.  We and the parishioners of St. Monica’s could potentially open ourselves to spiritual, financial, intellectual and physical growth in ways that before, were not imaginable or perhaps even possible.

We are at the very beginning of this process.  The Bishop of Washington, the Canon to the Ordinary, and the Rectors and leadership of both churches have recently begun exploratory conversations about the possibility of a merger and feel strongly that congregational involvement early on is extremely important.

Our next step is to take the conversation parish-wide in both congregations.  To that end, our long time parish consultant Bob Gallagher will be coming to the city of Washington next week to engage in conversations with both rectors and committee appointed by both vestries.  These committees will be comprised of the rector, wardens and at least two other persons from each parish.  Their purpose is simply to get to know each other and see if we can become friends.  Father Downing, Ryan Terry, Brion Cook, Pat Joseph and Amanda Sweet will be representing St. James’ in these conversations. 

The committees will meet for the first time on Friday, March 30th followed by an open meeting for all members of both congregations on Saturday, March 31st from 1:30 – 3:30 pm in our parish hall.  This open meeting will be specifically for everyone to ask questions about merger procedure, what merger is, and the implications for our parishes.  We encourage you to attend and to help us set the stage for this process.   

The Lord be with you,

Father Downing                                 
Ryan N. Terry, Sr. Warden                        
Brion Cook, Jr. Warden 

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