Exciting Announcement! Clergy & Staff Update!
At our annual meeting in January, I shared our intention to call an Associate Rector in 2022, a goal the congregation identified several years ago. We had experimented with this position when Fr. Edward Lowe joined our staff while his wife was stationed at Fort Benning in 2020 and 2021. We learned then how helpful it is to have another priest on staff and where best to direct a second clergyperson’s time.
After several months of discernment and opportunity, I am delighted to announce that TWO clergy will soon be joining our staff at St. Thomas as part-time Associate Rectors.
The Rev. Roxane Gwyn will serve as Associate Rector for Pastoral Care. She will assist with pastoral visits and work with the pastoral care committee to expand care for parishioners and the community. She will help organize and support a series of “excursions” for St. Thomas members to cultural and educational events in the region, an idea that developed through our Strategic Planning Process. We also asked her to develop and lead a contemplative worship option which we hope to offer once a month. Roxane is a wise and caring minister who was called to the priesthood after serving in education and non-profit leadership. She was ordained in 2011 by Bishop Michael Curry in the Diocese of North Carolina before he became Presiding Bishop. She has served in the Diocese of Atlanta for the last several years and lives in Hamilton. Roxane will begin on August 15.
The Rev. Darius Sudayi will also soon join St. Thomas staff as Associate Rector for Mission. A grant from the Diocese of Atlanta will help fund this position. He will support some of our current outreach initiatives and assist with administration. As part of his work in mission, some of his time will be available to support other churches in our region. Darius and his family have been part of St. Thomas for many years. He studied at Msalato Theological College in Dodoma, Tanzania and was ordained there in 2006. He and Anna are expecting their third child in September, and his position with us will begin at some point after that time.
Both of these clergy will assist with Sunday and Wednesday worship, but they will not be with St. Thomas every Sunday. As you know, there is a shortage of priests in many areas of The Episcopal Church, including the Chattahoochee Valley. Many smaller congregations – while offering vital witness in their communities – are not able to afford clergy leadership. Roxane and Darius will be with us on average two Sundays each month, leaving some Sundays free to be with other congregations in our Convocation. Both positions are for one year with the option to renew and adapt.
In addition, I am delighted to share that we are expanding Meg Olive-Allison’s role. Meg will now serve as Director of Parish and Community Engagement. She will continue to coordinate internal communication (website, newsletters, etc.) but will also develop content to share beyond the congregation to help St. Thomas’s voice be heard. She will also work with our Outreach Council to strengthen outreach partnerships and help parishioners get involved with ministries in our community. To give her time for this new work, we will soon launch an online program to help manage worship and volunteer schedules. Thanks also to Taylor Mack who has agreed to help answer phones one day a week in the office, allowing Meg and Patty time to focus on some of their projects.
I cannot overstate how amazed and grateful I am for all of these developments. We all want St. Thomas to continue to grow in faithfulness, fellowship, participation, and service. These talented people add tremendous gifts to an already strong team of staff and lay leaders. They are joining us and expanding their roles at just the right time as we resume and enhance many of our ministries.
I often say “God always takes care of St. Thomas,” and I truly believe this. God takes care of St. Thomas chiefly through all of you – through your faithfulness in prayer, service, giving, and care. Join me in welcoming new leaders to serve among us and pray for them as they begin their work.