Church of the Ascension, Episcopal, Rochester, NY
Ministry Portfolio 2014
Summary: We are seeking a new rector to serve God and his people at Church of the Ascension in Rochester, New York. We are a parish in the northern [10th Ward] section of Rochester. We are located in an urban residential area, only two blocks from Eastman Business Park. The Maplewood neighborhood grew mostly to accommodate the large population employed by Eastman Kodak Company and has changed as times have changed. We currently have about 150 members. Average Sunday attendance in 2013 was 50. We are blessed with a parking area and easy access via Route 104. So while, located in the city, many parishioners drive in from neighboring suburbs. We see potential for growth both as a neighborhood church and from suburbanites who may come to value our and programs, missions and services. We seek a rector who will work with us and provide leadership in liturgical and pastoral functions of the church. We also want to continue to develop as faithful disciples, collaborate with others who share our values and missions.
Introduction, Background and History: The story of Church of the Ascension begins in 1886 when it was a fledgling congregation meeting for worship, fellowship and planning for the future in homes. In 1888, a first church building was completed, a small brownstone structure on Burke Terrace. At that time, records indicate 20 families and 100 children as members. We were incorporated as Church of the Ascension in 1908. Ground was broken for the current building was constructed on Ascension Day, 1929. After World War II, Ascension and most churches in the area grew rapidly as it served the needs of the community. In the 1960’s an office, church school addition was made to the church. In the 1970’s to 2000’s, Ascension, along with many other churches in the Northeast was challenged with fewer members and erosion of budgets. We have adapted to these challenges and see the potential for growth. In 2011 with both Mission and Congregational Development support from the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester we made some important steps in maintaining our position as a ‘Beacon of Light’ on the corner of Lake and Riverside.
|Looking West from Riverside St.|
Ministry Portfolio: Worship and Planning for Future Mission
Our worship is primarily Sunday mornings. There have been several recent instances of fulfillment in worship over the past several months, some highlights:
- November 3, 2013 was a highlight as there were three persons baptized at our 10:00AM All Saints service; a baby born to one of our immigrant families, a mother and daughter of a parish members extended family who came in from Toronto.
- Christmas Eve service 2013 was filled with music, candlelight and joy.
- December 8, 2013 was a special service where we intentionally and fully involved parish members in work our Vestry had done with Rev. Hopkins, our transition minister, during the fall to understand and document Ascension’s Values.
and Reception Service on Mothers’ Day, May 11, 2014. Bishop Prince Singh and Rev. Sandy
Cordingley lead a service with seven confirmands and their families.
Nativity Window, North Altar
We have taken time to prepare, plan and come to common understanding of our values. In 2013, the vestry, and others in the parish worked through a formal visioning exercise to identify our strengths and opportunities. That helped us understand future directions for our parish. That Mission Statement is:
Come journey – from Togetherness to Godliness, from Welcome to Wonder, in God’s Love and Service. Growing through: Fellowship, Education, Collaboration, & Imagination.
Our Liturgical Practices
We fully enjoy Rite II liturgy, currently Sundays at 8AM and 10AM. The 10AM service is music-filled. We have a fine Skinner organ and are pleased to have a good relationship with Eastman School of Music. We seldom have sung Eucharist. Each month there is a ‘family’ service and Children’s Sermon. Twice a month, there is lay-led Evening Prayer. There is an active weekly Bible Study group. We appreciate preaching focused on the Word that includes ‘take-home’ inspiration. We see music as a ministry and have a small choir and are working on a major capital project for installation of Tower Bells.
While not a direct incorporation effort, we encourage others on their faith-journeys in the following ways:
- offer personal and direct invitations to individuals to take part in some activity/ministry that might appeal to them.
- many who come to Ascension have entered through the kitchen door. We love food and recognize its positive effect on relationships. We hold 5 or 6 community dinners/picnics each year.
- We have been working towards true Hospitality towards all, especially our new-American families; refugees from Burma via Thailand, now in Rochester.
Spiritual, emotional and physical well-being are all affected positively by the attitudes of our parishioners. It is an attitude of genuine caring for one-another. There are saints among us who telephone and/or send cards to people we’ve not seen in a while. We were very happy to welcome Very Rev. Michael Hopkins and Rev. Sandy Cordingley as transition clergy and their love has been very helpful to many individuals and it shows on Sundays.
Pastoral care for those beyond our worshipping community:
- We have a long history hosting 12-step groups in our building. Currently we host: twice weekly AA meetings, (100 people), weekly NA group (20-30 people), weekly gamblers group (~10 people)
- Over 40 years ago, some from Ascension organized a community food cupboard with other neighborhood churches and it is still going strong. It is sited at a Methodist church about a mile from our building.
building serves as the home for Greater Rochester Community of Churches, an
ecumenical outreach and Rochester Interfaith Jail Ministries which offers
programs and educational services.
‘Welcome Home’ gift bags containing personal care items have been
provided to recent parolees.
Collage of 2013 Events and People of Ascension
Ascension’s involvement with the wider Church and region:
- We remain active in the Diocese of Rochester and have delegates and participants in Stewardship, Fellowship, Youth and other activities. We have hosted Bishop Singh’s Staff Retreat and Retreat Groups from other parishes.
- In summer we host a community picnic and share food, games, conversation with our neighbors.
- We have a long history in supporting Food for the Poor and World Blanket Appeal and other international needs.
· About 4 years ago, some people from Ascension recognized a need and (with a small seed grant) started a ministry to provide cleaning supplies and personal care supplies to neighbors in need. The Care Closet Ministry has grown and serves 100-140 people per month with these items not covered by Food Stamp or other programs.
· We recognize opportunity to become involved with partners to expand our impact. We continue to work with the Catholic Cathedral community on summer youth programs.
· We have reached-out to a local charter school, University Prep, to provide overflow parking and shelter to allow them to meet building codes. Future collaboration and ministries are being considered.
· We looked at the possibility of providing space for a day-care center during the week, but were thwarted by building code requirements.
We Thank God Always for all the Blessings we have received. We have many people contributing time, talent and treasure because of that. There is a true commitment that many feel towards this church. We are not afraid of the word – Tithe. In 2014, we had a good increase in pledges. We are fortunate to have had responsible trustees on our Vestry who have proven to be wise and careful to keep our assets stable and growing.
Conflict or Collaborative Change
The end of 2012 and start of 2013 was a time of conflict at Ascension. Rather than re-tell the story of that conflict, we will identify how we addressed it:
- Name the conflict – Divided Church
- Seek help from qualified advisors – In consultation with our Bishop and members of his staff we entered a formal conflict resolution process / Mediation with a consultant who quickly saw need for an additional person to help. We put in the time and effort to work through this process.
- One of the outcomes of the mediation was confirmation of the need for ‘regular’ governance of the parish during this time and the Annual Election of Vestry and Wardens
- Change that does not go well is clearly painful. It is imposed and not accepted.
- Change that is welcome is preceded by conversation, building trust and relationships, shared values, shared goals, understanding the conditions, who, what, when, how, etc. and flows well as participation is valued in bringing improvement.
- Many of the statements in this Ministry Portfolio flow from our mission and vision workshops in 2013 to assess our values and future directions. It was widely shared in all-parish meetings last fall, after our December 8 service / ‘Deck-the-Halls’ Christmas event, and at our annual parish meeting in January and small group sessions this spring.
We are eager to meet, welcome and work with new clergy who will share our values of welcoming, worshiping, discovery and reaching out to all, within and without our walls, to build a strong, lasting and harmonious community, in keeping with our Mission Statement. Our search committee is actively seeking names of candidates. If you have interest in learning more about Ascension or the position, contact:
Paul Schwartz: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Morris: email@example.com
Also check our website: http://ascensionroch.org