Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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Let Your Voice Be Heard!

8/29/2021

Please attend the September 19 Olivet meeting to discuss the Potomac Episcopal Vision Team Report.  

We’re holding this special parish meeting at St. Mark’s, 6744 S Kings Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22306, because our sanctuary doesn’t support remote attendance. 

You can join via Zoom by staying on the same link used for the 10:00 worship service: Sunday Morning Zoom Link.


 

We want to hear from you. If you haven't shared your views (positive, negative, anxious, happy, …..), call 703-303-6083 or email Olivettreasurer2@verizon.net.  

Here's what we've heard from you so far: 

  • Each parish has its own unique DNA. The collaboration needs to understand what makes each parish unique and then initiate activities to replicate what created loyalty in each parish among its core members. Olivet's DNA is a "small parish." Combining into a larger parish goes against Olivet's DNA.  
  • Olivet has a unique shared intimacy that accepts each other as we are – more like siblings than members, with a belonging more like the families some of us no longer have than membership. By combining parishes, we would lose the accepting, gracious, loving family we have at Olivet. The Vision Team's proposed new parish doesn't acknowledge the value of that intimacy, nor does it talk about how the combined parish would seek to create it.  
  • Understanding of Olivet's financial circumstances is growing along with a desire to find a way to deal with our finances without losing who we are. 
  • The combination of the parishes seems to be financially driven and rationalized by mission arguments. Does God want us to take the easiest path? Olivet's corner is an excellent location for a church, an easily accessible place to find Christ. 
  • There is support for exploring how Olivet might use its property in community ministries that generate sufficient income for us to continue as a parish. For example, use the Chapel/Simpson Room for worship and lease the entire 1957 building for ministry (ministries?) or other ventures that paid rent. 
  • These points do not preclude participation in the Vision Team's recommended committee from working out details of a combined parish that could include Olivet. 
  • The Vestry suggests participation in the recommended committee as part of a discernment process to understand the way God wants Olivet to go. We need to proceed in a way that brings everyone together – it's not acceptable to write off some of us as "not wanting to come along." 

As we discussed these points, we realized that participation in the committee is a discernment process. Some in Potomac Episcopal are saying God is telling them to merge. We haven't heard that message, and no one in any of the four parishes can speak for God. 

What is God telling you? Call, email, respond as we reach out to you over the coming weeks. Be there on September 19 and share your thoughts. Over the years, we've comforted, loved, cried, argued, worked, screamed, fought each other, and come together as a family. We need to stay together. We need to make these decisions together as a family. 

Thx,
Your Vestry


Olivet Listening Sessions

Talking Points. 

Olivet’s DNA is “small parish”.   Combining into a larger parish goes against Olivet’s DNA.  Each of the other three parishes have their own unique DNA.  The collaboration would do well to consider understanding what makes each parish unique and initiate activities to replicate today in the collaboration what has created loyalty to each parish among its core members.

Many expressed concern that by combining we would lose the accepting, gracious, loving family we have at Olivet.  We have a unique shared intimacy that accepts each other as we are – more like siblings than members, with a belonging more like the families some no longer have than membership.  The VT’s description of the proposed new parish doesn’t acknowledge the value of that intimacy, nor does it talk about how the combined parish would seek to create it.

Understanding of Olivet’s circumstances is growing along with a desire to find a way to deal with them that doesn’t involve losing who we are.

Combination seems to be financially driven, rationalize by mission arguments.  Does God want us to take the easiest path?  Olivet’s corner is excellent location for a church, a symbol to the community.

There is support for exploring sustaining Olivet by using its property in community ministry that generates sufficient income for Olivet to continue as a parish, possibly by using the Chapel/Simpson Room for worship and the entire 1957 building for ministry (ministries?) or other ventures that paid rent.

These points do not preclude participation in committee to work out details of combined parish.

The Vestry recommends participation in the committee as part of a discernment process to understand the way God wants Olivet to go.  We need to proceed in a way that brings everyone along – it’s not acceptable to dismiss some as “not wanting to come along.”

 

Broader Observations.

Many (most?) of the members of all four parishes have been aware of the other three parishes over time.  When selecting a parish many of us considered the others and choose the one that best suited who we were.  Over the years we’ve “swapped” members from time to time.

Those of us who are losing something as our parishes disappear are not likely to join the combined parish if we do not see in it what has kept us at our current parish.

Olivet’s DNA is “small parish”.   Combining into a larger parish goes against Olivet’s DNA.

Do not want to lose the accepting, gracious, loving family we have at Olivet.  We have a unique shared intimacy that accepts each other as we are – more like siblings than members, with a belonging more like family than membership.  The VT’s description of the proposed new parish doesn’t appear to offer or acknowledge that intimacy.

Understanding of Olivet’s circumstances is growing along with a desire to find a way to deal with them that doesn’t involve losing who we are.

We could explore using Olivet’s property in community ministry that generated sufficient income for Olivet to continue as a parish, possibly by using the chapel for worship and the entire 1957 building for ministry (ministries?) that paid rent.

Parishioner thoughts.  Taken from notes made during listening sessions, raw data.

“We” in the comments below refer to Olivet unless stated otherwise.”

Report written as if to sell a decision that’s already been made.

Churches as we have known them are a “dying breed” and need to change.   We need to re-examine ourselves.

Can’t be all that we’ve been before, need to keep and repurpose.

Look for new ways to use Olivet’s property – revive marriage ministry, explore possible other uses of main building in way that generates income to support continued worship and fellowship by Olivet community (education center, community emergency response center, … ).

Keep all 4 pastors, re-assigning new roles within team.

Solicit giving for specific needs, such as rectory and parking lot renovation.

All four parishes have strengths, working together has been wonderful.

Could we get businesses to sponsor for community mission center and mission work?

Worship has not provided the opportunity to connect with each other, more group activity would help.

People will do what they want to do.

Find out what we’re passionate about and do it.

Difficult for Olivet to make a decide while its members are separated.

Could the combined parish have two campuses?

Need to change “look and feel” to dealt with more of what future will bring.

Need to be there for the people as a church.

Would Michael stay?

Drawn to Olivet by its size, small enough to feel accepted.  Olivet has been more gracious than other churches, accepting me where I am.  We will be lost in a larger parish. I don’t know if we’ll come if there’s a merger.

God works in many ways, his hand is here and will do what’s right.

Olivet is a small but faithful group.

Fear someone on the 19th will call for a community vote on merger.

Merger not acceptable, do not want to lose my church, heartbroken (2x)

Olivet once closed in 30’s for a few years, then was re-opened.

Chapel is precious.

Not a fan of full consolidation, have been “one family” for Morning Prayer and Compline, but not a fan of the hybrid services (3x)

Hope we could use Olivet buildings used for some services in combined parish.

Like combined outreach and collaboration, not a fan of anything else. (3x) Danny – financial figures shocking. Looks like it precedes pandemic.

Want to keep Rite I in chapel and Rite II in main sanctuary (2x)

Could move Rite II to chapel if community ministry called for repurposing main sanctuary.

Surprised by downward slope in data.  Want an option other than Olivet disappearing.

Feels as though decisions already made. Wonder if Olivet was adequately represented, our people on the team dropped out.  Does the vision capture why we have stayed at Olivet through the tensions of the past thirty years?

Something must be done. Big drop in Olivet's attendance and membership. (2x)

Need to move in different direction.

Praise Band exit took away critical mass.

Very thorough report with clear next steps. Question – if we don't join the committee and use the time to figure out our direction, will we worship in our own facilities?  (Can't answer. Purpose of the committee is to figure out direction. Make sure we are represented this time. Explore combination in parallel with how to make Olivet sustainable, remaining in collaboration.)

How will COTS move? If COTS leaves, exacerbates our financial situation.

Likely stuck in covid mode at least through the fall.

I like the things I see, and that are recommended (committee, parish decisions). Recommendations are solid (p. 53)

***No emotional attachment to 1957 Building, Have attachment to Simpson Room, Chapel, and Memorial Garden.  Dispose of/Reuse 1957 Building.

Not sure whether I would go to new parish located at current St. Marks – It’s beautiful but …  Would look at options for closer parish more closely matching what we had at Olivet.  (3x)

Following along, curious, will see what comes up.

8:00 service, 10:30 service, and Wednesday Noon Service are like little interrelated families, each with their own intimacy and personal history.

It’s the personal history we need to celebrate, not names and dates.

I stayed at Olivet after retirement because of friends.

As painful as it is, something has to be done.

Keep hearing undercurrent of “I don’t like” “Yes we should merge”.  Some minds are shut and won’t come along or will be problems.

Tried All Saints when looking for a church and found them cold and not receptive to new members.

Need to acknowledge grief and loss, not “history”  We’re who we are, not who has come before.

We’re siblings, not members.

How do we combine four parishes into one when most members have been aware of the others and chosen to be part of their current parish.

Scary, but a sense of excitement, challenging to define who we are, continues work of interim priest.

My father is dying and everyone is rejoicing that they can now give his house to someone else.

The framing of the problem of how to combine needs to be expanded beyond the legal, canonical and other tangible issues to include awareness of the intangible personal capital that must be preserved and brought into the new parish.

Report did not provide any insight into its consideration of alternatives other than combining.

Need to understand where we are (people, finances, …_

Report well-written and organized, but team gave no serious consideration to any alternative other than combination of four parishes.

The team was dismissive of some comments received in their listening sessions.

Four parishes have unique identifies that were not considered or documented in report.

Are the four parishes a good fit for each other?  Would we be talking about combination if we were not in extreme circumstances? The push to combines seems “artificial”, why are we being pushed toward it without consideration of other alternatives?

Could the four parishes settle on a single rector in a normal search process.

Could we combine back office and ministry functions to reduce costs while allowing each parish to continue to maintain its own unique identify?

Apprehensive about joining! If I were looking for a new parish, would I give serious consideration to the combined parish?

Report did not consider several key questions:

  • What is the DNA of each parish?
  • Why do we think these DNA’s will mix into a “good marriage”.
  • What is each parish looking for?

Are we the best fit for each other?  Are we a suitable fit?  Not just those who have embraced the collaboration – how about those we haven’t seen?  How do numbers participating in collaboration worship and ministries compare to those who had regularly attended worship pre-COVID?

Social Justice’s pre-occupation with White Supremacy without consideration of progress made over last fifty years sends a message that tells me I won’t be accepted in new church, makes me want to “move on”.

Team presents combination as “all or nothing”, with no choice other than combination or continuation of status quo.

Collaboration has the feel of “summer camp” – what would happen if we “went home”?  Would we stay in touch?

VT report is well written, thoughtful; facts well researched. Committee was concerned about lack of Olivet participation.

Supportive of combination.

Sadness in some respect.  Giving up history, buildings, connections to people.

Sometimes things have to die if they are to be reborn, Ending to create a new thing is good.

Won’t be the same, Excited and enthused, re-energized.

Need thoughtful and comforting transition process.

Opportunity for new mission, more than one parish.

Reuse of property could be exciting.

Well done report, team worked hard.

Lot’s of good memories at Olivet, San on Sundays with just a handful of people,

Felt God is telling us church as we know it is no longer God’s way.

No reason we haven’t been growing.

Excited about possibility of using property every day of week.

Sad some haven’t tried to join in hybrid worship and other collaboration activities.

Have made new friends

Regret those who feel distressed

See two campus option (Olivet and St. Marks), with 8:00 Rite I in chapel and reuse of 1957 building (Koinonia?) Lot’s of options, exciting.

Could start growing again, not sustainable as we are (financed, attendance/participation)

Don’t have to lose those who have been invested at Olivet.

Sad but also excited.

Will lose some.

Feels merge of churches appears to be the easiest path.  Does God want us to take the easiest path?

The merger seems to be driven by financial concerns. 

Small churches offer community feeling not easily available in a larger church.

Joined Olivet because of the chapel. What is the attraction of the mega-churches?

Music can fuel a feel good experience rather than a spiritual growth experience.

Don’t understand the rush to merger.  Let the committee work out an attainable timeline.  A sense of being rushed into combining doesn’t sit well with those who are uncomfortable with combining.

What makes me happy is traditional worship in an environment such as the chapel.

 

Observations. Picture emerging, to be updated as we hear from more parishioners.

Many (most?) of the members of all four parishes have been aware of the other three parishes over time.  When selecting a parish many of us considered the others and choose the one that best suited who we were.  Over the years we’ve “swapped” members from time to time.

Those of us who are losing something as our parishes disappear are not likely to join the combined parish if we do not see in it what has kept us at our current parish.

Olivet’s DNA is “small parish”.   Combining into a larger parish goes against Olivet’s DNA.

Do not want to lose the accepting, gracious, loving family we have at Olivet.  We have a unique shared intimacy that accepts each other as we are – more like siblings than members, with a belonging more like family than membership.  The VT’s description of the proposed new parish doesn’t appear to offer or acknowledge that intimacy.

Understanding of Olivet’s circumstances is growing along with a desire to find a way to deal with them that doesn’t involve losing who we are.

We could explore using Olivet’s property in community ministry that generated sufficient income for Olivet to continue as a parish, possibly by using the chapel for worship and the entire 1957 building for ministry (ministries?) that paid rent.

 

Possible bins for data.

What defines Olivet?  What do we want to keep?

Do we recognize the current situation cannot be sustained?

Do we want a choice?

Does the report represent a foregone conclusion, a decision already made without our input?

 


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