Welcome to Grace Episcopal Church!
Grace Church is now in partnership with three other Episcopal Churches in this part of the state. Here is an explanation of this partnership from the Diocesan office in Eau Chaire:
We’ve based our model on the English style of serving parishes in small communities, called a Benefice. The benefice is meant, essentially, to provide good clergy for small communities by having those parishes “share” a priest. In this model, each parish maintains its own identity (including their own finances, services, and ministries,) but also plays a role in the larger group which develops its own identity (and ministries.) We’ve named our group after the geological area in which the four parishes reside, the Northern Highlands. This new Northern Highlands Benefice will be comprised of all four parishes and their mission fields. We’re asking each parish to provide two members to serve on a Benefice Board. That Benefice Board will help to shape the shared ministries of the parishes while also providing an equal voice for each parish is discussions that involve the entire group (such as Sunday Service schedules and rotations.) You may wonder what all of this means for you and your connection to your local parish. Essentially, on that level it will look and feel the same as it has for years, with the exception that your main priest will not be with you every Sunday. Rev. Meghan Farr will be available throughout the week, just as your last priest was. She will work with you to schedule mid-week services and Adult Education, just as your last priest did. But she will also, with the aid of the Benefice Board, provide new opportunities as well. Your local parish’s finances will not be mixed with another parish. Your membership will not be transferred to a new church. You will not be “paying more and getting less,” which would be a rational fear of this ministry model. In fact, you will be getting more because there will be knowledge and human resources from other parishes in the benefice that could be the missing piece for that ministry you’ve always wished your parish could try. I will be the first to admit that we’re not entirely sure what all of this will look like when everything comes together. These “shared ministry” models are found around the world and tend to be shaped mostly by the people living in them. Local needs and talents provide different mechanisms for ministry and help to form the way the model functions. In this case, we have four small parishes that each have members that have served on multiple levels of Church administration and have experienced many different forms of ministry. These parishes are stacked with human potential and you have called a priest with the intelligence and creativity to make the most of everything you have to offer; both for the Benefice and at the parish level. Those things combined with a stable of truly wonderful supply clergy give you an excellent opportunity to not only continue in your current ministries, but also improve them and develop others. You all will remain in our prayers as you begin this exciting new ministry model. And, as always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out. The Diocesan Office is at your disposal.
The Rev. Canon Aaron Zook