Vestry Calls New Rector

Melchionna_El_STAFF002The vestry of the Chapel of the Cross is pleased to announce the call of the Rev. Canon Elizabeth Marie Melchionna as rector.  Her first Sunday will be August 7, when she will preach and celebrate at all three services.

Both the recommendation of the search committee and the vote of the vestry were unanimous. The Rev. Melchionna (pronounced mel-SHO-na) is a native of Roanoke, Virginia.  She  holds degrees from Davidson College and Yale Divinity School.  She is currently Canon for Discipleship and Parish Life at St. John’s Cathedral in Denver, Colorado.  She was the associate rector and Davidson College Episcopal campus minister at St. Alban’s in Davidson from August 2009 through June 2013. She speaks several languages, has traveled extensively, authored numerous publications, and is in demand for her preaching and presentation skills. Click here for the complete resume.

“Elizabeth Marie is an extraordinary person and priest with a keen intellect, strong liturgical and musical experience and education, and a calming spiritual presence,” said search committee chair Dick Taylor.  “We are thrilled that she will be leading the parish.”

The Rev. Melchionna is married to North Carolinian Will Roberts. They have a son, Liam, a rising sixth grader who loves singing in the choir.  And most exciting for the parish, Elizabeth Marie is expecting a baby in mid-September! She will be with us for about six weeks prior to taking maternity leave and will return during Advent.  During those first weeks, she will make arrangements for supply liturgical and teaching coverage during her maternity leave, which is subsidized by the Church Pension Group disability plan for clergy.

Elizabeth Marie had long been interested in the Chapel of the Cross. During the search process, she felt drawn to the “energy and possibility and excitement” that were an indication to her of how God might be moving at the Chapel of the Cross at this moment in time. “I knew this was the place for me when I didn’t want the interview to end!” she said.

“That the parish was open to calling a female rector who also happened to be pregnant, communicated something,” Elizabeth Marie said. “Their willingness to go in that direction while remaining authentic to their roots showed that they were asking themselves what new ministry might be emerging for the parish and how to express it.”

The call came after a 10-month search process, which included numerous meetings of the search committee, review of 27 applicants from 20 states, and intensive video and face-to-face interviews of 13 candidates.  Members of the committee also visited Denver to observe Elizabeth Marie in her current position.

Dick Taylor thanked the entire parish and its leadership for their contributions to the successful search for a new rector. “The parish-wide process of defining who we are and what we want resulted in thousands of individual expressions of what was important to us,” he said.   “Those thoughts were transformed by the profile writing committee, search committee and vestry into a parish profile that set forth our vision of the Chapel of the Cross going forward – focused on worship, outreach and a supportive community.  An outstanding pool of candidates responded to that vision and the search committee reviewed applications, interviewed candidates, and finally the vestry has called the next rector of the Chapel of the Cross – Elizabeth Marie Melchionna.”

Senior warden and search committee member Melody Savage also noted the importance of the parish’s input into the process. “Elizabeth Marie’s calm centeredness, her intellect, and her warmth impressed everyone during her interview. Although other candidates were very impressive in many regards, we agreed unanimously that Elizabeth Marie’s skills and personality are those that will support our parish in living into the vision for The Chapel of the Cross that we articulated in that profile.”

The process was gratifying to all involved. “It was truly a spiritual discernment and we unanimously agreed that she was ‘the one’,” said search committee member Leigh Ann Dasher.

Vestry member Syd Alexander said he is quite excited. “Elizabeth Marie is academically gifted, experienced in a university setting, and passionate about her ministry,” he said.

“Elizabeth Marie has all the strengths I hoped to find in our new rector,” said search committee member Joe Ferrell, “leadership experience, pastoral sensitivity, communication skills (including preaching), and familiarity with the ethos of a university community.”

Plans are being laid for welcoming gatherings during August for attendees at all three Sunday services.  There will be an installation ceremony for the new rector shortly after her arrival.  We will hold a full-out celebration of new ministry upon her return from maternity leave.

The vestry wishes to extend special gratitude to associate priests Tammy Lee and Vicky Jamieson-Drake, archdeacon Bill Joyner, and interim rector Robert Davenport for their steadfast pastoral care and liturgical leadership during the transition period.  Robert’s last Sunday at Chapel of the Cross is July 31, when we will hold a farewell event following the 10 am service.

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Live, it’s the COTC profile!

Our parish profile is up and running on the Diocesan website, on its page for the Office of Transition Ministry.  You can take a look at this link:


The profile is also available on various sites across the country, including the national church site and the Transition Ministries Conference.   It will be posted now through May 1.


The listing features the parish profile, a link to our website, the search status, and a link to Catherine Massey, Canon of Transition and Pastoral Ministries at the Diocese, who is the contact person for our search.


Right now we are “receiving names.”   If you have names of persons you think would be interested in our search, encourage them to go to this link, where they can express interest in the position, find out more about us, and apply to be our next Rector.


Dick Taylor

Search Committee Chair

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Vestry Nominees

Ten members of the congregation have offered themselves to stand for vestry election.  Advisory ballots will be mailed to each eligible voter in the parish by Friday of next week.  Information on each candidate is below.  This information will also be included with each ballot, posted on the home page, and available on Cross Roads blog. Ballots must be returned to the church by 5 pm February 19. The parish meeting to elect the new vestry, either by acclamation or final balloting, will take place Sunday, February 21, between services in the Great Hall.

You are eligible to vote and to stand for election if you are an enrolled, confirmed, adult (16 years or older) member in good standing of the Chapel of the Cross, also denoted as BCCA16+.

If you are looking at your membership status in COTC Connect, BCCA16+ stands for a baptized, confirmed, communicant, 16 or older.  Parishioner means someone who is active in the parish and has a strong affiliation, but is not a baptized, confirmed member.  Call us if you are interested learning how to become BCCA.  It can be as simple as transferring your letter of membership from your old church, or taking the adult inquirers classes this spring and being received by the Bishop on April 17.

For further information on our bylaws, a copy of the bylaws, and a Q&A about the vestry election process, go to the Cross Roads blog:


Gail Cloud

Transferred membership to COTC in 1982

Previous vestry service

  • Served one term on Vestry (class of 2009), member and chair of finance committee

 Current parish activities

  • Community Outreach Committee member and past chair (prepare blurbs for Sunday bulletins, coordinate Alternative Giving with Global and ABC sale subcommittee to determine recipients ) Altar Guild team captain since 80s, Altar Guild Chair four years
  • ABC sale volunteer
  • Usher

 Past parish activities

  • Served as Sunday school teacher while my children were young

 Work outside the parish

CPA; currently work as a bookkeeper for CHCCS in Pre-K/Head Start office

Areas of special interest

Finance, stewardship, and outreach


Patty Courtright

Cradle Episcopalian, COTC member since the mid-1970s

Current parish activities

  • Member of the Parish Profile Writing Committee for the current Rector search
  • Newcomers Committee: greeter for the past 9 years; head of the Shepherds Program since 2010 (after serving as a shepherd for 4 years)

Past parish activities

  • Church school teacher (4th and 5th grades) for two years
  • ABC Sale volunteer for many years, past co-chair of White Elephants

Work outside the parish

  • Worked in communications for 30 years (15 years in higher education). Retired in 2015 from UNC as director of internal communications and editor of the University Gazette.   Currently freelance writing/editing at UNC.
  • Boardmember, University Woman’s Club; sustainer with the Chapel Hill Service League; volunteer with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools CoachWrite program, North Carolinians Against Gun Violence and Everytown for Gun Safety.

Areas of special interest

Christian formation and fellowship and engagement


Leigh Ann Dasher

Member of the Chapel of the Cross since 2009.

Current parish activities

  • Children’s Chapel Leader
  • Rector Search Committee

Past parish activities

  • Assisted in pledge drive in 2014
  • Centering Prayer Class during Lent 2014

Work outside the parish

  • President of the board at the Preschool at the Chapel of the Cross, member since since 2013
  • Trained as a lawyer; volunteer for Pro Bono legal service through Legal Aid of North Carolina

Areas of special interest

Ministry to children and families


Ann Henley

Confirmed at Chapel of the Cross in 1994

Vestry Service:

  • Vestry member 2005-2008
  • Junior Warden and chair of Stewardship Formation Committee, 2007-2008

Other Parish Activities, Past to Present:

  • Co-Chair of Annual Giving Campaign 2004, 2005
  • Lay Eucharistic Minister 2005-2008
  • Chaired Loaves and Fishes team
  • Lay Reader for 20 years:
    • Lector at 11:15 service
    • Conduct weekday Evening Prayer several times monthly
  • Member of Global Mission Committee since its inception in 2005
    • First committee chairperson
    • Coordinated 7 mission trips to Honduras
  • Chaperoned EYC 2015 mission trip; currently a Youth Inquirers’ Sponsor

 Work outside the parish

  • InterFaith Council Volunteer since 1998
    • Board of Directors 2001-2008
    • Board of Directors Chair 2006-2008
    • Currently part of COTC 4th Tuesday dinner team
    • Currently sit on Board of Directors; member Community House Advisory Committee and two FoodFirst committees
  • Recently retired after 22 years in the NC State English Department

Areas of special interest

Hospitality, youth programs, worship, global outreach.


Andrew Joyner

Member since November 2007

Current parish activities

  • Lay reader
  • parish profile committee
  • Third Monday special services

Past parish activities

  • Website committee and Facebook administrator
  • Sunday School teacher

Work outside the parish

  • Professional career in the sports and entertainment marketing and consulting industry
  • Completing Masters in Digital Media and Economics at UNC
  • Father of Thomas and Joyner son #2 (May 2016)

Areas of special interest

Fellowship, finance, outreach, music, and buildings and grounds


Doug Kelly

Joined the Chapel of the Cross in 1989.

Previous vestry service 

  • Served a term from 2009 to 2011.  Member of the the Stewardship Formation Committee for one year and chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee for two years.

Current parish activities

  • Chair of the Parish Profile Writing Committee for the Rector search process
  • Senior Choir member since 1989
  • Lector and licensed lay reader
  • Coordinator and scheduler for weekday Evening Prayer services
  • Sunday service bulletins proofreader

Past parish activities 

  • Chair of the Educational Policy Committee in the 1990s
  • Involved in projects involving ministry to university faculty

Work outside the parish

  • Retired from UNC, where I taught in the Mathematics and Statistics departments and also served terms as a department chair and an associate dean
  • Volunteer work with the IFC Homeless Shelter, Triangle Hospice, and A Helping Hand.
  • My primary hobbies are music (singing, lounge piano) and reading, and now that I’m retired I hope for more chances to travel

Areas of special interest

Liturgy and music and communications


Anna Mullikin Lorenz

Baptized (1976) and confirmed (1991) at the Chapel of the Cross

Current Parish Activities

  • 2016 ABC Sale Leadership Team (Publicity)
  • Guild of the Christ Child (since 2013)
  • Wedding Coordinator (since 2008)

Past Parish Activities

  • Coordinated the 2015 Outreach and Engagement Fair
  • Preschool at the Chapel of the Cross: parent (2009-2015), assistant treasurer (2012-2015), scholarship committee (2012-2015), and proud alumna
  • Church School teacher (2012-2013)
  • Children & Family Ministry Committee (2011-2013)
  • Altar Guild Monday flower delivery to home-bound parishioners (2007-2010)
  • Senior Choir (1999-2000)
  • ABC Sale volunteer (multiple times)
  • Growing up in the parish, I was active in the Junior Choir, EYC, and Acolytes

Work outside the parish

  • My professional experience includes work in development/membership at three university art museums (Harvard, UNC, and Duke)
  • Volunteer with the Rashkis Elementary School PTA and Girl Scout Troop 1402.

Areas of special interest

Buildings and grounds, stewardship, and engagement


David Ross

Parishioner since 1998; received as a member in 2001

Previous vestry service

  • Served four 3-year terms as a Deacon and six 3-year terms as an Elder at Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church in Durham
  • Chaired the Trinity Avenue Annual Fund for several years, served on the capital campaign planning and steering committee (1998-1999) and served on the Senior Pastor Search Committee (1997)

Current parish activities

  • Lector, Intercessor and Usher for the 7:30am service
  • Usher for funerals

Past parish activities

  • Chair of the Capital Campaign Planning Committee for the Light on the Hill Campaign
  • Coordinator of the Feasibility Study conducted prior to campaign
  • Volunteer Campaign Director for 14 months for the Light on the Hill Campaign
  • Stewardship Committee; assisted with Annual Fund as coordinator and volunteer solicitor
  • Served 3 terms on Johnson Service Corps Board and as chair of JSC Development Committee
  • Volunteer with ABC Sale
  • Served on Celebration Committee during year preceding retirement of Stephen Elkins-Williams

Work outside the parish

  • Duke University (1966-1979): Assistant Director, Director of Development, Director of Institutional Advancement and Vice President for Institutional Advancement
  • President and CEO (now retired), Ross, Johnston & Kersting, Inc. a fundraising consulting firm for nonprofit organizations and universities (30 years)
  • Member of the Board of Trustees of Durham Academy 1976-1983 (President, 3 years); and 1988-1991
  • President, Director and 50-year member of the Downtown Durham Rotary Club
  • Member of the Durham Housing Authority Board for two 3-year terms
  • Member of the Board of Visitors, Duke Law School since 2002 and active in chairing Law School class reunions
  • Ohio Wesleyan University Associate and former Development and Alumni staff member, including Assistant to the Vice President and President (4 years)
  • Member of Williamsburg Development Institute faculty (27 years)

Areas of special interest

Selection of a new rector, stewardship, planned giving, and reduction of parish debt


Dave Scocca

Transferred membership to COTC in the summer of 1996

Current parish activities

  • Usher
  • Lay Reader
  • Lay Reader Coordinator

Past parish activities

  • Usher Coordinator
  • Boy Scout Troop 9 – Committee Member and Chartered Organization Representative
  • CrossTies
  • University Ministry Committee
  • Foyer Dinners

Work outside the parish

  • Software developer, SAS programmer, and clinical data standards specialist at Rho, Inc.
  • Graduate school in political science at UNC
  • Husband to Theresa, whom I met and married at Chapel of the Cross, and father to our son Joseph.
  • Volunteer Scouter, currently serving as a Unit Commissioner in Mawat District (Durham)

Areas of special interest

Christian Formation, Youth Ministry, Worship


Mary Sullivan

Parishioner since 2008; confirmed by Bishop Curry in 2010

Current parish activities

  • Leadership team for 2016 ABC Sale
  • Member of Kitchen Guild

Past parish activities

  • ABC Sale Co-Chair for 3 of the past 5 years;
  • Hospitality team member for receptions, church dinners, etc.;
  • Vacation Church School volunteer in 2014;

Work outside the parish

  • Happily retired marketing communications manager
  • Served on homeowner association board during transition from developer-management to owner -management
  • Avid mahjongg player
  • Foreign travel enthusiast

Areas of special interest

Hospitality, newcomer welcome and engagement, inreach

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Rector Search Committee Update

From search committee chair Dick Taylor:

Parishioners frequently ask me — “What is going on in the Rector search?”  — underscoring how much we all care about this process and need to communicate with one another about it.

The search committee intends to communicate regularly with the vestry and the congregation, at least monthly, or more often as we have news to report.

It may not seem like much is happening, but rest assured that progress is being made.   The first and most significant step was the October congregation-wide conversation about who we are, what we value, and what we hope for in the future.   Hundreds of parishioners contributed thousands of individual sticky-notes or survey responses with their thoughts and hopes for this process.

In early November, the vestry, search committee and profile writing committee met together to review your input in light of the format for the parish profile which is, in effect, our job announcement.  It was a wonderful, if somewhat chaotic, exercise in which we reached shared understandings about the importance of worship and music, outreach and social ministry, and Christian community to the people of the Chapel of the Cross.

It was clear that we are proud of our church and love it deeply, while at the same time share a sense that we want to be more – A Light on the Hill.

It then became the task of Doug Kelly and the members of the profile writing committee to faithfully capture that information and insight, and draft a parish profile for consideration by the search committee and the vestry.  They skillfully completed their task on time in mid-December.   Thanks go to Patty Courtright, Andrew Joyner, Doug Kelly, Ted Vaden, Eliza Wolff, and Robert Wright for their excellent work.

The search committee met this week to work with the parish profile and review a likely timetable for the process going forward.   We will be meeting regularly, at least monthly, going forward.  Search committee members are Virginia Carson, Leigh Ann Dasher, David Dodson, Joe Ferrell, Sarah Hybels, James Moeser, Melody Savage, Dick Taylor, and Kevin Trapani.

We intend to submit the parish profile to the vestry for a first reading at its January meeting, and for adoption at the February meeting.

On March 1, we will “go live!”   Our profile will be posted on the websites of the parish, the national church, the Diocese, and several Episcopal consortia for sharing job announcements and applications for clergy positions.   This is the window in which positions are often posted and where interested candidates respond to those announcements.  The months of March and April will be somewhat quiet for us, as aspirants for our position send their information to the Diocese, background checks occur, and the Diocese gathers applicants for our consideration.

On or around May 1, we will receive our applications.   We are told that ours will be a very attractive position, and we should expect a pool of highly-qualified applicants.   In May and June, the search committee will screen the applicants, conduct on-line interviews, interview a smaller number in person, and finally select a candidate for presentation to the vestry.  The vestry will then interview the candidate and decide whether to issue a call.

If all goes well we will call a Rector in late summer to begin work in the fall.

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The most meaningful experience possible

Ellen Cole will be expanding her role as kitchen manager to include the duties of parish life coordinator.

Long a priority of the vestry, the parish life coordinator position was a strong recommendation of the strategic ministry and mission plan adopted in 2013.  Broadly put, the parish life coordinator focuses on fellowship and engagement for  parishioners, newcomers, and community groups. She manages and motivates volunteers, develops fellowship opportunities, and coordinates special events.  She is a resource for newcomers who want to get involved and acts as a matchmaker between parishioners and volunteer opportunities.

Ellen brings the experience of a long volunteer career — in her hometown of Asheville, at Appalachian State, in Winston-Salem, and in Chapel Hill — to her work with us.  She thinks that this time of transition is also a time of great opportunity.

“We can rejoice in a remarkable past,” she said, “but we are also asking ‘What if?’  I want to be the liaison between ‘What if?’ and ‘Wow, that was wonderful.'”

Some of the “what ifs” on Ellen’s list: a family movie night, an Epiphany celebration with a bonfire and banjo, homemade cookies ready all the time, volunteer parishioner teams cooking for ECM and other groups, and a parish retreat weekend.  She will be showcasing current COTC projects and introducing you to the parishioners who run them.  If you have an idea for an activity or event, she can help you find others interested in joining you.

Ellen will also be monitoring the talents and interests section of COTC Connect, which now lists all the activities in Finding Your PlaceMany of you registered with COTC Connect in order to make your 2016 pledge, but you can also update your contact information, upload a family photo, and check off your interests while in this section of our website.

Ellen’s work in the kitchen will continue, where she trains new kitchen users, orders supplies and equipment, and manages kitchen volunteers.  Her monthly Kitchen Notes column brings everyone inside the busy world of the COTC kitchen.

Ellen acknowledges that the desired result of the strategic plan in creating her role was to facilitate more engagement in current activities and to plan events that appeal to our large, diverse congregation.  She has another goal in mind as well: “The best part of my new role  is that I get to meet many of you, and I hope, help each of you have the most meaningful experience possible at the Chapel of the Cross together with others in our parish family!”

The vestry approved the parish life coordinator position as part of the 2016 budget.  The vestry will adopt the full budget at its meeting this month.  The revenue line for that budget comes from your pledges.  Sunday is in-gathering Sunday — please make a pledge online through COTC Connect, fill out the pledge card you received in the mail, or pick up a pledge card in your pew on Sunday and put it in the offering plate.  Join your fellow parishioners for celebratory cake in the Great Hall following the 9 am service and pick up your Together button at the front desk!

Engage, renew, transform. Together. It all begins with COTC Connect and the online community. 

To make a pledge, start by going to our website and clicking on COTC Connect.  If you haven’t registered yet, start by “finding yourself” in our database. Then set up your login and password. There are complete instructions on the website, plus immediate access to people on the staff who can help you. You need to be able to access your email to receive the login information.

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Holiday Kitchen Notes

Tradition. Together.

So much of this time of year revolves around tradition. We eagerly anticipate spending comforting and familiar time with our friends and families as the holidays draw near. The Chapel of the Cross family is no exception!

On December 13, we will we gather together between the 9:00 and 11:15 Advent Lessons and Carols services for a festive reception. This is our largest reception of the year. Nancy McGuffin and I will be in the kitchen and we welcome more hands to help! I have set up a sign up genius to make it easy for all:
Please follow this link and sign up to bring a sweet or a savory to share and/or volunteer to help in the kitchen. We always have a grand time in the kitchen!
Another tradition we will enjoy again this year, is on Christmas Eve. After the 5:00 pm pageant, stop by the Great Hall for light refreshments and a visit with fellow parishioners. My family hosts this reception and we welcome donations of goodies to share. Please drop items off before the 5:00 pm service.
Lest we get too comfortable in established tradition, we have scheduled a new event for this year. ‘Breaking up Christmas’is a mountain celebration to honor Old Christmas or Epiphany. Historically, it is celebrated by large house parties, large bonfires fueled by the Christmas greens (and maybe a little moonshine), multiple bands and the shooting of guns at midnight. While we won’t go that far, we do invite everyone to a potluck supper, a ‘bonfire’on the patio and music in the Great Hall on Wednesday, January 6. We will gather around 5:00 pm and finish up in time for the Junior Choir to be ready to sing at the Solemn Eucharist at 7:00 pm, or in time for little ones to get home to bed! This is going to be a casual, festive party. Please bring a dish to share. As always, friends are welcome!
Mark your calendars now so you don’t miss any of our traditions, old and new, as we celebrate this joyful season, together.
– Ellen Cole

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Find Yourself on COTC Connect

Thanks so much to those of you who have registered on COTC Connect.

To register you need to “find yourself” in the database and set up your login and password. Start here or if you are on the homepage of the website, click where it says “Join COTC Connect.” There are complete instructions on the website, plus immediate access to people on the staff who can help you. You need to be able to access your email to receive the login information.

If you update or change your contact info, it’s not immediate-we will usually approve your changes as soon as we see them, but if it’s over a weekend, for example, it could take a couple of days.

If you can’t find yourself, be sure you’ve added any suffix-like Jr. or III.  If you still can’t find yourself, please call or email us at the number or link provided.  We will help you!

If you are a newcomer, we may need to formally enter you into the database and determine your membership status.  Call us!

Once you are registered, please make a pledge!  If you are making a 2016 pledge, be sure to enter 2016 dates.  COTC Connect will guide you.

You may also make a contribution or pay on your pledge to other funds: Light on Hill (development fund), Chapel Restoration (capital fund), or make a donation in memory of someone (memorial fund).  If you want to donate flowers for the altar, please use the link on our website.

Questions about your membership status?  BCCA16+ means a baptized, confirmed, communicant, 16 or older-you can run for vestry and vote in vestry elections.  Parishioner means someone who is active in the parish and has a strong affiliation, but is not a baptized, confirmed member.  Call us if you are interested learning how to become BCCA.  It can be as simple as transferring your letter of membership from your old church, or taking the adult inquirers classes this spring and being received by Bishop Anne when she visits in April.

The information that appears in the online directory is the same as in the old hard copy directory: name, address, preferred phone, and email.  No sensitive information is visible to anyone else.  You may opt out of the directory and no one will be able to see anything about you.

To download the ChurchLife app, search for Churchlife on your phone’s app store.  Once it’s downloaded, you can use the app to donate (but not make a pledge) and search the directory and parish calendar.

Finally, if you “report a problem” please know that you are writing directly to members of your COTC administrative staff.  We are people, interested in making this work, not the cable company!

COTC Connect is the Chapel of the Cross online community that will enable you to:

  • Make pledges and donations and set up recurring payments on your credit card or through your checking account
  • Check your membership status
  • View your contribution record
  • Find outreach and serving opportunities and register for trips and events
  • Access the online directory and upload a photo
  • Download the ChurchLife App to donate and search the directory and parish calendar on your smart phone

Starting November 15, volunteers will be available at the front desk to help you download the app, upload a photo to the directory, and otherwise organize your information. We will even take a photo of you and your family if you need one.

Engage, renew, transform. Together. It all begins with COTC Connect and the online community.

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Engage, Renew, Transform. Together.

What an audacious time this is at The Chapel of the Cross! From our inspiring new and renewed buildings and the many ways they are used every day (and night) of the week, to the gracious and, at times, raucous celebrations of Stephen’s rich ministry, we have had wonderful blessings in this past year together. This great church sustains us in so many ways. It is a place to celebrate life’s most precious milestones, to enjoy the fellowship of friends, to feed our souls through education and service and to grieve together the loss of loved ones.

We have engaged deeply in the life of this parish. We have renewed the church — and our shared community of faith has renewed us. We’re transforming our vision of what’s possible (recently, I’ve heard, “Why not valet parking?” “Why not some other appropriate music?” and, even, echoing Bishop Curry, “Why not end hunger and homelessness?”)

We have committed to this journey individually and, importantly, together. Many of you have told me you feel closer today to your church family than ever before. Working side by side in faith and fellowship, we’re charting the way ahead for our parish. We’re building deeper spiritual ties to the University and the wider community. We’re grateful for and supportive of our clergy and staff, who are both leading and following us through this profound change process.

As our interim rector, Robert Davenport, reflecting on last Sunday’s gospel, shared with us last week: “This is a time to take a deep breath, to listen, to refocus. When Jesus paused, the crowd said to Bartimaeus ‘take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ That is not bad advice. This can be a time for the Chapel of the Cross to take heart, to rise up and listen for where the Good Lord might be calling you.”

Now, it’s our time to act to sustain the good and growing work of our church. It’s our time to honor Stephen by committing financially to our cause – ensuring his work goes on. It’s our time to demonstrate to a potential new rector that we understand our obligations here: this is our church and its expenses are our expenses.

Simply sustaining our current level of mission calls for all of us to renew our support at our 2015 level and for new supporters to replace those who have moved or whose financial circumstances have changed. As you probably know, we will also have new expenses next year: we must budget for the rector search process, pay debt service on the new parish hall, and replenish the funds used to restore the chapel.

We will also follow the lead of the diocese to cover full family health insurance premiums for both lay and clergy employees. For those of us who can, an increase in the 5-10% range would be very, very helpful and would send an unmistakable signal: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Our hearts are in this church. Now, we are called to act accordingly at the level and in the ways each of us can afford.

This call for operating support for the church is different in many ways than in the past. First, the public “campaign” will last only a month. After ingathering Sunday on December 6, there will be no calls to beg for pledge cards… This year, if we haven’t heard from you, we’ll assume you want to renew your support at your 2015 level. Of course, if you want to increase, decrease or otherwise change your support, please let us know.

Second, we are introducing COTC Connect, a new online community that will be the way to make a pledge, set up recurring or make one-time payments, view your contribution record, check your membership status, and access the church directory. You can also download the ChurchLife App to donate or contact others through the directory on your smart phone. The first step is to register, so watch for information on how to sign up and join.

If paying your pledge in monthly installments enables you to give that 5-10% more in total (’rounding up”), we’d certainly be grateful for the additional support. Certainly, monthly “thanksgiving sustainers” are great for the church’s cash flow, because our parish expenses run evenly throughout the year.

Of course, you can also return your pledge card by mail or place it in the offering plate Sunday morning. Your pledge of financial support will enable us to live fully into these important and exciting times at The Chapel of the Cross.  Please consider prayerfully what you can give back for all that God has given you and join us in supporting this blessed place. Thank you for all you do to make our church a place of beauty, vitality and comfort.

Kevin A. Trapani
Junior Warden

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October Vestry Actions

At its meeting on October 15, the Vestry:

  • Approved a motion from the Finance Committee to update the list of ‘managers’ for the parish account at BB&T.
  • Approved a motion from the Finance Committee to withdraw $300,000 from the parish account with the Common Trust Fund of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.

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The Senior Warden’s Remarks at the Reception, October 11, 2015

We are gathered here this morning to give thanks for the thirty-year ministry of Stephen Elkins-Williams as our Rector and to say a fond farewell to Stephen and Betsy as they begin a new life away from this parish which has been the center of their lives for thirty years.

It is appropriate that we are gathered here in the Great Hall, for it was Steve’s vision that we should have a space big enough – great enough – if you will, to hold the entire congregation for a moment like this. How many times already have we said to each other – “How did we ever get by without this wonderful space?” Seeing us all together here this morning is, once more, proof of the validity of Steve’s vision.

Because the Light on the Hill Campaign really reflected Steve’s vision, and because of several gifts to that campaign in Steve and Betsy’s honor, the Vestry decided to dedicate this hall, as the plaque outside the door states, “To the Glory of God and in honor of Stephen Elkins-Williams, Rector of this Church from 1985-2015, and Betsy Elkins-Williams.” I hope that you also saw the beautiful photographic portrait of Steve hanging in the hallway just outside the entrance to this hall.

Before saying more about Steve, I do want to pause and ask you to thank Ted Vaden and the Celebration Committee for planning all of the events leading up to this day and this day itself. It is a wonderfully joyous occasion for us to be all together, to celebrate our love for this church, and our love for Steve and Betsy. Thank you, Ted, and the Celebration Committee.

I think most of us realize that thirty-year Rectorates are almost unheard of in the Episcopal Church. However, I submit to you that it is not the length of his service that is so outstanding, but rather the depth of his service and leadership.

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. I think Fitzgerald must have been thinking about Steve.

Steve has been leading a congregation for thirty years that is seriously divided. Divided not about liturgy – high versus low church; not about theology, evangelical or orthodox; not about any of the things that can and do cause dissension in a church, but about basketball. Steve may just be the only person I know who can be equally at home in Cameron Indoor Stadium or the Dean E. Smith Center. Somehow, he sees no conflict in what most of would regard as the most bizarre form of ecumenism in the world. I suppose it is his Jesuit training – this ability to be utterly at peace in a context that would find most of us in a state of extreme anxiety.

It is that same spirit that he brought to being the shepherd of this flock. No conflict that we could imagine – about carpet or other controversial floor coverings, gay unions, or political divisions, could disturb the quiet equanimity of someone who could be for both Carolina and Duke. (It is a good thing that blue is not a liturgical color, so that he never had to decide which blue.

So, today, we have to say goodbye to our faithful shepherd. We say goodbye and Godspeed to you and Betsy.We are grateful for all of the blessings you have given us – including your wonderful farewell sermon this morning (copies of which are available to us as we leave this morning, another example of his thoughtfulness to us), and so on behalf of the people of the Chapel of the Cross, I offer this benediction to you, Stephen and Betsy:

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. Amen.

And now let us stand and sing the Doxology, and as we sing, I am going to ask Steve and Betsy and Peter and Tyler to make their way to the Parlor, where you may go to have a personal word with them. I ask that you form a line in the hallway toward the Parlor and exit the Parlor through the double doors back into the Great Hall.

Now , let us sing.

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