We at Messiah are called to share the joy in our hearts. We seek to live in the power of the Spirit, welcoming all into our parish family. We strive to be a people who are both comforted by God’s love and challenged to live lives of service to the world. The Church of the Messiah, located in the historic village of Rhinebeck, NY, 80 miles north of Manhattan, is seeking a rector with a passion for pastoral care and service who will help us to find our identity and build on our spirit in the coming years.
In an effort to make sure our entire congregation is part of the search process for a new rector and what we wish to become as a parish, the Search Committee developed and distributed a questionnaire to the 274 households in the congregation. We had a 40% return rate. The committee then invited the congregation to participate in one of two “World Café” events (www.theworldcafe.com). Using the responses to the questionnaire as a guide, World Café participants were asked to discuss in more detail four topics: 1) what the Church of the Messiah means to them, 2) what they wish it to become, 3) what the most pressing needs of the church are and 4) what they are looking for in a new rector. Our profile is a compilation of these discussions, supplemented with an overview of church activities and our outreach programs, financial information, history and community information.
The Search Committee consists of 11 parishioners-Kris Perry (Chairman), Marlene Alexander, John Austrian, Bob Burns, Michele Fox (vestry member), Tom Heller, Mel Ickes, Leanora Kovacs (vestry member), Josette Lee, Joy Lee Packert and Susan Rohrmeier. We have attempted to represent the full spectrum of our congregation. If, after reviewing our parish profile, you wish to be considered for the rector’s position, please submit:
- Your resume
- Your updated Church Deployment Office (CDO) Profile
- A cover letter indicating the best and most confidential ways to contact you. Please be assured that any materials you submit will be treated with respect and confidentiality.
Please submit the above information to:
Church of the Messiah
P.O. Box 428 Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Attn: Kris Perry
Thank you for taking the time to learn about our parish. Whether you decide to apply or not, we wish you well and will keep you in our prayers.
Who We Have Been
From a church with fixed pew rents of $8 to $20, depending on the location of the pew, to offering a “Mad Dash,” an annual road race, and various outreach programs, the Church of the Messiah has grown and transformed with the Rhinebeck community. The first Episcopal worship service in Rhinebeck was held on February 13, 1831. On August 8, 1852, the Church of the Messiah was organized and incorporated. The cornerstone of the original building was laid on September 16, 1852 and the structure was completed and occupied the following year. By the early 1890′s, the congregation had grown in numbers, and the existing church building needed extensive renovations. The architects Hoppin & Koen from New York City designed the new church in the Gothic Revival style; the cornerstone of the present Church of the Messiah was laid July 7, 1897. Douglas Merritt donated a bell to the church as a thank offering for the safe return of his daughter who served as a nurse with the French army during World War I. The pipe organ was built specially for the church by E.M. Skinner and donated by Captain Vincent Astor in 1921. In the 1990′s, three new memorial stained glass windows were installed to go along with the historic stained glass windows that had been donated over the years by parishioners. New protective glazing was installed over all the stained glass windows, and the Susan Watts Street Memorial window by LaFarge was restored. In 2002, as a thank offering for our first 150 years as a parish, carillons were installed. They proclaim our faith and unity as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to the village and to all who pass through. For a detailed history of the Church of Messiah, its organization, past rectors, architecture, the stained glass windows, the organ and the carillons, please go to www.rhinebeck-episcopal.org.
Who We Are Now
We are a congregation that believes in expressing its love of our Lord Jesus Christ through worship, personal prayer and action. The services are open and inviting with a relaxed atmosphere while maintaining the majesty and decorum of the Episcopal traditions. Members of the congregation approach tasks and challenges in a prayerful manner asking the Lord to lead us, protect us and guide us. The congregation takes action when needs arise whether through established outreach programs or by immediate direct response. There are varied social activities in which all parishioners can participate including: progressive dinners, movie nights, lectures, game nights, picnics, an annual flea market and other special events. Messiah is a very welcoming congregation. Our fervent wish is that all individuals are accepted for who they are and the talents they bring. Demographic Profile
|Total communicants in good standing (Parochial Report) 620|
|Communicants in good standing under age 16 122|
|Sunday School enrollment 78|
|Average Sunday attendance (2 services) 216|
|Easter attendance 349|
|Confirmations older than 16 12|
|Confirmations under age 16 19|
Worship at our church
Services are held Sunday mornings at 8:00 and 10:00. The 8:00 service follows the Rite I tradition, while the 10:00 service follows Rite II. Sunday School begins at 9:45, with the children joining the service around 10:30. The choir sings at the 10:00 service. Holy Communion services are held in Tyler Chapel Thursday mornings at 9:00. During Holy Week, there is a Maundy Thursday service at 9:00 a.m. followed by a reverent Foot Washing at 7:00 p.m. On Good Friday a 3:00 service is held. For the Easter Vigil on Saturday, there is an evening service at 7:00. Two services, one at 8:00 and one at 10:00 are celebrated on Easter Sunday.
Committees & Program Highlights
The Church of the Messiah has many of the traditional committees found at most Episcopal churches: Altar Guild, Vestry, Stewardship, Chaplaincy, Acolytes and Spirit and Community. Spirit and Community includes a number, but not all, of the activities that connect the our church to the larger community. There are five programs that epitomize the spirit of this church. There are many activities that are part of our outreach, but the following examples distinguish the congregation in their purpose, generosity, ecumenical nature and impact.
Mad Dash–Held on Labor Day, the Mad Dash is an annual road race with over 600 runners participating from throughout the Northeast. In 2008, the Mad Dash raised over $11,000 for outreach programs at the Church of the Messiah. Funds from the Mad Dash and the ECW enable us to support two Nicaraguan ministries (including the Mid-Hudson Sister City Project), the Dutchess Coalition for the Homeless, Food for the Poor, a special prison ministry for women, the Today Group of Family Services, the Northern Dutchess Caregivers, the Rural and Migrant Ministry and the Crop Walk.
Cuddle Blanket–Each year since 2001, members of the parish and several non-members, create blankets for every child attending Ramapo for Children in Rhinebeck. Camp Ramapo serves more than 400 children with special needs with a focus on the development of positive social and learning skills. The project is combined effort with other local churches and to date, over 2,700 blankets have been distributed. In 2008, the Cuddle Blanket project was recognized by the United Way.
Third Thursday Lunch–This group has been operating for the past two years. On every third Thursday from October to May, lunch is held to benefit a local charitable organization. Recipients are generally underfunded groups that have been nominated by a parish member involved with the group. The $5.00 lunch has become a local social event, providing senior citizens a chance to go out, have lunch, socialize and to help someone else. To date, over $7,500 has been raised for local causes. Food Pantry–The Food Pantry serves approximately 30 families each month. The volunteers who run the pantry are an ecumenical group consisting of parish members, as well as non-members. This year, a garden has been planted to provide fresh, organic vegetables each week.
ESL–the English as a Second Language group is another example of an ecumenical activity sponsored by Church of the Messiah. It began in 2006 when the church agreed to provide space for classes supported the Latino ministry program of St. Margaret’s in Staatsburg. Seven tutors instruct students twice a week. Most of the current enrollment is Latino with one Vietnamese student. The teachers are parish members and other volunteers, including a high school student and a college student.
There are 78 children enrolled in Sunday School, which has five age groups. The K-1, Grades 2-3, and Grades 3-4 follow the Godly Play curriculum. The Pre-K class and the middle school group follow the more traditional Episcopal curriculum. The teachers are a dedicated group of volunteers. In addition to teaching classes, the Sunday School does two children’s services and a Christmas pageant. In the summertime, the Church of the Messiah participates in Vacation Bible School with Third Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church in Rhinebeck. Each year, the location rotates among the churches. There are 40-60 children attending the program, which is centered around a Bible verse theme. There are stories, games, crafts and songs centered on the reinforced Bible point. Adult Education consists of a Monday evening Bible study group and a forum held between services every Sunday. The forum is an open discussion session with faith-based topics as suggested by the participants.
Our basic sources of communication are the Sunday church bulletin, our periodic newsletter “Messiah Matters,” and the Church of the Messiah website. The bulletin guides us through the service and highlights upcoming events. “Messiah Matters” also announces upcoming events, provides a calendar and more in-depth reports from the various committees. Sunday services are rebroadcast on the local public access television channel PANDA. The Search Committee has begun an effort to gather e-mail addresses from all parishioners to facilitate better communication throughout the parish family. Church Property The Church of the Messiah is located near the center of the Village of Rhinebeck at the corner of Montgomery Street and Chestnut Street. The church building consists of a sanctuary, the Tyler Chapel with a columbarium, and a choir room. Adjacent to the church is a memorial garden. The parish hall is located behind the church and has an occupancy capacity of 160. It includes a kitchen with commercial grade appliances, is air conditioned, has a hardwood floor and a stage. The hall was recently renovated, and is the center of the church’s social activities, and one of the few facilities in the area of its size and is frequently rented out. Behind the parish hall is Donegan Hall, which is home to the church offices, Sunday School classrooms, the food pantry, the Cuddle Blanket Project and a meeting area. Weigel Hall is the newest addition to the structure and houses classrooms. The rectory is adjacent to the church property facing Chestnut Street. It is a four-bedroom, two-story white colonial with a fenced yard. The church also owns a commercial property on Motgomery Street which is rented to a dry cleaner. This property is a reliable source of income for the church.
Staff In addition to our interim rector, our church has a part time administrative assistant who is in the office Monday through Friday mornings, a sexton for the church building and an organist/choirmaster.
Strengths and Areas of Concern
- Providing a Sense of Community and Welcome
Church of the Messiah wants to make sure everyone feels welcome at our table whilemaking sure no one feels unengaged, pressured or unrecognized. As a church we want to find that fine line between treating members, new and old, with a warm embrace without overwhelming them.
- Children and Families
Young families with children are an important part of our parish. While our Sunday school engages many of the younger children, we have found it increasingly difficult to retain these same children when they become young adults. We have also found it difficult to attract families with older children to our parish. We would like to strengthen our programs for children of all ages in order to keep the younger ones interested in Sunday school as they grow, and to offer stimulating spiritual programs for older children and teenagers. We understand that parents are much more likely to attend church and to become involved with youth programs when their children are enthusiastic about the church’s programs. We want all parishioners, regardless of their age, to feel they are a vital part of the church.
Through a variety of programs, our parishioners have shown that they wish to make a difference locally and globally. While we want to keep these good works going, we know that we need to increase our outreach and involve more parishioners in projects. The church needs to find new ways to communicate with our parishioners so they feel involved and connected.
- Spiritual and Personal Growth
Parishioners want to know more about their faith, themselves and one another. We are looking for spiritual paths to improvement and shared experiences to help us grow as individuals and as a parish. Whether it is Bible study, adult education or casual discussions, we want to foster more opportunities that will help to guide us in God’s love.
Who We Wish to Become
We are thankful to have a strong, growing and loving parish family. The parish has increased steadily over the past 10 years. We have had an increase in membership, an increase in our outreach efforts, more Sunday School enrollments and increased financial support. Our parish survey showed that the majority of our members are very satisfied with many aspects of our parish-they wish to see the existing worship services and outreach missions continue. This ten years of growth has allowed us to increase our ability to serve the community. We have many hopes to make Messiah even better in the future. Our parishioners have voiced their hopes and aspirations for the parish over the next five years:
- Increase our ability to serve our community–We would like to inspire people to develop a deep understanding of the Gospel teachings and to live their lives in harmony with them.
- Become even more welcoming–Everyone who walks through our doors should be greeted with a warm welcome and feel immediately at home. We hope to support each other in prayer, love and companionship as friends sharing a journey.
- Encourage diversity–We want a congregation that reflects the diversity of our community.
- Greatly expand our communications–We would like to build upon our excellent parish newsletter and website. We hope to communicate better with parishioners and the community at large.
- Increase our programs for older teens and young adults-Our teenage members would benefit from additional activities that provide them opportunities for fellowship and learning. We have a lively Sunday School program with dedicated teachers. We would like increase the number of teachers and see a larger number of parishioners helping in many different ways.
- Strengthen our financial position– would like to maintain and increase our current level of activities and services. Our goal is to have yearly pledges adequately cover operating expenses, plus additional ability to fund capital improvements.
Our Next Rector
The Church of the Messiah is a caring and spiritual community. To help us achieve our goals, we are looking for a rector with the following abilities and characteristics:
- We seek a spiritual leader who believes in a loving God. We hope to find a rector who can inspire us and help us grow more deeply in our faith.
- We seek a pastor who sees Christ in everyone. This person should be comfortable with and skilled at ministering to the emotional and spiritual needs of the parish and community in times of joy and crisis. We seek someone who can listen with compassion, counsel with tender care and discretion, behave with grace, humility, gentle humor and deep respect for others.
- We seek a preacher who engages us with sermons that are thought-provoking, pastoral and scripture-based. We look for this minister to draw compelling connections between the teachings of the Bible in a way that not only reaches people in their daily lives, but also challenges us to examine those lives.
- We seek an administrative leader who can help envision and support the development and growth of programs, particularly for children, youth and teens with an emphasis on faith development and community service. This person should be a team builder who can identify and develop lay leadership with the goal of expanding involvement of parishioners in opportunities of participation and outreach.
- We seek a stewardship leader who can impart to us a deeper understanding of stewardship and help us integrate it into every aspect of our financial planning, fund-raising and resource management. We seek a leader who possesses a working knowledge of budgets and finance, an ability to delegate effectively and to rely on the vestry for additional expertise and direction.
In sum, we seek a joyful person who will appreciate and forgive our foibles, sense our potential, appreciate our accomplishments, and support us on our individual journeys, at the same time encouraging us to connect more lovingly to each other. We look forward to welcoming our new rector into our midst with warm affection.
A Brief History of Rhinebeck: Nestled in the lush, rolling hills of Dutchess County, in the scenic Hudson River Valley, the picture book village of Rhinebeck has been called the “The Jewel of the Hudson.”
With 437 sites listed on the National Historic Register, Rhinebeck comprises one of the largest historic districts in the United States. Rhinebeck boasts eight miles of an area known as The Sixteen Mile Historic District composed of thirty contiguous riverfront estates associated with the landed aristocracy in the Hudson Valley during the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Rhinebeck was founded in 1686 as a result of a significant land transaction of 2,200 acres between four Dutchmen and six Indians of the Esopus and Sepasco tribes. The Dutch settlers called their community Kipsbergen and it was not until 1713 that the name “Ryn Beck” appeared as a result of the area’s Judge Henry Beekman’s reference to his accumulating landholdings.
The Beekman Arms, a charming country inn and restaurant, that has been welcoming travelers since it opened in 1766, is considered the oldest inn in America. “The Arms” retains a great deal of its eighteenth – and nineteenth-century character inside, where some original structural features can still be seen.
Rhinebeck has exciting year-round events and recreational opportunities. The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome is famous worldwide for its daredevil sky show and vintage World War I planes and museum. One can even take a ride in a biplane! The Dutchess County Fairgrounds host the county Fair, craft and antique shows and many other events from spring through the fall season. The Center for Performing Arts, which includes the Rhinebeck Theatre Society, plus the Bard College Music Festival, offer a wide variety of intellectual stimulation and entertainment through the seasons. Upstate Films shows the finest of international cinema.
Rhinebeck and its surrounding area are endowed with an array of places to bike, hike, fish, horseback ride, sail, boat, camp, golf, swim, cross-country and alpine ski, or just relax and enjoy the peaceful scenery. The Rhinebeck Town Landing in Rhinecliff provides waterfront views and a boat launch.
The Rhinebeck Community Center houses the Starr Library and a recreational complex consisting of a swimming pool, tennis courts, playground and ball field.
Wilderstein is an 1888 Queen Anne country home and 40 acres on the banks of the Hudson River. The house and trails are open to the public from May through October, Thanksgiving weekend and weekends in December.
With a history dating back over 300 years, year-round activities, shops restaurants and a style of casual elegance, all only ninety minutes outside Manhattan, Rhinebeck truly is the “Jewel of the Hudson.” For up-to-date, detailed information, see Rhinebeckchamber.com.
For a printable version of this parish profile, click here.
With grateful appreciation to William Lee for all photographs herein save one; blanket photo by Lisa Heller.