Important Announcement from Fr. Greg and Mo. Jenna
Dear People of God at Holy Trinity,
I have accepted a call to serve as rector of St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church in Smyrna, GA. As excited as I am to begin a new ministry, I deeply grieve leaving this parish and you, whom I love. St. Benedict’s is a young parish-- 12 years old!-- and about the same size on a Sunday as Holy Trinity. I will be their second rector, and one of the things I kept finding myself drawn to in discerning with them is the chance to co-create a lasting, healthy parish culture as they “set” their DNA. And I realize how much of what I think of as “lasting, healthy parish culture” is defined by Holy Trinity.
When Greg hired me as a curate over eight years ago, I was not yet ordained a priest; he was still new to this parish, and neither of us knew the other well. I remember him saying he hoped I’d stay two or three years, and I thought that seemed like a long time to commit! It’s unusual for a curate/associate to stay in a call for as long as I have; but the continued call I’ve had to serve Holy Trinity has been genuine and joyful, and we have borne good fruit together. I believe that my call to St. Benedict’s in this moment is equally genuine. As I’ve discerned with them, it’s clear that much of what I bring in my ministry there are gifts and skills I’ve learned from you, Holy Trinity: stability and faithfulness, a desire to forge deeper relationships with Jesus and with one another, and a heart to serve their city and neighborhood.
You have blessed me in so many ways: baptisms and burials, hospital visits and swim meets, singing with gusto, bags of food for hungry neighbors and clothes for migrants, seeking the risen Lord in our midst, sharing your most painful and most celebratory moments, dwelling in the mysteries of word and sacrament, countless cups of coffee, Vacation Bible School crafts, letting me fangirl endlessly about St. Paul, the absolute joy of working with Greg, Sarah, Will, and Amanda, laughter and meals together, reading John’s gospel with the most theologically brilliant middle schoolers, and the holiness of high feast days. We have lived our lives in Christ alongside and with each other; you taught me how to be a priest.
My last Sunday at Holy Trinity will be December 27, the first Sunday after Christmas. After that date, I will not be available for baptisms, weddings, funerals, or pastoral care, and I will be quiet on your social media posts for a year or so. This is to ensure that there is room for your next priest to bring her or his gifts to this parish, and for me to develop full pastoral relationships with the people of St. Benedict’s: in short, to allow for new fruit to come forth. Before I finish my time with Holy Trinity, we’ll find some ways to say goodbye well, even within the covid-guidelines to which we’ll hold: those opportunities are listed below (please be sure to click "view entire message", otherwise the email might get cut off). I ask you, in the weeks to come, to please pray for me and for St. Benedict’s; be assured I will continue to pray for you.
This is one of my favorite prayers; it’s used on Good Friday, at the Easter Vigil, and at ordinations. I often pray it in times of change; I’ve been praying it all year, and continue to pray it now.
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Yours in Christ,
Dear People of Holy Trinity,
Eight years ago I called Jenna Strizak to serve at Holy Trinity as curate and later associate rector. Since then you have helped form her into the extraordinary priest we all know her to be, including witnessing and hosting her ordination to the priesthood. Over those same eight years she has served this parish with true distinction, integrity, and faithfulness. Her pastoral care of so many in good times and bad has left a lasting impact on our parish, and I think her greatest legacy here will be the theological depth and pastoral sensitivity she brought to our children. Personally, she has become one of my deepest and most trusted friends.
And now it is time to say goodbye. Jenna has accepted the call to be rector of St. Benedict’s in Smyrna and I believe this is a wonderful and true call for both Jenna and St. Benedict’s. The needs that young parish have identified are a great match for the strengths that Jenna has developed at Holy Trinity.
You will see details in the body of the email about the next few weeks of transition but I need to mention an important way that we can help Mother Jenna.
After she leaves on Christmas 1 (Dec. 27th) it will not be appropriate to reach out to her for either pastoral or personal reasons. Mother Jenna will not be available to members of Holy Trinity for weddings or funerals, visits or counsel. This is an important part of her her being able to commit fully to her pastoral leadership of St. Benedict’s and it is an important step in Holy Trinity moving forward into her own future.
One challenge priests and parishes now face is knowing whether we should stay connected via email, text, or social media. While there are no official policies, the best practice (and again, a great gift to Mother Jenna) is to commit to a full year of separation, especially on social media. When I left my last parish I “unfollowed” all the folks from there for at least a year and it helped me focus on getting to know all those wonderful new faces at Holy Trinity.
But before we worry about policies and separation, let’s take this next month to say goodbye and congratulations to our beloved priest, Mother Jenna Strizak.
As you can watch and read in this email, Mother Jenna has accepted a call to be the rector of St. Benedict’s in Smyrna. Congratulations, Mother Jenna and St. Benedict’s! Her last Sunday with us will be Christmas 1 (Dec. 27).
Here are some opportunities to say goodbye and to give her a gift.
- Mother Jenna loves receiving personal notes and letters and has asked for notes from anyone who is willing to write her. You can email her using her parish email address through December 31, mail a note to her at Holy Trinity, or to her home address (available on Realm).
- Jenna will be present at all our Wednesday 11 a.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. services through December 27.
- Jenna will host the virtual coffee hour on Advent 4 (December 20) following the 10:30 service.
- Children of the parish and families are invited for Hot Chocolate and Christmas Stories on Advent 4 (December 20) at 4 p.m. on the plaza.
- Christmas 1 (December 27) will be Jenna’s last Sunday.
- She will preach at the 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. services and we will have a leave-taking liturgy at 1 p.m. as part of our worship.
- There will be an “open plaza” walk-up time from 2-4 p.m.
- The youth of the parish will have a Bible study and farewell with her at 5:30 p.m.
- In addition to personal letters if you would like to make a love offering to her you may do either by check, Realm (select the "Love Offerings" option in the "Fund" drop down menu), or our website (select the "Love Offerings" option in the "Fund" drop down menu).
Tags: Who We Are