LETTERS FROM OUR RECTOR, THE REV. JIMMY GRACE-
With Bill Gilbert’s retirement coming up in a few months, I wanted to share with you the news regarding plans for celebrating Bill Gilbert’s ministry at St. Andrew’s. On Sunday, June 28, St. Andrew’s will celebrate Bill’s music ministry at the helm of the organ for the past 25 years. We will do this in several ways.
First, following the 10:30 am service on June 28, we will host a reception with cake and punch at St. Andrew’s House in which we will honor Bill. There will be a second celebration later that same day, as St. Andrew’s will host a dinner reception in which all past and current members of the parish are invited to join us in celebrating Bill’s musical contributions to the spiritual life of this parish. The dinner reception will be much fun, and I hope that you can join in honoring Bill’s ministry with us.
Bill’s last Sunday to play the organ (per his request) will be on Sunday, July 5. Malcolm Williams, who has played the organ here in the past when Bill was away, will play Sunday morning services throughout the end of July and all of August.
I announced to the Vestry two weeks ago, that I have hired Bill’s successor, who will begin the first Sunday of September. The hiring of this person was a result of many conversations with organists and choirmasters from around the Diocese and across Texas. I am very grateful for their counsel, suggestions, and for their assistance during this process. The person who will be succeeding Bill on the organ will also serve as St. Andrew’s new choirmaster. This is a change, of course, from our recent past, where we have had a separate organist and choirmaster.
Before Bill announced his intent to retire, I shared with both Henry and Bill my desire to consolidate the Organist and Choirmaster positions into a position for one, rather than two, people. This new position will start out as a half-time position, with the possibility of growing into full time, if or when such need arises.
Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to disclose the name of St. Andrew’s new organist and choirmaster, as parishioners at this individual’s current parish are not aware of this news yet. I do look forward to sharing more information about this person with you all during the month of June. I can share, however, that this person is well experienced in working with children’s choirs, and is looking forward to beginning a children’s choir at St. Andrew’s.
I am grateful to Henry Washington and his consistent and unwavering support throughout this process. Henry has faithfully served this parish for two years as choirmaster, and I am grateful for his tenure. He has told me time and time again of his desire to provide a smooth transition for the new organist and choirmaster. Henry’s humility, desire to serve, and flexibility with this process is but one indication of his graciousness and wisdom. We all wish him well.
At the time of this writing, I do not yet know the final date that Henry will be with us as Choirmaster, but am able to share with you that Elizabeth Lutz will serve as choirmaster during the month of August. I feel that it is important to build in a margin between two people serving in a ministry. For both Bill and Henry, that margin will occur during the month of August, when Malcolm plays the organ and Elizabeth directs the choir (though technically the choir will be on vacation, of course).
This transition will conclude when the new organist and choirmaster is here with us for the first Sunday in September. I know very well that transitions are both opportunities for excitement and anxiety in churches. It is a true testament to both Bill and Henry’s leadership that the transition of music staff at St. Andrew’s has been as smooth as it has. Though we will be in transition together over the coming months, both Bill and Henry have provided a carefully and well thought out path for us. For them, and for you, I am grateful!