It quite simply means we are self sufficient and not receiving support from the diocese. It is a coming of age moment in the life of this congregation and one that shows both the longevity and viability of this church. With such a shift comes signs and symbols to represent this very fact.
The Bishop’s Committee, as their name signifies, is under the direct leadership of the Bishop who is the head of the congregation until they become a parish wherein a priest is no longer a vicar in his stead but a rector entrusted with the growing needs and responsibilities of the thriving church. In fact, when such a milestone is reached the newly formed Vestry, as they will be called, is charged with calling the rector. The vicar functions by appointment of the bishop, whereas the rector is called by the mutual discernment of the bishop and the congregation.
A formal act of transition comes when the new rector is instituted as such in the presence of the congregation. Such a service is only held in parishes and, Lord willing, will be done late next year! I hope that if I have served you well, I will continue to be with you as your first rector. In that service the bishop presents the rector with the symbols of such the office. He presents him with a Bible, bread and wine, catechism, a book of common prayer, and water all of which are visible signs of his ministry to God’s people. Additionally, the keys of the building are handed over as the church is physically entrusted into the care of his charge in conjunction with the elected lay leaders of the parish (if you are curious you may the full institution of a rector service here under the Episcopal Services heading).
It is a momentous occasion in the life of a church that shows that such a people, such a place, and such a ministry have grown to support and continue in that mission. The parish presses on in the teaching, baptizing, and administration of the sacraments to which it is called so that it may flourish and thrive for generations to come. My friends, we stand at the precipice of such a moment. A moment wherein we press further into the calling of Christ Jesus upon Saint Barnabas to be disciples who make disciples and to further grow, excel, and move forward in mission in North Fort Worth and, in time, beyond!