Saint Michael & All Angels Parish Profile

Dear Lord,

You have heard many prayers from the people of St. Michael and All Angels. You have given us a wonderful ten years with our retired priest and helped us grow spiritually and faithfully, and we are so grateful. We now ask that you open the hearts and minds of prospective candidates for our Rector, that they can be moved to hear Your call to lead us in pastoral love, inspired preaching and warm communion. Help us to search for our next Rector and to listen, pray and discern who may best lead us in this next part of our journey. Continue to fill us with Christ’s love, grace and peace.  Amen.


St. Michael’s is a strong, faithful and growing congregation. We welcome all who come to this household of faith, whether for a week, a season, or year-round. While our church is on beautiful Sanibel Island, we are not a vacation parish. Our vision, “Transforming Lives Through Christ”, and our mission “to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ so that all may come to know God”, are at the heart of all we think and do.

Our story is a fascinating one. In short, our first Eucharistic service was in 1958; three years later the congregation worshipped in their new home, a lovely building with distinctly ship-like architecture. The following year, St. Michael’s led the way in being the first parish to become integrated in southwest Florida, a fact of which we are proud.  As the demographics of Sanibel evolve, we will continue that integration and find additional opportunities for service, for instance with the working poor, who benefit from the Island food pantry and subsidized housing units. In the years since our inception, the welcoming, inclusive, generous atmosphere has contributed to a warm and caring community. Today, we are thriving  (2019 Stewardship).Two years ago, we renovated our main building, adding rooms for Vesting, Altar Guild, Flower Guild, Sunday School, and with meeting rooms for other Ministries and groups. This was all accomplished by the donations of generous parishioners, thereby eliminating the need for a capital campaign.  In the past 10 years, we have had anonymous donations which also provided for property upgrades. It has been quite remarkable and inspiring to all of us at St. Michael’s.

Our parishioners are fortunate in many ways. We historically have been very generous with our talents, time and personal resources. To gather data that accurately reflects our current congregation’s demographics, behaviors and worship preferences, we conducted an expansive survey this August 2019; our Parish Profile result follows.

With a nearly 50% response rate, the survey results reflect a parish of educated people, many with college or graduate degrees.  While nearly 90% of us are retired, we are very active and engaged in our parish life and in our extended communities, very generous with our time and financial resources.  We participate energetically in the worship of the parish, in the educational opportunities, in the cultural life, and in volunteerism. The commitment to outreach through Noah’s Ark, our thrift store, is phenomenal! The parish Outreach Committee also provides more opportunities for direct volunteer service to many local organizations beyond the parish.

As in other Episcopal churches nationwide, we have more members who are older; 61% are between the ages of 66-80. Still, we have attracted families with children and youth. Factually, Sanibel is a sought-after vacation destination, so we have many visitors during “season” who come back again, some to retire because of all that Sanibel and environs have to offer.  This cycle of coming back, and retiring here, has been part of St. Michael’s history, with 60% living here full time and 40% here 3 – 8 months per year. Often people attend first for Christmas and/or Easter services, or while on vacation, and find the beauty of the worship, the inspirational music, the genuine welcome from parishioners, the unique church structure and grounds very attractive. Then they find that spiritual link from a great sermon that brings them back again and again. Our own extended families love coming down to Sanibel and nearby areas, many via Southwest Florida International Airport, to visit at all times of the year. We celebrate our children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews and delight when they have their Baptisms, their Weddings and other celebrations with us. Some of them have subsequently moved to the area and worship at St. Michael’s as well.

As reported, worship is at the center of our life at St. Michael’s. Attendance during season fills the church; slightly less so off-season. Remarkably, 86% of survey respondents attend worship services weekly or more! Through live-streaming, the services can be viewed from home or while up north. During holiday overflow times the Parish Hall has audiovisual equipment and additional seating for viewing the service. Our music program is enriching, with additional programs and artists adding to the spiritual culture throughout the year.  Approximately half of our parishioners live on Sanibel/Captiva, while the other half live elsewhere in Fort Myers and neighboring communities. That those off-island congregants choose to worship and participate in the life of St. Michael’s speaks to the unique attraction of this faith community. All are welcome to the Eucharistic table. The friendships and fellowship emanating from St. Michael’s are of high value to our members; their support and care for each other extends well beyond the church walls or the weekend service.

Our survey also showed that our parishioners value inspirational sermons. As a generally well-educated community we yearn for scripture-based, thought-provoking, relevant preaching. We conveyed how we appreciate a genuine, positive faith message which gives us more to strive for, in our spirits and in our souls. We welcome a priest who has the ability to set the direction and generate ideas, possessing a strong sense of personal responsibility, yet allows parishioners to figure things out themselves. We want to be heard, listened to, and encouraged to hear others to find consensus in a loving, respectful manner. We want a pastor who regards the Bible as an interpretation of God’s dealing with humanity. We have responded well to positive, challenging, assuring sermons delivered with a smile, sincerity and substance.

In discussions, we realize that we are a privileged segment of society. Like many Episcopal churches, our survey disclosed that we believe we are warm and welcoming, but recognize we need to be even more welcoming to others. Our survey also reports that we feel spiritually vital and alive, with a clear sense of our mission to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ in our lives; that we do want to be cared for and cherished as we age and when we become ill or infirm. Some of us communicated that we need the pastoral support more because family may not be nearby and get assistance from our Parish Nurse. Many parishioners also assist in the Pastoral Care Ministry and its subsets, but the real love and pastoral care of our clergy is highly valued and makes us loving and giving in return.  The regular communication from the Rector about how folks are doing and who needs prayers, cards, etc. keeps us in touch with our own mortality, and incentivized to contribute our time, talents and treasures as we feel inspired.

We also recognize that while pastoral care, excellent sermons, and the beauty of the liturgy are what we value from a Rector, we are open to new models of administrative delivery. We currently have three fabulous retired priests, who have been generous in their offers to preach, lead book or Bible groups, perform services and more. A new Rector could offer a different paradigm of leadership than we’ve had, and as long as parishioners felt cherished, valuable, and inspired, the parish would be very supportive. Our friendships and relationships at St. Michael’s are very important to us; the community will be supportive of a new Rector who delegates or is creative in the Rector responsibilities. There is already very much engagement by the parishioners which is not clergy driven.  

Anecdotally we discovered that many parishioners had multi-level professional or executive careers in their former lives, and we want to (and do) continue using our expertise and skills for the benefit of St. Michael's.  That previous experience in key positions in industry, education, medicine, and service professions, clearly allows us to individually and collectively provide outstanding opportunities to St. Michael’s, whether it be in service on the Vestry, the Finance Committee, the Christian Education programs, the Children and Youth groups, the Pastoral Care Ministry, or any of the 40+ ministries in the parish.  With humility in our successes, we offer connections to resources not easily available otherwise. Jesus said “ask, and you shall receive”. Our parish hears the requests, and the reception is extraordinary. Our new Rector would be able to continue taking advantage of these resources. We also celebrate our unity in our Episcopal faith. That we come from many different backgrounds, cultures, beliefs and parts of the country gives us the opportunity to accept and respect other points of view, remembering that we are all one in the body of Christ.

We are a grateful people who want to give back and pay forward. And because we are blessed with God’s love in many ways, we are ready and willing to help a new Rector, to be good leaders and good followers. We have been blessed these last ten years with our beloved pastor, Ellen Sloan, who encouraged our growth spiritually, emotionally, physically and financially. She showed us how to “love one another”, to be kind to all people, to be respectful and understanding in the presence of different viewpoints, and that there is plenty of room in God’s house for all of us. We know we have grown with her as our Rector, and know also that as she retires, she leaves us in strong spiritual, emotional, and financial health. We are ready to continue our faith journeys with a new Rector, knowing that we remain blessed.


Dear Lord,

You who are of heaven and earth, please hear our prayers for this St. Michael and All Angels parish family. Grant us your wisdom, strength and presence as we seek to do your will in calling forth our new Rector. Help us to embrace all people, opening us to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Draw our hearts to you, guide our minds, and so fill our imagination through your grace, that in this process we may come together in Christ’s love.  Amen.

 

 

BestChurchshot

Church Now

Installation of Ellen

The Gallery2

Church Overflow

2012 Blessing of the Animals

Confirmation

Don Drumm2

Church Group

Angel Window

Childrens Christmas Eve Service

ElHogar20132

2013 Bishop Visit