Important Messages from the Rector and Senior Warden

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August 16, 2016

My Dear Friends,

I wish I could speak to you individually but this message is the most effective way for me to reach each of you at this time.  For the last several months, I have been working with a therapist and spiritual director on a personal matter that I have struggled with throughout my life.  Because of the love and support I have received from all of you at St. James, I am now ready to acknowledge to myself and to all of you that I am transgender and will begin to transition to being a man.  This has been a part of me as far back as I can remember and I first worked with a therapist in Buffalo in 1982.

My deepest concern in moving forward in my transition is that I not be the cause of division in the parish. I have loved this congregation from the beginning of our time together 18 years ago and I continue to know how privileged I am to be your rector.

The Vestry met last night and we would now like the opportunity to meet with you on Thursday, August 18th  at 7 pm in the Parish Hall.  I will try to answer questions as best as I can. I am also happy to talk with any of you individually when you are ready. If you would like to talk to another priest about this, Daphne has a list of clergy willing to meet with you.

I have had a long time to wrestle with this and have had many people help me through this. I know it may take time for you to understand or even accept my news. Please know that I am and will continue to be the same person in heart, and soul, and mind. I pray that God will guide us through this in peace and in love.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

The Rev. Evelyn N.  Manzella


August 16, 2016

Dear Parishioners of St. James,

At the Vestry meeting last evening, our rector of over eighteen years, Evelyn, shared with us that she is transgender.  She is ready to acknowledge this only after many years of self-examination and professional guidance.  As I told Evelyn, this news seems quite natural to hear from her because we know her: she always seeks joy, the goodness of God in our lives, and is authentic in working to be the best version of what God created her to be. The journey to be true to that creation will continue.

During this, her journey, to become who God calls her to be, may we also live into what we are called to by God over the next months. May we pray for grace to be aware of others and their needs, as well as our own. 

There will be a meeting later this week and there are many resources available for those that would like to learn more about transgender people.  

Once again, we ask your prayers as we begin a new chapter together here at St. James: a chapter about growth, truth and most of all love--of one another and of our generous God.

Celia Smart, Senior Warden