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Vision Statement

St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church as the people of God who are loving and forgiving, as Jesus taught us.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, we are growing in unity and welcoming all God's children. We are serving God through our ministries.

May We Introduce Ourselves...

The Search Committee of St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church welcomes your interest in our Church. Our Office of Transition Ministry (OTM) profile puts into words who we are. This information was compiled from interviews, surveys, and endless hours of conversation among the search committee and mission committee members.
The process of gathering this information offered an opportunity to consider who we are, to affirm what we believe, and to express our hopes for the future. We have been prayerful in our efforts, and painstaking in our desire to present a profile of who we are. We have great hope for the future.
We are searching for a vicar who will cherish our strengths, and understand and accept the challenges that face us as individuals, as a mission, and throughout the Episcopal Church. We hope our new vicar will inspire us, teach us, laugh and cry with us. We look for a leader in worship, education, prayer, and growth in the spirit of Christ.
We pray that every individual who reads our profile will find a church home that best suits his or her energies and ministry strengths. We pray that we have provided the information needed so that the best person for our Church will choose us as we choose that person. And then, we will rejoice that we have found one another. May God bless us on our respective journeys.

Rector Search Committee

Carol Baker

Carol Baker

I have been an active communicant of St. Francis of Assisi since the early 1980’s. I have been married to Dennis Baker since 1971 and we have two grown children, DJ and Angie. We also have two granddaughters. Upon his discharge from the Navy in 1981, Dennis and I and family settled in Irmo, South Carolina. After many visits to different churches in the area we chose St. Francis as our church home. I have been on the Vestry as liaison for Stewardship and also Outreach. I served as Management Board Chair of St. Francis Community Thrift Shop and for many years have been a volunteer. For four years I organized GET READY, a week-long program to strengthen both social and academic skills of rising Kindergarten students from Chapin Elementary School. I also lead the team of Counters, bake Communion Bread and have helped with several annual auctions. I am a Reader and recently l joined the Newcomers Team. For many years I served as an usher. In 2018 I attended Cursillo. I was again elected to the Vestry in 2021 but because of becoming a Mission I wasn’t able to serve.

Alice Brooker

Alice Brooker

As a cradle Episcopalian, the church has always been an important part of my life. Growing up, I was active in Sunday School, EYC, choir and Jr. Altar Guild. As an adult, I have remained an active member. St. Francis of Assisi has been my church home since 2016, after over 50 years at my original church. Here I serve on Altar Guild, the Outreach Committee, Buildings and Grounds, and the Thrift Shop Management Board. Previously, I served 2 terms on vestry, 1 year as senior warden, was a member of the cemetery committee and participated in Cursillo. In the Chapin community I am an active volunteer at The St. Francis Community Thrift Shop and at We Care, the food pantry.

Michael Copeland

Michael Copeland

I am originally from Orangeburg, South Carolina where I was reared as a Southern Baptist. I graduated from The Citadel where I served as the Head Usher for the Protestant Chapel for 2 ½ years. I worked as the Cadet Wedding Coordinator for the Summerall Chapel for three years. I was also elected to serve as the Senior Class Representative to the Religious Council. I served in the US Army after graduating and stayed in the Columbia area. Before becoming engaged to my Roman Catholic wife, we looked for a middle-ground church to join. After many visits to different denominations and churches, we agreed on the Episcopal Church and St. Francis of Assisi. We joined St. Francis, became engaged, and were married 30 years ago at St. Francis. I have been an active member of the Boy Scouts since second grade and am also an Eagle Scout. I started the Scouting program at St. Francis 29 years ago and continue to be actively involved with it. I have served in many different positions is Scouting. I recently finished serving as the State President of the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association. I referee all levels of youth soccer up to age 20. I am a member of the Chapin Camp of Gideons International. I have worked as a financial advisor for 35 years. We have four adult children.

Janice Fergusson

Janice Fergusson

I am a native of Shelby, North Carolina and I grew up in the Methodist Church. I joined the Episcopal Church in 1987 when I moved to Columbia. My late husband and I were active members at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Irmo prior to moving to Chapin in 1998. Upon encouragement from friends and neighbors, we decided to visit St. Francis of Assisi. We loved the people at St. Francis and the rest is history. I am a CPA and taught accounting at the university level for many years. I have held numerous positions in the Church, including being very active in Church finances and chairing the 2022 stewardship campaign. I enjoy reading, gardening, and I am a huge University of South Carolina Gamecock fan!

Ann Gorman

Ann Gorman

Born and raised Roman Catholic in Ohio, my husband and I relocated to South Carolina in 1994, and to Chapin in 2019. We quickly found the joy that is in the Episcopalian Church. I am a retired OB/GYN, married, and we have 3 grown girls and 6 grandchildren. We love calling Chapin our home, enjoying all that Lake Murray has to offer! I am active in the Flower Guild, Daughters of the King, and many other services here at St Francis.

Lisa Maylath

Lisa Maylath

I am a cradle Episcopalian from the Midwest. My husband and I were married in the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts. We were involved in our Church in Pennsylvania prior to moving to South Carolina. We had our daughters, Madeleine and Paige, baptized in St Francis. I have served on vestry, outreach and the thrift store. I have served with Vacation Bible School and the outreach summer camp. I have also served as the Girl Scout leader for 15 years.

Phil Steude

Phil Steude

I am a semi-retired psychiatrist who joined St. Francis 46 years ago. I have served in many positions over that time. Currently I am a lay reader/chalice bearer, and on the building and grounds committee. I take the prayer of St. Francis as my job description. I was on vestry recently and attend a small group. Pam, my wife of 51 years, and I have 2 adult children. I am a master naturalist and master gardener with an interest in Native American Spirituality. I enjoy deer hunting, woodworking, and living in the woods, all of which connect me with the Mystery of God.

Chapin Community

Chapin is located 16 miles north of Columbia, the capital of South Carolina. The region is one of the fastest growing areas in the state. All of South Carolina is within a three-hour drive of Chapin, making it easy to take day trips to the mountains of the upstate, the beautiful beaches of the coast, or the historical sites of the Low Country.
It is a small town, where friends and neighbors greet one another at the grocery store and bank. And yet, the cultural amenities of a large university town are a 30-minute drive, which for many combines the best of both worlds.
Chapin’s climate is so mild that the frogs start singing in February and the leaves don’t start autumn colors until late October. This allows the Chapin community plenty of time to enjoy the many activities of their backyard lake and woodlands.
Lake Murray is a 50,000-acre man-made lake, 41 miles long, with more than 600 miles of shoreline and 14 miles across at its widest point. In its early days, Lake Murray was a weekend haven for many. Today, its sunny shores draw people from diverse climates, and thousands call Lake Murray home. Lake residents enjoy many water activities such as sailing, fishing, skiing, kayaking, and boating. There are many housing developments at water’s edge, featuring boat slips, launches, and dry docks for residents.
Although Chapin has numerous lake activities, it also has plenty to offer away from the water, including golfing, live performances at the Chapin Community Theater, tons of books to read at the Chapin Branch Library, and shopping along historical Beaufort Street at local specialty shops.
Crooked Creek Park has a 50,000-square-foot gymnasium, running/walking track, exercise areas, racquetball courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, jogging/walking trails, playgrounds and picnic area, along with an active seniors program. The Park is open to the public and features special classes and programs for all ages.
Chapin’s Annual Labor Day Festival draws thousands each year. Parade-goers line the street in anticipation of the famous Labor Day parade, and afterwards enjoy a Classic Car Show and numerous vendors.
Within 30 miles of Chapin, you will find several golf courses, many live theaters, major museums, large malls, antique shopping, the Newberry Opera House, Koger Center and Colonial Life Arena, the University of South Carolina, and Dreher Island State Park for camping and hiking. The Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens, one of the nation’s top 10 zoos, offers remarkable glimpses into the habitats of wild and domestic animals, gardens that include native species as well as more exotic plants, and Waterfall Junction that includes a 25-foot cascading waterfall and splash zones.
Among Chapin’s greatest assets are its public schools, recognized statewide and nationally for achievements in academics, the arts, athletics, and leadership. School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties has earned the reputation as the top school district in South Carolina and one of the finest in the nation.
Whatever the reasons that bring people and families to the Chapin area, they soon realize the blessings that Chapin residents have known all along. This is a community rich in opportunities and advantages – an ideal location to call home!

History of St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church

St. Francis of Assisi was organized and accepted into the Diocese of Upper South Carolina in 1977, when 61 people transferred from other Episcopal churches to form the nucleus of a new mission.
Initially, the congregation worshiped in the old Chapin Methodist Church building, fondly referred to as the old rent-a-church because so many congregations worshiped there. We shared the building with the Roman Catholic Mission until March 1985, when we moved to the present award-winning facilities designed by the Boudreau Group of Columbia.
Our church has a reputation for and commitment to outreach in the Chapin community, as well as in the Diocese and beyond. In 1983, St. Francis of Assisi began operating a thrift store, and its profits fund the outreach projects of the church (more details about our outreach program below).
The congregation enjoys several special worship services each year. One that we are noted for is our Blessing of the Animals in October in our outdoor chapel. In 2022, we started a Pets Ministry and dedicated our Pet Cemetery. What better way to honor our patron saint – St. Francis. Several fund-raisers have also become annual events at St. Francis, and contribute to fellowship, service to the community, and finances.
Building and

Building and Grounds

We are blessed with a wonderful campus located 1 mile south of Chapin on Old Lexington Highway. Built in 1985, the sanctuary was enlarged in 1997, renovated in 2015, with further upgrades in 2018. The design is simple, but uplifting, and has won architectural awards from both the Columbia Council of Architects and from the South Carolina Chapter of the American Institute
of Architects. This 6,200 square feet structure seats 250 and has dedicated rooms for vesting of choir and acolytes, floral arranging, and a sacristy. The wooded, tranquil setting is enhanced by our naturalistic landscaping.
The Sanctuary is connected to social, educational, and administrative services units (approximately 10,000 square feet) by an area displaying icons of the stations of the cross. The Christian Education wing serves many purposes, and has an up-to-date kitchen, heavily used by the many good cooks in our parish.
Leaving the reception hall and crossing our deck, a bridge crosses a small stream, and we enter the cemetery. The cemetery was started in 1985 and has 170 plots. More recently, a 32-niche columbarium was added, and a pet cemetery has been developed adjacent to our outdoor chapel.

Christian Education/Formation

St. Francis of Assisi strives to provide opportunities for all ages to grow their faith in Christ. In the past, our Sunday School programs have included a nursey, a children’s group, a youth group, and one or two adult groups with volunteer leaders of each group. With the onset of the COVID 19 shutdown, we suspended our Sunday School classes. Since the reopening of our churches, we have been working to rebuild our Sunday School programs. We have been able to restart both our adult and children’s classes with a steady group of attendees.
Another part of our Christian education is during the Lenten season where we gather for a weekly meal and an in-depth Lenten program series. For years, St. Francis has annually hosted and staffed a Vacation Bible School (VBS) during the summer. Our VBS program has attracted children from all over the Chapin area.
Attending Cursillo is also actively promoted within St. Francis of Assisi, and we are blessed to have several members of our church who serve regularly on its staff. We also encourage small groups and other group activities with our church and community.

Communications

Our focus in this area has been to strengthen messages to the congregation through email, our website, social media, as well as developing a marketing campaign that will attract new members. Our primary approach has been a virtual campaign which allows us to focus on certain demographics. This method also allows us an analytical approach to evaluate what is working and what is not, allowing us the opportunity to reinforce what is working and change what is not. We recognize that constant communications within and outside the Church is a vital part of a growing and thriving congregation.

Fellowship

Fellowship is one of the hallmarks of St. Francis. Some of our events are holiday related such as our Epiphany Supper, Shrove Tuesday, Easter Brunch and Trunk or Treat. Other events are more relationship events like our weekly coffee hour after worship, Fellowship and Games Night, Church Chicks, Boat Blessing and Parish Picnic, FEAST (Friends Eating and Sharing Together) Groups, Lunch Bunch, and Out & About.
The family at St. Francis of Assisi is a warm, welcoming, and fun-loving group of folks who count our strong fellowship as one of our richest blessings. Because of our relationship with each other, we truly consider ourselves brothers and sisters in Christ.

Pastoral Care

Nurturing our Church family and beyond is the basis for Pastoral Care. By loving and caring for one another, the congregation is strengthened and supported in times of need. It is a privilege to offer a warm meal, a ride to the doctor, a phone call, or a note to those who need us.

Our Ministry of Blessings provides tangible items for those in need. The list of items ranges from prayer shawls, scarfs, baby blankets, to chemo hats and prayer beads that have been lovely made by church members.

Our Food Ministry provides food to those in need. It may be someone who lives alone and needs a quick easy meal or a family in need of support during a time of illness or death in the family.

Our Helping Hands Ministry provides assistance to those in need of small tasks around the house. Help around the house may be as simple as hanging a picture, changing batteries in smoke alarms, fixing a step, etc. Transportation is also provided to doctor’s appointments and rides to church functions.

Outreach and Thrift Shop

The St. Francis Community Thrift Shop is located on Courtland Road in Chapin. The Shop is open for sales on Friday from 1:00 – 4:00 PM, and on Saturday from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. The Shop receives donations Monday-Wednesday from 9:00 AM to noon, and during sales hours on Friday and Saturday.
The Thrift Shop depends on a committed group of volunteers from St. Francis of Assisi, as well as those from the community. Donations are sorted, cleaned, and displayed appropriately. Volunteers can come anytime to help – both men and women are welcome and needed. We have sorters who make sure all the clothes are in good condition. Other volunteers hang pictures, display dishes, knick-knacks, linens, etc. Men are especially helpful with the heavy lifting and testing of electronic donations. Many of our volunteers work 20-30 hours a week. Our Christmas Shoppe
has become a tremendous asset. Sales from the Christmas Shoppe have added additional revenue and our customers seem to love all that we have to offer.
The profits generated by the Thrift Shop provide funds needed for outreach needs. 100% of the profits from the Thrift Shop go to fund Outreach Ministries.
The Outreach Committee considers and approves a well-balanced distribution of funds generated from the Thrift Shop profits. Assistance has been given for housing, medical and humanitarian relief to local, national, and international organizations, as well as for individuals in need. Recent outreach ministries have included: We Care Center (local food bank), free medical clinics in the area, Camp Cole, South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families, Newberry Hospital Chemo Infusion Center, Healing Species, Rise Against Hunger, Haiti, Wine to Water, Afghanistan, Scouting Program, World Central Kitchen, and many others.

Spiritual Growth and Development

To nurture spiritual growth and development, we are committed to welcoming all of God’s children to St. Francis of Assisi. The first step in doing so is to welcome all, both regular and newcomers, to our Sunday services by our Greeters. We host a brunch for the Newcomers, giving all an opportunity to get to know each other. Cursillo and Small Groups give attendees the opportunity to further their own spiritual growth. Daughters of the King, Secret Sisters, and mini and weekend retreats give our women many different opportunities to grow as Christian women.

Stewardship/Finance

The 2023 Stewardship Campaign began in late September. The St. Francis Express (patterned from the Little Engine that Could) made its return and our motto for the campaign was “We Know We Can, We Know We Can.”
Over the next four weeks, the response was amazing! We didn’t just meet our goal, we exceeded it by more than $25,000. The total dollars pledged for 2023 are greater than any annual campaign that we have had at St. Francis in the last ten years.
As we move forward into 2023, the stewardship committee will be developing a year-round stewardship program where there will be opportunities to share our time, talent, and treasures within the Church and the greater community.
Given the continued generosity as evidenced in the Stewardship campaign, we have prepared a somewhat aggressive budget for 2023 that will allow us to continue to grow and address our needs as a thriving congregation.

Worship

The Worship Committee coordinates the many celebrants, servers, and support functions for the Sunday worship services, as well as all special services for the Church. Our efforts are directed toward helping people have a meaningful worship experience, and to give people the opportunity to share their time and talents through one or more of our subcommittees – Lay Readers, Eucharistic Visitors, Altar Guild, Flower Guild, Acolytes, Choir, Ushers, and Nursery Volunteers.
Whether it is our traditional Sunday service, or one of our special services (such as those held during Easter or Christmas) that have become so important to our members, it is our goal to make sure the flowers are beautiful, the altar set, the choir ready to sing with joyful hearts, the acolytes, ushers, lectors, and chalice bearers prepared, and our nursery waiting to care for our youngest members.

Youth Ministry

What does youth ministry look like at St. Francis of Assisi? We have all heard it said that the youth are the future of the church. While this is indeed true, it is also true that they are the “here and now” of the church as well.
We were in the process of reviving our youth program when COVID hit in March 2020. This certainly put a damper on things, but we have been able to offer some opportunities for our youth. These opportunities have included:
• making and delivering Christmas gift bags to our elderly members
• weekly Lenten series on stress management (could join virtually or in person)
• board game night
• kayaking on the Saluda River
• back to school party
• Christmas shopping for outreach children
As is true in many congregations, we face challenges with the number of youth attending church. We are expanding our game nights (electronic and board games) and inviting youth from the community. When youth from the community experience the welcoming environment at St. Francis of Assisi, we hope they will want to join us on a regular basis with their families.

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