“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Dear Redeemer Family:
In late April, Dr. Ann Stephenson-Moe told me, and the Senior Warden, that she was entering a period of discernment about eventual retirement. Ann and I went to Main Bar for a sandwich in May to continue the conversation. At that lunch I told Ann that I would pray for her, and I promised the parish would support her decisions, whether she chose to take on another twenty years or to retire. After a subsequent period of discernment, Ann decided she will transition to retirement on 8 November 2020.
If you feel anything like I do, you will feel both a sense of loss followed by abiding thankfulness for all that Ann has brought to our life together. I will never forget her kindness to me and to my family over the last seven years. She has been way more than a colleague in God’s vineyard: she is a friend. I mean it when I say that Ann truly is the “grande dame” of Church of the Redeemer!
To say that Ann has touched countless lives is a gross understatement. She will be miffed with me for saying this, but she has been Organist/Choirmaster since 1974 (that’s a tenure of 46 years, if quick math isn’t your strong suit). She will not be miffed, however, when I say that she has continually shown all of us in the parish what dedication, grace, and professionalism look like, as each are amplified by serving God in His Church. While her musical acumen is without question, and is appreciated literally by thousands, she has also modeled beautifully what it means to be an evangelist and a faithful disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The silver-lining in this announcement is that the Vestry has given Ann a sabbatical fund for some musical research, which she will complete and share with us when it is safe to travel again. She will also be staying in Sarasota, so we will see her. Redeemer will continue to be Ann’s parish. And the Vestry has agreed with my decision to appoint Ann as Organist/Choirmaster Emeritus, effective 9 November, which means she will play from time to time and still share her gifts in our common life. We cannot have a big party to properly thank her right now, but, trust me, we will as soon as it is safe to do.
To the casual observer Ann has tiny feet, which are always stylishly tucked into her trademark stilettos, but “filling her shoes,” as they say, is an enormous task for us all. We are not, however, left comfortless. I am pleased to announce that Mr. Sam Nelson will become Organist/Choirmaster on 9 November. Sam brings abundant gifts and passion to this vital part of our life together. He and Ann are already working to ensure not only a smooth transition, but ways that Sam will be able to build upon the strong foundation already laid. Congratulations, Sam!
Finally, I know that change of any kind if often first experienced as loss. But, I have found that prayer, coupled with an attitude of gratitude, can make all the difference in the world. St. Paul said it best:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).”
We all will have many opportunities to express our gratitude to Ann and her family in the coming days. In the meantime, I remain:
Your servant,
Fr. Charleston