The Mountain Times

°F Sun, April 20, 2014

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Rev. Diane Root says goodbye after 14 years

KILLINGTON-After 14 years as the Canon Missioner for the Church of Our Saviour at Mission Farm, the Rev. Diane Root is retiring.
She began her life in Killington August 1998. A lot has changed since then, she says, particularly the people. In her first years, Root remembers a large representation of those who knew Killington's 'earlier life.' "Many have died or moved away... They knew the history of the church so well," she reflects.

The church was built in 1817 of Vermont granite. It was then founded by Elizabeth Wood Clement as an Episcopal church to serve the residents of Killington, Bridgewater and Plymouth.

The Church has had many variations of its names since it was built, including: The Church of Our Saviour, the Church of Our Saviour at Mission Farm, the Mission of the Church of Our Saviour and the Josiah Wood, Jr., Farm. On October 29, 1992, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Many of the changes over the last 14 years, have been a direct result of Root's leadership. "I was really called on to be part of the change," said Root. "The congregation at that time was looking to get away from the model of 'church'… I view clergy as a resource, to encourage and to coach. My task is not to preach the law; it's more about saying 'let's wrestle with the gospel together,'" Root says, adding "Ministry is the work of the whole people of God… we see the congregation as the ministry."

Root also emphasizes the importance of making teachings relevant. "If it doesn't resonate with life today we don't relate," she says. "I get to help people see the good news: God's justice and compassion in the world."

The church has a strong ministry of hospitality, which started before Root arrived and she expects will continue long after she's gone.

The guesthouse is a central part of that mission. The early owners initially converted the 'wagon shed' into the guesthouse said Root, remembering that "They always used to laugh at me for calling it a 'carriage barn.'"

The current guesthouse, which has been upgraded many times since, offers groups and individuals a retreat; a music camp was currently staying there Root said, Thursday.

Additionally, the church provides a peaceful place for locals and visitors to pray or meditate, keeping the doors open whenever possible.

It also hosts concerts that are open to all, and it is the rain venue for Killington's summer concert series.
"We have become a local watering hole for walkers and dogs, too," Root explains. "Many local walkers with their dogs pass the church regularly as this is one of only flat places to walk in Killington." Under Root's leadership, one way the congregation has been able to build partnerships with the community is through a new trail system on the church's 170 acre property, which are being developed in cooperation with the Town of Killington. The church offers drinking water outside its front door with a dog bowl and a welcoming sign.

Over the years, one of the most popular events continues to be the Blessing of Animals, on Oct. 4, for Feast of Saint Francis, Root says.

Root and her partner Margaret Campbell moved to Vermont be together, "it was such an open, healthy and encouraging environment to become part of."

"We came, met the people, saw the place; it was such a positive environment, we instantly felt like this was home," she said. Adding "we got jobs within 36 hours of each other!"

The Church of Our Saviour at Mission Farm was the only church Root applied to. It was a regional ministry position, which was especially exciting to her at the time, she recalled. She became part of the Three Rivers Regional Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, which meant that she spent part of her time in Bethel, for most of the time she lived here.

Root and Campbell will be moving to West Lebanon, NH at the end of the month. "It's part of our tradition, when we leave a community we take time away," Root explained. "It's a healthful and loving goodbye for now."

In small communities it can be especially hard to detach for both the congregation and the minister, she says. "So it's best to leave for a while."

It also helps others to take over. "The congregation needs to take time to discuss the direction they want to move in without me; it's a good opportunity for them… I can still be a neighbor and a friend but not a leader."

The Mission Farm congregation will likely have an interim minister for six months to a year, Root said, explaining the typical timeline. The Bishop will help find interim ministers who are usually retired or bi-vocational.

Root expects she will miss the rhythm of the parish life, preparing sermons, and being part of this community.
Root's last sermon will be delivered this Sunday, August 12, at 9:30 a.m. All are welcome. Then she will be on vacation until the end of the month "frantically packing."

Celebration planned for August 11
KILLINGTON- The congregation also hopes members of the Killington, Bridgewater and Plymouth communities will join them at the Church on Saturday, August 11, to celebrate Diane Root's ministry with them and to wish her and her partner, Margaret Campbell, well in their retirement.

An informal social hour at 5 p.m. will be followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and a Vesper Service at 7:30 p.m.. Come just for the social hour or for the full event.

Those planning to attend the dinner should please RSVP to Pat Kent (802-775-7492) by August 9.

The historic Church of Our Saviour at Mission Farm is located at 316 Mission Farm Road, (just across from the Skyeship gondola) in Killington, Vt.

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