provided to Santiva Chronicle
During her long tenure, Dr. Sloan focused on congregational development, strengthening pastoral care and creating a holistic approach to the parish’s extensive outreach efforts.
She was instrumental in beginning a vibrant Youth Ministry that included outreach efforts, pool parties at her home, overnight “lock-ins,” discussions of scripture, and annual trips to the Diocesan Acolyte Festival at the Cathedral in St. Petersburg. In 2017, she also initiated Vacation Bible School, a weeklong experience for children age 5 through 5th grade.
She involved youth and Sunday School children in the regular Sunday processionals, as readers, crucifers and as torchbearers. Children as young as 7 now serve at the altar in various capacities.
She also encouraged families with children to participate regularly as ushers and greeters during Sunday services.
In 2015-16, Rev. Sloan began a Strategic Planning Process for the parish, which resulted in Vision and Mission Statements, and Core Belief Principles. The Vestry was proud to complete all action items in the subsequent three to four years. She was also instrumental in securing significant financial donations. During her tenure, the following funds were created: Renovation and Renewal of the Campus, Catastrophic and Renewal, Spiritual Development, Beautification of the Campus, and Outside Music Musicians and Concerts.
A donation to the Renovation and Renewal Fund resulted in major renovations of the Sacristy, the Sunday School room, the Madden Room, the Flower Guild Room, restrooms and a Gathering Place, all completed and dedicated in 2017. Another fund will be used to complete a new office building.
Along with the History and Archives Ministry, Dr. Sloan encouraged the establishment of an annual Martin Luther King, Jr., event, now in its fifth season. The event also celebrates the fact that St. Michael’s was the first church of any denomination in southwest Florida to integrate black and white congregations.
She expanded the Healing Ministry at St. Michael’s and brought back the practice of Morning Prayer. She created a Taizé service once each month, a Sacred Dancers Ministry, a Women at the Well spirituality group, beachside eucharists, and an annual series of lectures and concerts called “Nourishment of Body, Mind and Spirit.”
Reflecting on Dr. Sloan’s invaluable leadership at the church, longtime parishioner and Church Chancellor Judy Workman said, “Ellen is the kind of leader whom you hope will never leave, but of course, that is a little unrealistic. For the past ten years, St. Michael’s has been blessed with a pastor who exudes love, compassion and warmth to all. She has been a model for the congregation.
“I truly believe we have learned from her to become a warm and welcoming church,” Workman added. “We will miss her, but our greatest gift to her will be to continue her legacy as we move forward.”
Another longtime parishioner, Ralph Clark, who was co-chair of the search committee that recruited Sloan, recalled that “Dr. Sloan, known to all of our parishioners as Ellen, led St Michael’s in many important ways over her ten years with us. She brought young people to the altar and to the life of the church, drew many new families to the congregation with her preaching and warmth, drove the music program to great new heights, made major improvements to the facilities, and led us to new levels of outreach to the community and beyond.
“But if I were to try to characterize her greatest ministry with us,” Clark added, “I would say she led our church community by living out Jesus’ commandment to ‘love one another as I have loved you.’”
The Rev. Alan Kelmereit, St. Michael’s Assisting Rector, described Sloan as “an outstanding pastor and leader for St Michael’s. During her tenure, the church has experienced significant growth and has extended its charitable outreach throughout southwest Florida,” he said. “She was the catalyst for substantial spiritual development among parishioners. She will be sorely missed.”
Kelmereit will serve as Priest-in-Charge for St. Michael’s while the parish conducts a search. A new, permanent rector is expected to be in place by fall 2020.