The Very Revered Raymond Joe Waldon was installed as the Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Mark in 2011. Prior to his calling to the Cathedral, he served as rector of St. Peters in Alabama. He served in South Carolina, The Central Gulf Coast, and Western Louisiana. Dean Waldon graduated from Virginia Seminary with a Master’s of Divinity. He also holds bachelor degrees in English and Journalism from Louisiana Tech with a focus on Broadcast Media.
As Dean, Waldon directs the daily life and worship of the Cathedral, which includes over 800 people, a number that has increased since his arrival. Waldon envisions the Cathedral as a place where all people are welcome and all are able to grow in their relationship to God. Recent attendance records were set for several events including Lessons and Carols in 2014 that featured the governor and a member of the first presidency of the LDS Church. Further, Waldon has charted the Cathedral as a community wide center of worship, a place of conversation on poverty, the environment, and ecumenism. Waldon is also a noted community leader recently being featured in a Salt Lake City Magazine. He serves on a charitable board, assists with the leadership of Hildegard’s Pantry—a community resource on the premises of the Cathedral that provides food to over 30,000 annually—provides council to civic leaders, and has hosted numerous other events throughout the city.
Waldon is also a leader within the greater Episcopal Church. He currently serves as Vice President of the Executive Committee of the Diocese of Utah, is a member of the Ecclesiastical Court, and has mentored seminarians and deacons. He serves as a Deputy at 2015 General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. During the Convention, he provided critical leadership as the Cathedral hosted thousands of Episcopalians from across the globe and as the House of Bishops elected Michael Curry as the 27th Presiding Bishop from the nave of the Cathedral.
Before ordination, Waldon was an award-winning broadcaster and journalist. He enjoys golfing, is working on completing a book on prayers and enjoys studying biography, philosophy, and history. He has been married to Lisa, his wife, for 37 years; they have two adult children and two grandchildren. He celebrated 20 years of ordained ministry in 2015.
“My vision is to create an inclusive environment where all who wish may see Jesus.” (Cathedral Address, 2011)
ANNUAL MEETING The Very Rev. Raymond J. Waldon January 31, 2016
The Dean delivered an extemporaneous report using this as his basis. The reader should note that some material may have been included and that some material may have been omitted.
June 25 to July 3 the city of Salt Lake was impacted with about 15,000 visitors to the Triennial Convention of the Episcopal Church. I was blessed to be a clergy deputy as well as the Dean of the Cathedral. It was the single highlight of 2015 and will go down as the most historically significant moment in our Cathedral’s history to date in terms of what a small Cathedral can do to have a world-wide impact. Listen to the comments from two of our Church’s highest leaders.
· President of the House of Deputies, The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings writes:
I was very glad to meet you in Salt Lake City. I am writing to thank you for your welcome and hospitality. I am particularly appreciative of the musical offering played in my honor- that was a first for me!
I hope you have some time for rest and renewal this summer! Sincerely, Gay 25 July 2015
And the Presiding Bishop Katherine Jeffers-Shori in 2015 writes:
Dear Dean Waldon,
Thank you again for your hospitality to the Bishops of this Church during the election process. The arrangements you made for us were thoughtful, lovely, and complete.
Thank you as well for the corduroy bag and the lovely photo of a snow bound Salt Lake City. Many of those in attendance would have welcomed a little snow!
May your ministry be a blessing to the people of Salt Lake and beyond. Shalom, Katherine. 14 July 2015
When I spoke with the newly elected Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, he said to thank the good people of the Cathedral. At his seating and installation at the National Cathedral, Bishops and people from around the world shook my hand thanking me for the kindness and hospitality of this Cathedral. YOU DID THIS! You were responsible for the warm welcome our visitors received. And know that there were many more emails and phone calls from lay people, priests, and Bishops.
On the 28th of December, The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, the President of the House of Bishops wrote m e again. This time to congratulate me on being selected as a nominee for Bishop of Northern Indiana. Promising her faithful prayers she reflected on the time she stood for Bishop and was not selected. She said it was a time for her to think about who she was, what she believed, and what she had to offer. For her, regardless of the outcome, that was her grace. It was a reminder to me of the legacy that General Convention brought to this state, to this city, to this Diocese, to this Cathedral, and to me. General Convention gave us the opportunity to reflect on who we are and to share that with the world.
The world heard that we are a unique people. We may argue, we may squabble, and we may at times- be all too human. But in the end we are family and family trumps all. The world saw our LGBT community work next to those who still struggle with same gender marriage. They saw our progressive theological minded serving tea and scones next to our more theological conservative members. They saw a priest step aside so that a lay cantor could sing. They saw a lay person step aside to give a clergy with unique talents an opportunity to shine. The world saw that we thought about whom we were and the answer came loud and clear. We are the Cathedral of St. Mark- a place where you can be who you are, as you are, with no human being passing judgment. They saw 148 hearts beat, as one.
It was during this convention that I began to speak with Bishops and others who encouraged me to consider allowing my name to be moved to the Episcopacy. As I listened to these voices I kept coming back to one phrase: “This feeling must be shared with the larger world!” And so it was that my name was moved forward to become the Bishop of Northern Indiana.
As Lisa and I toured the Diocese during the Walk About with the other four nominees, there was not a place that we visited that someone did not thank me for hosting General Convention and ask me how the Cathedral did so much. They recognized that we had found a way to grow. We have found a way to co-exist with our LDS neighbors. We have found a way to be voice in the politics of this state. Not the type of political voice that an action committee carries, but a Christian voice that constantly reminds the legislature of the poor and destitute.
I may not be elected to become the 8th Bishop of Northern Indiana and that is ok because the election is not the point. The point is that the Holy Spirit is moving in the Diocese of Northern Indiana and the Spirit of God is moving in this great Cathedral. It is stirring within all of our hearts.
I was called into that process to remind the faithful of that Diocese that they matter. They have a future. That the challenges they have are real, but their faith is strong! I was called to articulate a vision of hope that includes all of God’s children. I was called to dream with them of vision that was true to my core. This is what Rev. Jennings is speaking to in her letter to me. Out of that process comes a renewed Dean with a clear vision for this Cathedral. She is saying to stop for a moment. Hit the pause button on the remote of my life. Think about whom I am and what I have to offer.
What has changed in these last 12 months is that our Cathedral is on the radar of Episcopalians across the Globe. We have received messages from as far away as Liberia and Italy. Bishops from third world countries have posted their pictures in our Cathedral.
We have been cited as the only Cathedral in the history of the Episcopal Church to host as many programs as we did in 2015. During my interview in the springs of 2011, I told the search committee that I believed that this Cathedral had the potential to be a voice in the Episcopal Church. I was wrong. We have become a voice in the Anglican Communion!
What has changed for me during this last 12 months is that I am now seen as a voice that extends beyond the Cathedral doors. Invitations to speak at other places as well as the opportunity to consider new callings have come my way. Yet I stay engaged and drawn to this Cathedral. It is place of holiness.
In Northern Indiana, I traveled on a bus with a person who served on the Church Development Institute Faculty (CDI) that came to Salt Lake City. She said that when she was in the Cathedral, she stopped to pray. Her reflection was that this was an extremely Holy place where God can be found. And that is my vision. We must overcome the challenges that face us, so that the spirit we started during the convention may continue to bless this world.
Our first challenge in 2016 is to put into place a lasting stewardship plan. For over a decade and half we have relied on one special benefactor to give to our budget almost 35-40% in operating expenses. This person is a very loving, caring, and generous individual who loves this Cathedral. But, as with all things, it is time for us to understand that this person announced recently that such a huge gift was no longer possible. The gift this year was very generous. But it is not what it has been in the past. The reality is that we must now make up 25-30% of that loss for 2016. When you combine that with the huge stock market loss and the funds in our endowment not performing at acceptable levels, you can understand why I will be making an appeal in stewardship giving this year that is strong. But here is the good news. We have enough money! The bad news? It is still in your pocket. My goal is to challenge you to give, not until it hurts, but until it feels good! We must grow over the next 5 years by 15% a year and I truly believe we can do that, especially with the growth we are seeing at this Cathedral.
In 2010 a national consultant told us that we were $150,000 - 200,000 below what would be expected of giving for a congregation of our means. The good news is that my first two years with you saw a leap of great increase in giving under Mark Lewan’s leadership of the stewardship drive. Then, some complaints came forward and we slowed down our approach. We toned it down and the result was that the giving was flat. It showed us that Stewardship thrives when we communicate and make it a focus.
When we had the TENS Stewardship Conference here at the Cathedral we also learned that we are below the giving threshold for Episcopalians. And that is the other side of the coin of a generous giver. When people know that you meet operating money, people tend not to give as much- because ... someone else will do it! Now it is your turn.
It is up to you and me- to US- to propel this Cathedral forward in 2016. At one time we had a Dean, A Canon Pastor, a Canon Precentor, a Deacon, an Administrator, an office assistant, large music department, a Sexton, and a Dean’s personal assistant. What most didn’t realize is that we were paying for only 2 1/5 in salary with no salary paid to the Dean. Now our staff is about ½ that size. We will need your help. But we can do it. It is time to live into a healthy Stewardship giving at this Cathedral. The Episcopal Church has 10% as its standard of giving. This has been affirmed at convention after convention. But I have said it many times. If you are struggling, God does not want you to go without food or healthcare. Proportional giving means that you give 1% or 3 % or 8% until one day you arrive at 10%! And unlike some denominations, and hear me clearly, your salvation does not depend on how much you give. Your giving is a sign of your salvation: giving back to God so that others may be blessed as you are blessed.
The first thing to highlight in this stewardship challenge is General Convention. The funds that were used to put on the special programs and to pay for the special things needed were donated, funded by grants, or given by several- I repeat- several donors. Not one single penny of budgeted operating expenses was used. But as you will learn in the report during our annual meeting, the funding was placed in operating which made it seem that we were using those funds.
To complicate matters, we had one of the most famous Episcopal Church architectural firms come to the Cathedral for ONLY $1,000 to do a thorough analysis for us and help us create a plan for the future. For those business minded among you, you realize that a survey like this with their expenses would normally cost well north of $8,000. But they did it because of the relationship that they had with me and the fact that they are really good, genuine people. They have been with us all along and are still helping us create a sustainable plan for the future of this Cathedral and they are helping us vision for the future.
What we discovered in this process were things like the roof leaking, leeching water through the walls from an underground spring, painting needs, and the list goes on and on. Then, during this time, we discovered moths had eaten the felt threatening our beautiful instrument. It is a problem that downtown Salt Lake City is experiencing. These are just a few examples of things that we had to address and why we have spent funds out of special set-asides for maintenance.
Your vestry wisely decided to create a plan to fix these issues with a plan for future maintenance so that each year we do something small to prevent larger issues from occurring. I am proud of your vestry for their due diligence.
We also addressed these problems with our savings that were specifically designated for these repairs as well as applying for insurance help from our policy. You will learn in our financial report later today that all of these projects came in under budget. But it shows that maintaining a historic building is expensive. Two cases in point, our Deans Hall refrigerator in the kitchen stopped working Friday and the projector is beginning to crash with an estimated $4,000 - $6,000 tag to fix it. When you place this along with the leak in the Narthex and the need for a humidifier in the Nave to preserve the wood and organ – well you get the idea- it is expensive. To address these problems, I will announce some changes over the next 45 days and will communicate these to you as they unfold.
Also your Vestry is creating several new committees. First is the Budget Committee. We will spend the next year in intensive training and learning about the Episcopal policies on spending and budgeting. This committee will work with me and the Treasurer in creating avenues for savings and financial growth while looking at additional revenue streams.
The next committee is a full blown Stewardship Committee. This committee will be charged by me with three things.
· First create for us a viable stewardship plan that is aggressive enough to increase our stewardship 10-15% each year with a goal of five years having enough operating so that your needs are met, the bills are paid, and we have a solid financial plan without relying on any one person or foundation. Second we will explore a plan for estate planning within our stewardship so that generations to come can benefit by the generosity of those who entered larger life before they were born. Thirdly they will explore the possibility of additional revenue streams both short and long range in nature. The streams will range between short term grants to a capital fund drive.
The Investment Committee will be charged with one additional task. We are members of the Consortium of Episcopal Endowed Parishes or CEEP. It is a group of Episcopal Churches who have endowments. I will ask our Financial Committee to explore the resources of our CEEP colleagues to see if we are using best standard practices- which I believe that we are; to explore ways to maximize our interest; and to use their full resources to benefit our Cathedral. If we do these things, I think that we will be well on our way to a healthy tomorrow and we will make it through what I see is a transitional year.
The next part of my vision for us is to use our gifts. If we had 148 volunteers who opened their hearts, used their hands, and welcomed the world to one of the most historic Cathedrals in America, why can’t these same 148 people continue to bless us?
Growth is one sure way of meeting the economic challenges of tomorrow. It is time for you in the pew to use your talents and your thoughts. Beginning in February, you will see all boxes that say- “HEY DEAN RAY”
It is a box where you will drop in notes. For example, “Hey Dean Ray can we have a monthly meeting of young mothers?” Or you might say, “Hey Dean Ray, I am a computer expert and would love to volunteer.” And you could even add your thoughts like, “Hey Dean Ray, I know you like to have us stand for the confession, but I think we all should kneel or lie down on the floor with our arms extended.” Okay, that last one may not be something I want to read about.
But the point is that this is my way of continuing to keep the channels of communication open. My door is open to you, always. But I think that sometimes a thought may occur to you and if you are like me, if you don’t act on it, you forget. So when something occurs, just drop a note to say, “Hey Dean Ray…” I need your help. We need more volunteers in the office, more volunteers to help with projects. These boxes will be excellent ways to help as I will post volunteer opportunities near them.
A few of the challenges to highlight for 2016 started in 2015. Our computer was taken hostage. The FBI says that this was a "Ransom-Ware" attack that was caused by someone opening a malicious email. Our computer protection is top notch so no data was breached. What happened, however, in terms that are simple, is that our encrypted drive had a lengthy password installed on it. This means that without the password we cannot get to the data. The data could not be downloaded so it was safe, but we could not get to it. Our IT contractor said the best solution was to destroy the data which we did. We lost the parish directory, the key assignments for changing of the locks along with the programming, and the website materials.
This was the second attack within 60 days. It is the age we live in. You may ask, “What about backups?” What we discovered would take a lot longer than I have time this morning. I am looking at retaining a special IT firm for the Cathedral that will save us money in 2016 and I will present their material at our next Vestry retreat. Do know that we have made an upgrade to help with this issue in the future. I wish to say a special thank you to our parishioner, Joe Fatel, for his help in helping rebuild all of these projects. Joe is a specialist with OverStock and designs their computer platform systems. We are lucky to have him.
In the midst of these computer challenges, we were overloaded with ministry and events. Let’s face it, we are a Cathedral and as a Cathedral we are called upon for many exciting opportunities. We began with Diocesan Convention. Then four weeks later, rising to the challenge, we hosted 500 people for nurses pinning from Westminster and then hosted several hundred students from Rowland Hall’s for their annual Cathedral event in May. In June and July, along with many other events from weddings to funerals to interfaith meetings, we hosted the 78th General Convention. Then we barely got our breath when we hosted events for the International Parliament of the World’s Religions in October. Thank you again to Josie Stone for helping organize these events as our volunteer extraordinaire.
Again our Docents were active – thank you Peter Atherton and the Cathedral was full use including the major Jewish meeting in our Deans Hall. This was quickly followed by the Diocesan Annual Convention. Lindsay Adams and Kurt Cook we could not have done it without you! Our choir, under the direction of Chris Wooten, our employee of the year- you gave us a convention to remember! Adam Hanson, your playing at General Convention was remarkable.
From Convention we jumped into a special edition of our Annual Meeting, our Fall Festival, our Thanksgiving services, and then immediately into Lessons and Carols with Sheriff Jim Winder, Apostle David Bendar, and other leaders. This was a fund raiser for the 4th street Clinic having a $16,000 financial compact with a series of matching grants. This was followed by the fund raiser for Hildegade’s Pantry which was a performance of “Artaban the Other Wiseman” led by Gale Frandsen and freely contributed by composer Daniel Carter and national television vocal coach Mindy Pack and her students. Immediately on the heels of that were the Advent music series with our sterling choir under interim director Christopher Wooten. Then came the world-wide video broadcast of our Christmas Eve Midnight Mass service which saw almost 600 people attend!
And now here we are, yet again. We begin with our Annual meeting today, then within the next 100 days, we are ready to host the Diocesan Clergy for a special Chrism Mass service, Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, Ash Wednesday service, our Lenten Wednesday Night five week series, the community Stations of the Cross with the procession ending at the Cathedral for a service, Holy Week which will see over 100 volunteers help, and of course the world-wide video broadcast of the Easter Mass followed by our hosting Diocesan Convention with 300 more people on campus! Also we will have BYU’s Chaplain Program back on Campus for training, the CDI meeting is here, along with our other meetings of Narcotics Anonymous, Al-A-Non, and so many other groups. Later this month I will publish the official statistics of the Cathedral which will give you further clarity on just how active we have been this past year. Whew.
I can honestly say that your Dean and his staff are running ragged. But it is a Holy tired. It is a good tired. Thank goodness that Father Tyler Doherty is on staff. What a fireball he has been. Hiring him was the best decision I made in 2015, don’t you agree? His family has added so much to our Christian family. His wife, Michelle, and the kids have truly added so much. I can’t wait until those three rug-rats are old enough to acolyte! And you should know that it was Father Tyler’s idea to have daily Morning Prayer and that he volunteered to mentor the Vergers Guild to get them certified. Our entire staff is a blessing.
The Holy Spirit has called me to you and you to me. Together we will share our dreams and our talents and together we will get through the tough times, we will celebrate the joys of our common lives, and we will never forget that we are here for only one reason. We are the people of the Jesus movement.
Our Presiding Bishop says that ALL Episcopalians are members of the Jesus Movement in a branch called the Episcopal Church. All of us are walking to Galilee. It is a movement that says that we exist to spread the good news or the GOSPEL of JESUS Christ! We are to give hope to the captives, to feed the hungry, to clothe the poor, and to love those who have no one else but us to love them.
There is a bumper sticker that says HONK if you love Jesus. I think it should say. Honk if you LIKE Jesus, if you LOVE him get out of your care and do something! That is what we are doing at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark. We are doing something! We impact 30,000 people out of Hildegarde’s Pantry. We are open to the interfaith community. We are a resource to the Diocese. We are looked up to by the churches and clergy in this Diocese as a symbol of what good people can do when they put their minds to it and their hearts in it.
Finally, as I begin my 6th year with you – and I did turn 60 yesterday- please know it is a blessing and a privilege to be your Rector and your Dean. May God continue to bless us with all that we need for 2016 to continue to evangelize the Good News that Jesus lives. My heart-felt “thanks” for an incredible year of evangelism. People found peace within these walls because of you. They found there is a God and that our God loves them. And because of you, the Cathedral Church of St. Mark has taken its place among the best known Cathedrals in America.
I want to end as I have begun with yet another note from someone touched by you and this Cathedral. It brings to life hope. It brings Romans 8:23-24 to life!! This Cathedral gives us hope.
Good morning Dean Waldon, Just a quick note of thanks for our conversation yesterday, and for your enabling me to visit the church's timeline and historical elements, so nicely and artfully showcased in the lower level of the building. I very much enjoyed my visit to the cathedral, and found the building itself to be among the most beautiful Anglican houses of worship I've seen. All good wishes on your continued work as Dean of the cathedral, and in the ministry of Anglican Christianity in a city with a heavy footprint of LDS practice. I hope you'll have another chance to visit Trinity, and to deliver a message from its pulpit.
David 28 January 2016
David is a faithful member of Trinity Wall Street and heard from his priest that he should visit the Cathedral in Salt Lake City. He worshipped with us and then toured our beautiful space. He is one of several dozen people who have since pilgrimage to this Cathedral as a direct result of the General Convention of 2015. In fact, some of our newest members were first exposed to this Cathedral during that convention. It has forever sealed our name and linked forever in the minds of those who attended of how the Body of Christ can unite. How people of different races and backgrounds and means can unite. How visions can be realized.
The Cathedral Church of St. Mark truly stands out as a shining example of what it means to be Episcopalian. I am honored to be your Dean and your friend. May God bless us with all that we need in 2016. After all, we a Cathedral of HOPE and we share the HOPE that Jesus Christ brings!
The Very Reverend Raymond J. Waldon
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