City church engages the community

VERGENNES — St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Vergennes has been engaged in a two-year training program exploring how churches can pursue both community engagement and historic preservation.
Parishioners decided that the recent Vergennes Day was a great opportunity for St. Paul’s, located in the center of the city, to engage with its neighbors, and church members chose to ask people “Who is your local hero?” Passersby answered with messages written on colorful cards that were strung along the sidewalk on the side of the green. Many visitors were happily surprised to see their names displayed (including Sue O’Daniel, band director; Police Chief George Merkel; and Lee and Judy Martel of the Vergennes Food Shelf).
This exercise is part of St. Paul’s effort this fall to  solicit community input on the social and historic value of our church and to envision new uses of our space. The church has brought David Hohenshau of Middlebury on board to facilitate this phase of the project, which will culminate with an architectural design charrette this winter. 
Police Chief George Merkel smiles when he sees his name on a card that identifies him as a local hero. 

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