After five-and-a-half years at the helm of St. Stephen's, the Rev. Mark Delcuze is moving on come mid-November.
Delcuze accepted a position as rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Beverly Farms, MA. He notified the St. Stephen's congregation in late July.
Relaxing into conversation after being assured he didn't need to change into his robes to look more "priesty" for a photo opportunity, Delcuze, 52, said Monday that he feels he's leaving St. Stephen's in a strong position to weather the remainder of the recession and to allow his successor to decide the direction of the congregation's future.
He oversaw a recession-necessitated staff restructuring at the parish, which included dividing some jobs from one full-time position into two part-time ones.
And he's done this while leading a 900-member congregation—solo for the past 15 months, as the assistant rector position has stayed unfilled since its previous occupant moved on. An optimal parishioner population is about 150 congregants per rector, Delcuze said.
"My hope is that, as the economic conditions improve, that the staffing will expand naturally back to a level that allows more ministry to go on," he said.
Delcuze, who decided on a life of religious service after a mission trip to Ghana at age 16, said that, after departing from Ridgefield, he would most miss CHIRP concerts and the welcoming Ridgefield clergy community.
But before he leaves, Delcuze is weaving himself further into the fabric of St. Stephen's; he is walking his elder daughter, a Ridgefield High School graduate, down the aisle here and then officiating over her vows.
"I'm going to miss him terribly," said Ted Seibert, a member of the church vestry, or elected steering committee, and co-chairman of last weekend's Nutmeg Festival. Seibert sat in a small room in the parish offices early Monday afternoon with his wife, Lori, and church bookkeeper Kay Gelfman.
Gelfman said that the St. Stephen's staff sees Delcuze as a great leader.
"The staff is going to miss him. How can I say that more forcefully?" she said.