In 1985, the Vestry went on record as supporting the idea of an assistant. The Newsletter spoke to the changes in the parish.
“Until recently Fredericksburg was a small one-industry community. Life was simpler, more comfortable, less demanding. St. George’s was amply served by one minister, some secretarial help, a part-time sexton and a few volunteers.
“Not so today. We serve a fast growing community, a rich mixture of diverse peoples with changing lifestyles, commuters, working spouses, day care centers – – a vigorous lifestyle but more stressful and more demanding and more complicated.
“The rector is working 60 hours a week or more hours a week with an ever-heavier administrative and pastoral workload, including a dramatic increase in counseling. He must set priorities and curtail some pastoral care and ministries he knows are helpful and expected, such as non-emergency home visitations.”
It also provided a solution. The curate will “begin some new ministry and will help share the pastoral and administrative load so they can fill the needs of our parish.”
The article pointed to more than a second clergy – adding part time secretarial help, adding a full time janitor and create neighborhood shepherding groups.
Highlighting the need after the article was that Sydnor was out of the office for November and December as a leave of absence due to illness until the Vestry met again in January . The Bishop desired to involved in planning an assistant for St. George’s in 1986.
Helping to ease the cost of an assistant was the Barrow family who donated their house, 1200 Winchester Street, in Fredericksburg for a year while accepting temporary accommodations elsewhere.
Out of 5 applicants, the Rev. Judith Fleming was selected in April, 1986. She was curate at St. Michael’s Naugatuck, Conn. When her rector left, she also had to resign per canon law. She began at St. George’s July 1, 1986. Her exact responsibilities were not detailed in her work agreement.
She made contributions to the Ever Member Canvass process suggesting that new parishioners not be called but visited. The Vestry Minutes highlighted her work schedule from Nov 20 – Dec. 10, 1986. She worked with the Human Needs Commission the precursor of Outreach, worked with Avis Harris on evaluating and planning the Christian Ed program. She talked in her annual report about creating an audio visual library, improving the library and starting an after school program. She made 11 Parish visits, 5 hospital calls, had two meetings with Diocesan groups and preached at the Community Thanksgiving Service in that time period.
Her passion seemed to be mission and was excited about acquainting the parish with opportunities for mission. She also seemed exciting working with young people. She help to start a joint young adults group between Aquia Episcopal and Saint George’s. In 1987, she helped to start a Junior High Youth Group. She tried to get other groups at St. George’s together such as trying to establish a singles group.
In 1987, she began St. George’s participation at Shrine Mont for a retreat which is still being continued today. On that first trip, May 15-17, 30 people enjoyed the retreat. The theme for the adults was “Lord what would you have me to do.” Holly Schum wrote after the event “collectively we became closely knit, a supportive community in our lives and in our ministries.” She said it was “the most important event in her life.”Connie Smith added “it was not just a retreat from, but a retreat to.” She saw it as a “family sharing in the spirit.”
Fleming taught the adult forum several times on Biblical subjects, the Book of Common Prayer and the Bible, the role of lay ministry, and in Easter stories of the appearance of Jesus after the resurrection. She also provided discussion on controversial subjects, such as abortion concentrating on the moral and ethical issues.
Her time at St. George’s ended when she submitted her resignation to effective March 14, 1989 for an opportunity to become rector of Grace Church, Goochland, VA. She is currently (2017) Rector at Church of the Holy Mount, Ruidoso, New Mexico
Charles summarized her work “I am grateful for your outstanding leadership in the area of Human Need and for your giving us a wider vision of the foundation and nature of Christian Education” though he admitted the church had struggled accepting this wider vision.