The Rev. James F. Perra

An Episcopal Priest with Experience in Congregational Development and Ministry with Young People

A little background

Hi! I'm Jim, let's get acquainted...

1106 Woodheights Ave, Baltimore MD 21211

443.799.6723

mail@jamesperra.com

       

Ministry Portfolio

A little more about my experience and skills

Congregational Development

Church Growth

Since my first seminary internship when I hosted a “bowl-a-thon” to raise funds to repair a broken furnace, I have been problem solving and learning ways that churches can use entrepreneurship and creativity to grow and sustain both resources and a robust, attractive, outward-looking mission. I have practiced this in my own call and continue learning by participation in conferences such as “Buildings for a New Tomorrow“.

I have learned that convincing people to “drop in” and give church a try is a matter of listening for the needs of the surrounding community and then offering opportunities to have those needs met. This is a simple matter compared to the ongoing process of building a parish culture that is ready to welcome newcomers and adjust to the new gifts and needs they will bring.

Slides:

  1. Celebrating Major Rogation day with a “Beating the Boundaries” 5k fun-run
  2. Partnering with a local animal rescue for a basket-bingo fundraiser
  3. More furry fun, bringing the “Blessing of the Animals” back to the park
  4. Journalist Kimberly Dozier leads an adult formation session in fall of 2014
  5. Bringing Maundy Thursday out into the community with “Foot-washing To Go”

Ministry with Young People

Youth

For almost fifteen years I have worked with young people, primarily high school and college ages, helping them to build their own unique relationships with God, and to experience God in community with others. Outside of the church I have produced a theatre program that connected high school age artists with emerging professionals, supervised student-run organizations for a residential arts program at Michigan State University, led alternative spring trips in the United States and Canada, and provided health services and special needs counseling at a YMCA camp. Within the church I have mentored youth delegates at diocesan conventions, been on staff for various camps, led a contingent at Episcopal Youth Event, and worked several years on staff as a youth minister at a large urban parish.

Slides

  1. Delivering a Children’s Sermon
  2. Working at the Diocese of Western Michigan’s Episcopal Youth Camp
  3. “The Blessing of the Backpacks” at the Church of the Redemption
  4. Hosting Archbishop Desmond Tutu at an event at St. Paul’s Baltimore
  5. A Parade float for the Residential Option in Arts & Humanities (ROIAL) program at Michigan State

Solidarity, Social Justice, and Service Learning

Outreach

My family, and my parish family growing up, gifted me with a strong desire to be an agent of change, connection, and justice. In my roles as an educator and as a pastor I have sought to provide people with opportunities to take healthy risks and have “close encounters” with those very different and differently privileged than themselves. I have attempted to use my own privilege to advocate for those with marginalized voices, to build bridges, and to help those with power take responsibility for how it is used.

Slides:

  1. At a direct-action campaign by Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD)
  2. On a Habitat for Humanity mission trip with Episcopal Ministries and MSU
  3. Neighborhood clean-up with the Sixth Branch’s Operation Oliver
  4. With the Diocese of Western Michigan’s rebuilding mission to New Orleans after hurricane Katrina
  5. Hosting students from St. Timothy’s school who volunteered to repaint our Sunday School room at Redemption
  6. Visiting a women’s AIDS clinic in Nicaragua during a study abroad learning about solidarity programs with developing countries

Creative and Performing Arts

Arts

I began working behind the scenes in theatrical production when I was nine years old and have since carried a passion for the performing and creative arts that has added to my ministry in countless ways. While my call to ordained ministry came from many sources in my life, one of the most informative was the satisfaction I received from building a safe, supportive, loving, and creative community as the producer of a small theatre company. Over the years I have acted, run pyrotechnics, designed and implemented lighting, sung with a Capella groups, and directed; but the majority of my adult work has been in stage management and producing. The skills I have developed from this background have enabled me to create liturgy that makes up a cohesive, meaningful, narrative experience and to gently train participants to bring their best to worship. Beyond simple skits with youth groups, I have used improv games based on the work of Viola Spolin to build connections between people of all ages, and have even used such exercises at leadership meetings to maintain a creative and playful environment.

Slides:

  1. Acting in a production of “MacBeth” with the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
  2. At the Locust Point festival, paling around with the local chapter of the 501st legion
  3. Producing Gull Lake Sumer Theatre’s “All in the Timing” for Gull Lake Community Schools
  4. Lighting the new fire to begin the Great Vigil of Easter at the Church of the Redemption

Formation for Leadership

Leadership

Since my first time running a production as a Stage Manager I have been building a repertoire of intentional leadership skills. As an educator and pastor I have worked to learn ways to help parishioners of all ages to develop into healthy leaders in their own right. I began the study of leadership taking two years of Army ROTC, and by running operations for ASMSU, one of the largest student governments in the United States. I continued in seminary, participating in faculty governance, ecumenical worship, and the Canadian Theological Student Association. Prior to my ordination and call as priest-in-charge of a parish, the greatest opportunity I have had to learn about leadership has been my five years serving as a paramedic with the Baltimore County Fire Department, leading small teams responding to medical emergencies, teaching students in the Emergency Medical Services, and acting as part of a large team with a common mission. Through lessons easy and hard I have learned that leaders must be authentic while maintaining strong boundaries, follow through on commitments, and always remember that while a mission may come first, it is always built upon the healthy relationships of those involved.

Slides:

  1. Baltimore County Fire Department Station 11, Delta Shift group photo
  2. The Michigan State University Student Services Building, Home of ASMSU
  3. With some classmates in the Trinity College Chapel, the morning of graduation
  4. A cadet in MSU ROTC’s Spartan Battalion