Today, October 6, is the Commemoration of St. Faith. Sometimes known as St. Foy, she was a young girl who lived in the Aquitaine region of France and was martyred for her faith in Jesus at the end of the 3rd or beginning of the 4th century (approx. AD 297-304). She was probably one of thousands of Christians martyred during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. According to St. Jerome, she was martyred by being made to lie down on a red hot brazier (notice the brazier depicted on the St. Faith’s Banner). St. Faith is, of course, the namesake of St. Faith Episcopal Church, Havertown. This past July, many of us were present for the emotional service of de-consecration at the building which once held that congregation. Without denying how difficult the closing of that parish was and is, we have also worked to honor the legacy of St. Faith here at Holy Apostles. That is why we have adopted St. Faith as one of our patron saints, and why we are celebrating her feast day this morning.
It is also why we have created the St. Faith Preachers Series. For over a year, the vestry and I have worked on creating this unique and dynamic program. The idea is two-fold. First, we want to honor St. Faith in an enduring way. Second, aware that I am a solo, male priest and preacher here at Holy Apostles, we want to find a way to bring diversity to our pulpit, and to honor and raise up women leaders in our parish and the Church at large. It is vitally important that our daughters and granddaughters see women in the pulpit and at the altar of this, their church. The St. Faith Preachers Series will accomplish those twin goals by inviting excellent, strong, and established women preachers to preach for us once or twice a year. We will also invite one promising, woman seminarian a year to preach for us. Bringing guest preachers here takes money, so last December the vestry devoted $500 of this year’s budget toward this project. In the meantime, we asked Virginia Theological Seminary, an Episcopal seminary in the Washington, D.C. metro area (and my alma mater), if they would be willing to partner with us in this program. The seminary responded generously by giving Holy Apostles $3,000 for the continuation of the St. Faith Preachers Series. I will be working with the Seminary to identify and invite a seminarian to preach for us in the Spring. But, this Sunday we are also very honored and blessed to inaugurate the St. Faith Preachers Series with one of Virginia Theological Seminary’s most accomplished and revered professors, The Rev. Dr. Kathy Grieb.
Dr. Grieb is the Meade Professor of Biblical Interpretation and Professor of New Testament at the seminary where she has taught since 1994. She was ordained to the priesthood in 1983 in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and serves on the clergy team of St. Stephen’s and the Incarnation church in Washington DC. Dr. Grieb earned a law degree from Catholic University, an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Yale. A noted theologian, Dr. Grieb serves on the House of Bishops Theology Committee. She represented the Episcopal church at the World Council of Churches Plenary Session in 2009, and is a member of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity and Faith. She is a long-time instructor for the Canterbury Scholars program at Canterbury Cathedral in England.
Dr. Grieb has written numerous articles and written and edited several important books. My favorite is The Story of Romans (Westminster Press, 2002), which is an accessible and profound guide to reading St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. Dr. Grieb, was my New Testament professor when I attended Virginia Theological Seminary from 2014-2017. I learned a lot from her about Scripture, theology, and about living the in the way of Jesus. I am very grateful to her for that, and for being with us this morning. I know the Holy Apostles family will warmly welcome our first St. Faith Preacher.