Those of you who were at my ordination, (lo, those many years ago in 2017) may remember that part of the ordination charge is that a priest should “take [their] share in the councils of the church.” This means that priests are expected to take part in the wider activities of the diocese and the Episcopal church as a whole. In fact, it is a requirement built into my letter of employment as your Rector that I will participate in diocesan activities and committees. I do not often talk about all the ways I am involved in the diocese, mostly out of some sense of (false?) humility—I don’t want to sound too self-congratulatory. On the other hand, my parish family deserves to know what I am up to. Some of the stuff I am able to do for the diocese is really exciting, and I would love to share it and find ways to invite you all to take part. So here is what I’m up to these days:
Commission of Ministry
This is my second year of a 6 year term on the Commission on Ministry. This group is primarily charged with vetting potential new members of the clergy and guiding applicants through the ordination process. This year we have around 15 applicants, half to be deacons and half to be priests. Members of the Commission read an extensive packet that is prepared by each applicant and their sending parish. Then we conduct extensive interviews and must reach a consensus together on whether to recommend them to the bishop for the next steps in the ordination process. I also “shepherd” someone who is already in the ordination process. I check in with him regularly to see how he is doing and if he needs anything during his time studying for the priesthood at my alma mater, Virginia Theological Seminary.
Last summer the bishop asked me to join a group of about a dozen clergy to respond to the massive upheaval and unrest that was taking place in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. The group was ultimately tasked with confronting systemic racism within our diocesan structures themselves and creating a comprehensive strategic plan for becoming an anti-racist diocese. The bishop challenged us at every turn to do our work from within a theological and biblical framework. This was not just an exercise in being “woke” or keeping up appearances, this was about listening to the Holy Spirit and seeking transformation. After an extensive review of the work and adoption by various diocesan governance structures, the work of the Loving Presence group is/was released on Saturday June 19th during the diocesan Juneteenth Commemoration. (Include information on how to join). The group’s work is done, but the real work, the work of racial reconciliation is ongoing.
This committee was tasked with implementing a process for reviewing what sorts of liturgies are used by parishes throughout the diocese, collecting innovative ideas, and working on improving education about the Book of Common Prayer and the renewal of our worship life in the diocese. Currently, I am the co-chair of this committee. We have a bunch of irons in the fire that range from helping smaller parishes and mission churches find good musical and liturgical resources, to a “zine” that introduces young people to the service of Compline, especially young people who don’t have much or any involvement in the church and those in this niche, DIY, “punk” sub-culture (I don’t know how to describe it: google “zine” and see for yourself). I am very excited about this latter project and hope to share the finished product with you soon, especially those of you who attend our online Compline services. Our Compline services were a huge inspiration for the project.
Alternate Delegate to General Convention
At the last Diocesan Convention, I was elected to be an alternate delegate to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which will be held in the Summer of 2022 in Baltimore. The General Convention meets every three years (4 years this time, because of COVID), and deliberates on all sorts of things, including the budget for the Episcopal Church. I am an alternate, which means that if another deputy cannot be at every single legislative session, I will be called upon to fill in. It also means that I’ll get to hang out in Baltimore next summer with a few thousand Episcopalians from all over the world, and that will be a lot of fun.
— In all of this, I try to represent Holy Apostles well. The love and support and prayer and fantastic community of Holy Apostles sustains me, and funds all the work that I do. I am deeply grateful for opportunities to share and spread your gifts with the wider diocese and Church. Thank you! If you are interested in any of this work, let me know. I am looking for ways to include the parish more organically in some of this work.