All of life is bittersweet. I write to you all with a balance of sadness and hopefulness for the future. Over the last month, I received a call to the care of souls and to serve as the Rector of Church of the Holy Trinity in North Augusta, SC. The sad part is leaving All Saints. We are a parish of people marked by peace, stability, good leadership, financial stability, and most of all, love for one another and those outside of our community. It’s hard to leave such a people.
I came to All Saints like many others who I’ve encountered in the parish. I was wounded within ministry. My confidence was shot. For the first time in my life, I struggled with anxiety and depression. I felt God calling me to finish out the last half of my pastoral life as an Anglican priest, but I had no assurance that such a journey could be completed. I was finishing my seminary studies, re-establishing my business, caring for my large family, trying to assimilate into a new parish of people, and serving God in new and creative ways. Life was intense to say the least.
So many of you helped me and my family in so many ways through this tough and rewarding season. You shared your finances. You counseled me. You bought me lunches and coffee. You prayed for me. You laughed with me and you cried with me. And finally, you made me a priest.
The call to priesthood is a communal call. You affirmed what God had spoken in me. On a different occasion, I wrote these words about the priesthood: a priest is a gift to the local Christian congregation. However, the local congregation is a gift to each priest that serves that particular people. Through the love of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, both priest and congregation serve one another to form their identity and their ministry. Father Vincent Donovan sums up
this relationship in Christ perfectly: “No Christian community could long exist without a priest...It is only now that I am beginning to see that no priest can exist without a community.”
I could not have existed without each of you at All Saints. You clothed me with vestments and stoles and clergy shirts. You gave me the tools to carry the Eucharist and the prayers of the Church to the sick and the elderly. Through your prayers and acts of love to me and my family, I am indebted with a debt that I cannot begin to pay. I pray that our great God will reward each of you at the resurrection of the righteous.
The fundamental rule of my life is to follow Jesus. As I follow him into this new avenue of ministry, pray for me and Katherine that we will be a blessing to Church of the Holy Trinity. Pray that God will increase that parish as God has increased All Saints. Our hearts are full of thankfulness for all that All Saints means to us.
And may the Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace. The Peace of Christ to you all.