I am sharing this now with clergy and lay leaders in our diocese for two reasons. First, I want to encourage clergy to accept that invitation when it comes to you. Don’t put it off. Don’t say you can’t afford it – it’s a bargain. Don’t say you don’t have the time. Do it for the sake of the people you serve. Do it for yourself. And to lay leaders I would say – encourage and support your clergy when that time comes. It’s not a junket. It’s vital to clergy wellness. It’s good for the Church.
I also share this testimonial to CREDO, however, because I want to share that I’ll be joining a CREDO faculty team next month, with the support and encouragement of Bishop Fisher. I was asked to join a team last spring, just before attending CREDO in June as a participant. I was with the team that I’ll be joining this fall, so I got to see them in action. Each team has an administrator who handles all of the details, a conference leader, as well as faculty members who focus on health, spirituality, finances, and vocation. I spent a week in Denver being trained to serve as a member of the faculty focused on vocation.
I am excited about this and I hope you will share in my joy. When I was in Holden, two members of diocesan staff served as CREDO faculty: Sarah Shofstall and Bruce Rockwell. In addition, there were two parochial clergy (that I know of) that also served as faculty: Len Cowan and Mark Beckwith. I’m honored to be asked to do this and also consider it to be good for our diocese to be connected to this work again.
I’ve attended a lot of ordinations over the past three decades. There is a line in there that says that priests will “take their share in the councils of the Church.” (See
The Book of Common Prayer
, page 531.) This takes a different shape for each priest, and in each context. During the fifteen years I served as rector at St. Francis, Holden, I served in various capacities that pulled me to Springfield: as a member of Diocesan Council, as a deputy to General Convention, as Chair of the Commission on Ministry, and finally as Chair of the Profile Committee when we were looking for a new bishop in 2012. Most of my days were spent as pastor and preacher and teacher and priest in Holden, of course. They paid my salary! But these various roles were, as I understood them, part of what it meant to “take share in the councils of the Church” and I did so with the support and prayers of (at least most of) the people at St. Francis.
My work as Canon to the Ordinary is mostly focused on our clergy and congregations – particularly those in the midst of clergy transitions. When I am away from the diocese it is primarily an extension of this work – for example, in attending the bi-annual Transition Ministry Conferences. Like all clergy, I take time for my own personal Continuing Education time as well. But other than that, most of my days have been focused here. You all pay my salary!
But I am excited to have been asked to do this work in the larger Church, work that I believe in and work I think I’ll be pretty good at. While it will take me away from my diocesan commitments for two weeks a year, I believe it will be an extension of my work as a priest still called to share in the councils of the Church and to “build up the Body of Christ.” Always with God’s help.
I ask for your prayers.