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St. Paul’s is proud to announce that the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi has selected our own Fr. Rob Courtney as a finalist to be the next Bishop of Mississippi. You can learn more about Mississippi’s process and election here. Below are letters from Fr. Rob and our Senior Warden Melissa Carnall Fauci responding to this honor. 

Dear friends,


I write to share with you that the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi has selected me to be on a final slate of five nominees to be their next Bishop. I am grateful to Bishop Duncan Gray for nominating me and for the confidence the Search and Standing Committees of Mississippi are placing in me. This is an incredible honor.


I love St. Paul’s deeply, and I want you to know this is not something I was seeking out, but it came seeking me. The last few months of discernment around this potential call have been demanding yet rewarding. As a priest I belong to the whole Church, not just to one congregation. That means being open to what the Holy Spirit may be calling me and my family to do.


It is also important for you to remember that Mississippi’s selection of me as a nominee is just that—a  nomination. The clergy and lay people of Mississippi will choose a Bishop-elect at their annual Diocesan Council on Feb. 3. I believe I am called to this journey whatever the outcome. I view it as a privilege to be of service to the Diocese of Mississippi by helping to discern what they are seeking in their next Bishop, and I am prayerfully open to the will of God and the Church in this process.


In the meantime, I remain fully committed to the work we are doing together at St. Paul’s. My focus and attention remain with you, and on what God is doing with us. The work of living our Rule of Life, “Growing in Relationships, Growing in Service, Growing in Christ,” continues and there is much work still to do.


Between now and the election on Feb. 3, I ask your prayers for the people of Mississippi in their discernment, for my fellow candidates, and for me and my family. 


Tonight, as part of our Wednesdays at Church (W@tCh) program, I will be talking a little about what bishops do, and how bishops are selected in The Episcopal Church. I’m happy to address questions or concerns then, or at any time in the future. 


Thank you for your support, and for all you do for me, my family, and St. Paul’s. It is a blessing to serve God and our community alongside you! Keep those prayers coming, and as always, keep the faith, St. Paul’s. 


God’s blessings,

Dear St. Paul's community,

Every week, the wardens meet with Fr. Rob to discuss church matters briefly over Zoom. One morning a few weeks ago, Fr. Rob spontaneously asked Miriam and I if we were free to meet in person. Immediately, I knew something was up. And boy, I wasn't wrong! 

While what Fr. Rob shared at that lunch meeting was surprising, it was not shocking or horrible to me, as I admittedly expected. It did, of course, bring a mixture of feelings--from pride that our rector would be considered for this role, to sadness that we could lose him as our shepherd, to excitement for Rob and the Church as I heard the energy (the Holy Spirit!) stirring in Fr. Rob's musings...wherever this may lead! 

What struck me most was the guidance Rob received when he shared his apprehensions with a friend. His friend told him that discerning this call was a service to the people of Mississippi, however the result plays out. Dioceses need more than one candidate to truly discern who God is calling to their community, in their time and place. Rob is providing our extended church family in Mississippi this service. 

And I dare say his discernment of this call is a service to us as well. Whether he stays or goes (and I know that a lot of us are secretly hoping he stays here with us!), this time of not knowing is a gift to us, too. We are reminded that we all are the Church, not just Fr. Rob. We are reminded that we are all actually the ministers of the church (lay people, deacons, priests, and bishops, BCP855). We are reminded that amidst all the change and uncertainty of life, our constant is God, a God who is with us in all that we walk through. 

Be assured that the vestry, all lay leaders, and the diocese are fully in support of both Fr. Rob and of St. Paul's. Whatever is next for us as a faith community, we will not walk this road alone. Our good work of "Growing in Relationships, Growing in Service, and Growing in Christ" will continue wholeheartedly. 

In Christ,

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