Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A New Adventure

Some of you have been kind enough to note your concern over my sporadic posting over the last year. I've deeply appreciated your concerns. I am now in a better position to explain to you a little more regarding what has been going on.

The first factor is that during the year that this site went dormant, other sites continued to expand their coverage of things Anglican, making many of our previous discussions here rather redundant. Specifically, some of the blogs that grew out of our conversations here have found their own fine voices. The Friends of Jake and The Three Legged Stool immediately come to mind as examples.

Beyond that, Episcopal Cafe has emerged as the model of the way a news and conversation website needs to be structured. Their combination of The Lead as a team-blogging news source, Daily Episcopalian as a place for more lengthy, reflective essays, along with the daily readings offered by Speaking from the Soul and the beauty of the Art Blog makes The Episcoapl Cafe by far the most thorough resource for information and inspiration among the Anglican sites on the net today.

When combined with other trusted sites, such as the consistently solid reporting of Thinking Anglicans, the moving stories of Elizabeth Kaeton and the insightful commentary of Mark Harris, there didn't seem to be a whole lot left, of a constructive nature, for me to add to the conversation. So, I've been listening to others, and appreciating their efforts.

The second factor is more difficult to speak about. I continue to have very mixed emotions regarding my year at the Episcopal Church Center. Perhaps I entered that phase of minstry with some rather naive expectations of the Episcopal Church. And no doubt I made more than a few poor judgments based on those unrealistic expectations. To sum up a wide spectrum of experiences, I walked away from that brief ministry not only humbled, but also deeply disappointed. Since I continue to think very highly of some of those still pursuing the mission of The Episcopal Church Center, I think I'll just leave it at that, for now.

So, the last ten months have involved a lot of soul searching and prayer, seeking God's call to the next adventure. I've done quite a bit of supply work, which, to be quite frank, often added to my disappointment. We have so many good congregations that simply can no longer support a full time seminary trained clergy person. It is past time for us to seriously explore other models of ministry, in every diocese.

I ended up doing some interim ministry, which I actually enjoy quite a bit. You have five specific goals to accomplish, and then you move on. But, in the long run, it is a rather nomadic way to do ministry, and I'm afraid I'm just getting too old to continue the "wandering preacher" routine. I'm currently living in an apartment far from my wife and my grandkids. The church community is wonderful, and has re-awakened my passion for parish ministry, but I miss being home.

But, that is all to change soon. I've been called as Rector of a parish here in New Jersey. I've been in quite a few search processes over the last year, and this was the first one which strongly stood out as a real "call" by God. What made the difference? Little things, like a homeless shelter on the grounds, a food pantry which feeds 100 families a week, a parish hall functioning as a community center Monday through Friday, a worship space which seats 200, but doesn't have airline seating, so still feels intimate, and a group of people passionate about proclaiming the Good News of God's redemptive love in both word and deed. Minor things, to many folks, perhaps. But they called out to me.

And so, a new adventure begins. I'll once again be a parish priest. Perhaps my passion for things happening within "the bigger picture" will return. At this point, I just don't know. All I do know is that I'm once again following God's call, and find myself at peace. Thanks be to God.

Pray for this new ministry.

Pray for the Church.