Being named priest-in-charge at Calvary during this unexpected time of discernment and search for a new rector came at just the right moment for me. After being retired for a little over a year from St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City, I was becoming more than a little antsy. Conceptually retirement is nearly perfect, and in fact, it truly is good. But it is not perfect. It’s safe to say that it is good for everyone in my immediate circle that I am going back to work for a while.
And what a place to get to do that! I knew on my first visit that Calvary is a special place—vibrant, friendly, conscious of the world beyond its doors, steeped in the tradition and practice of the faith, extraordinarily multigenerational, and characterized by what feels like joy, not silly happiness (though I hope for some of that too) but joyful in a real way that holds all of life in a spirit of honest hope and genuine goodness. My job during these months will be to live in that space with you, bringing what I may have to enhance and deepen our common life, not for the sake of change but as a natural movement from one era of leadership to the next.
The staff, lay and clergy, is amazing. Their welcome of me at a time when they are deeply saddened by Chris’s leaving has been generous and genuine. The parish is in good hands with this group of professional, devout, and talented people. It is my privilege to work with each one of them. Although I am just getting to know the vestry and other leaders of the parish, they are an impressive group, devoted, competent, and surrounded by great esprit de corps, which deeply matters in a community of faith. You can be assured that your Wardens and their colleagues will provide stability and leadership as they empower the Search Committee to search for your next great rector. I will not be involved in the search; that is your job as a parish, a job for which you are spiritually and technically well prepared.
To be clear though, these months that we shall have together are not fallow time, not time simply to be filled. In some ways the Holy Spirit is particularly and creatively active during periods of liminality like this one. You, as a community, stand upon a threshold, facing another new beginning. Though you may not have wanted it, it is the new opportunity before you. It is a time of honoring with great intention the strength and power of your past while facing with excitement and promise what comes next, albeit with concomitant and, I hope, short-lived moments of anxiety. Liminality’s remarkable quality is its endless invitation to creativity and clarity.
We will be fine—all of us, but I ask for your help. Tell me your name again and again; agree with me to begin by believing the best of one another; be faithful in your attendance and support; speak your mind and act from your heart; be as a serious as a judge but as light-hearted as a feather; and expect to be real with one another and to have some fun while doing it!
Thank you so very much for allowing me this opportunity to serve among you. Great days unfold before us! Let us rejoice and be glad!
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