By now, most of you have heard that Bishop Akiyama has made my next assignment. This prompts me to offer you a few thoughts that have come to me in prayer and reflection.
First, thank you all for making my assignment to St. Gabriel the Archangel such a substantive and joyful ministry! So many of you were there from the beginning for my ordination, and you welcomed me the moment I walked through the doors. A foundational aspect of my ministry as a deacon is to support everyone in their own ministries and together, despite many challenges, we have felt and lived God’s love in our community. I am grateful to have served with every one of you during my time at St. Gabriel. I also deeply appreciate the support and wisdom of the fellow clergy with whom I have worked here, including the deacons on whose shoulders I stand, Katherine, Tom, and Roger, as well as priests Canon Linda, Father Everett, and Mother LouAnn.
During the isolation in which we’ve lived for much of that time, we’ve had to learn how to be Church over Zoom. Thankfully, this has kept us connected while physically apart for safety but it is not the same thing as worshiping and fellowshipping in person. Yet, for all its constraints of microphones accidentally left on or muted, time lags, and dropped connections, I am so grateful that, although apart, we can still interact. This is a marked contrast from most of the services I have participated in with other congregations, which have been one-way broadcasts. I’ll take our quirky two-way internet interaction over that approach every time! This community has shown resilience and commitment to serving God and each other despite all of these challenges, remembering that, with God, all things are possible.
Deacons serve where our bishop assigns us, although each bishop has their own preferences about assignments. When I was sent to you, the thinking regarding first deacon assignments was that they would often be one year in length. Additionally, deacons often are expected to depart in connection with the departure of the rector. A year ago, with all of our changes, the then-archdeacon and I agreed that I’d stay at St Gabriel for a second year. Although well past that mark, Canon Linda and I agreed that we wanted me to stay through Christmas Day. So, I will preach on December 26th at our single 9 am service and I will wrap up my ministry with you by reprising my blessing of the animals role as St Francis for our Christmastide play. You’ll have to come to see if Fr. Everett again appears as the wolf!
I hope that you have found my ministry among you to be fruitful. If so, feel free to encourage your new rector to request a new deacon!
For me, leaving the many relationships we’ve built in my time with you makes leaving difficult. And the departure of clergy can feel somewhat abrupt, potentially making this leavetaking feel more difficult. For my part, this feels a bit like getting ready to go to sea: I feel a mixture of pain at leaving people I love, joy at what we have done together, and excitement at what is yet to be revealed. And, although I am going to a new congregation, I can’t wait to see what else is revealed among God’s beloved people of St. Gabriel!
In God’s Love,