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Sunday Services

8AM spoken Rite I Eucharist

10AM choral Rite II Eucharist
Sunday School & Nursery

 

“Now you are called to work as pastor, priest, and teacher, together with your
bishop and fellow presbyters, and to take your share in the councils of the Church.” 
(“The Examination” in ordination of a priest, BCP 531)

This December 9th I will celebrate the 5th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood.  That evening, in a Spanish-language liturgy, amidst a cloud of incense and much support and love in a small urban church in the city of Durham, North Carolina, I committed myself to the role and responsibilities of being a priest in our church as described in the ordination service in our Book of Common Prayer. During the part of the service called “The Examination,” Bishop Michael Curry charged me to take my share in the councils of the Church. At the Celebration of New Ministry we celebrated together in June of 2011 here at St. Stephen’s, a colleague in ministry presented me with a copy of the Canons of this church and charged me to take my place in the councils of the diocese (BCP 562).

 Frequent reminders of this commitment made the night of my ordination are perhaps necessary. It is very easy to be so consumed and busy with the local life of a parish to ignore the larger life of our Diocese and of the greater Episcopal Church. It is easy to resent diocesan meetings and obligations, because when I return home from them, the regular weekly needs of the St. Stephen’s still remain. But I take the call to share in the councils of the church seriously, so when our Bishop and a certain Father Rod McAulay (my predecessor here at St. Stephen’s) asked me to consider serving on the Diocesan Commission on Ministry, I gladly accepted (Rod is the chair).

The COM is a diocesan body made up of lay and ordained members who walk with and guide people discerning a call to ordained ministry (both to the priesthood and the diaconate). The COM is also responsible for lay ministry in the diocese, advising and overseeing the Lay Ministry Committee of the diocese which sponsors workshops for licensed lay ministries (lectors, preachers, worship leaders, lay preachers, Eucharistic ministers and visitors and now Evangelism Facilitators).

We meet monthly in Davis and have two discernment retreat weekends per year. It is an exciting time to serve on the COM in the Diocese of Northern California. As you may know, how we do church is changing as the role of church in our society changes. Like our California microclimates that make particular pockets of land ideal for growing specific grape varietals, each community grows a specific church community and each thrives in its own way. There are of course commonalities between communities, but there is no longer a one size fits all recipe.

As the church changes, so does its needs for ordained ministry—many churches can no longer afford a full-time clergy person, some churches are located in remote small communities, and ethnic/non-English speaking communities need someone who understands their language and culture. The traditional priest model (if there really ever was one!) of a three-year residential Masters in Divinity and then, after ordination, searching for and accepting positions around a state or the country is less and less the norm.

The COM in this diocese sees a great variety of people discerning a call to ministry who no longer fit into the traditional mold: there are second career or retired folks who might live in a very rural community and will most likely minister with only that community throughout their ministry; there are Total Ministry candidates who come out of a community no longer able to afford a paid priest where a group forms and discerns who is to fill each needed role in the community (preacher, pastoral care, deacon, sacramental priest role, teacher etc); there are people tied to a geographic area due to family commitments and who are unable to uproot their lives for seminary; and there are folks with prior education or experience in other denominations.

The COM in this diocese sees a great variety of people discerning a call to ministry who no longer fit into the traditional mold: there are second career or retired folks who might live in a very rural community and will most likely minister with only that community throughout their ministry; there are Total Ministry candidates who come out of a community no longer able to afford a paid priest where a group forms and discerns who is to fill each needed role in the community (preacher, pastoral care, deacon, sacramental priest role, teacher etc); there are people tied to a geographic area due to family commitments and who are unable to uproot their lives for seminary; and there are folks with prior education or experience in other denominations.

Change forces us to call into question our assumptions, our biases, our hopes, our fears and above all to pray for the Spirit’s guidance. The weekend of Friday the 26th of October through Sunday, the 28th, I will be at a discernment retreat with the COM, the Standing Committee of the diocese, Bishop Beisner and those discerning a call to ordained ministry. Please keep us in your prayers!

May this and all change open us all to the possibility of new life!

Christy+