Even with the exalted title of Rector Emerita, I don’t have any great wisdom to impart to you all. What I do have is a great many memories. Bear with me during these weeks of Carol’s recovery as I spend some time reminiscing.
Memory #1: Arriving
In the fall of 1982, Bishop Mellick Belshaw had a double dilemma. He had a one room church on a semi-paved road in the middle of several cornfields, and he had a very green, middle aged priest—a woman—who needed employment. It didn’t take too much pondering to see where the solution lay.
On the first Sunday of October, I stood in front of the altar at St. Thomas’ and announced, “I am your Vicar.” There were 35 people in congregation that day, and I was told, “Don’t expect this crowd every week. They’re just curious.”
They were curious and also wary…..and so was I. But there was good will beyond the skepticism, enough to quell the utter panic that I was feeling. People were willing to give me a chance. Happily, they came back the next week….and so did I.
Every situation was a learning experience in those early months. As others drifted in, I began to explore the many different facets of ministry. It was exhausting and bewildering and fascinating, and I wouldn’t have traded that time for anything in the world.
Looking back on St. Thomas’ growth, I realize that it was so much more than my efforts that made it happen. All of us shared the same goal. That was the key! We wanted others to enjoy the beauty of our little church, to watch the changing of the seasons through the old glass of the altar window, to sit in the calm of that special space.
But there was more, not always articulated but very real, that went beyond the building. We wanted to share with others the joy of worshipping together, of singing hymns together in that acoustically amazing setting, praying together the timeless words of the prayer book, feeling the camaraderie of all the others who, for over 200+ years, had done these same things in that same space, knowing that God would be found there.
What I learned most about ministry is that it is a mutual undertaking.
Thinking about the theme of this Sunday’s lessons, I wonder. Was I Called to serve at St. Thomas’ ? It turned out to be such a perfect fit that it’s tempting to believe there was more involved than just a solution to Bishop Belshaw’s dilemma. I’m content to leave the matter unanswered, simply grateful that somehow it was in this place I was given the opportunity to work and grow and worship.
It’s lovely to be back!
Personal Note from Carol:
I will be out on short-term disability through February 14, recuperating from knee replacement surgery. The Rev. Ann Holt, rector emerita of this parish, will be serving as Assisting Priest during the time I am away. Information about what to do in a pastoral emergency will be available on the church voicemail, 908-996-4091. I ask that you pray for me, as I will continue to pray for all of you. Carol+
Pastor Carol Update: Carol will be moving to the rehab facility this afternoon (Thursday). <Anita>
Please remember to:
Fill St Thomas Quarter Tube – Proceeds go to Episcopal Relief and Development for Puerto Rico. Your donations make a difference!