Monthly Message

Message from Ben

Dear People of St. John’s,
 
Warm greetings to you all! It is an honor to serve alongside you as your Interim Priest during this important time of transition before calling and welcoming your next Rector. Perhaps you are curious to know a little about me as we begin this new phase of life together.
 
I am an Iowa native and Iowa State undergraduate with MA degrees in Divinity as well as Philosophy and Theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. I served a long tenure as Rector of St. Luke’s in Cedar Falls, so I understand and admire the trust and depth of relationships involved in the long pastorate you’ve enjoyed with Father Al.
 
Since then, Bishop Scarfe has appointed me to serve as Interim Priest in six varied Episcopal congregations, including some of our largest churches located in university towns – comparable to St. John’s – as they transitioned from one Rector to another.
 
My experience with these transitions has provided me with some specialized skills and insights that I hope will help equip you for the next phase of your life together.
 
What are some characteristics of parish life and leadership during these transitions?  Here are a few to note as we begin, with more to come later:
 

  • This is a time of renewal – “to become new, to begin again, to be restored to freshness or strength.” We invite the Holy Spirit to work in our midst.
  • This is a time to focus not on the priest, but on the congregation. It is a time when the laity is given the great opportunity to repossess its historical place in the leadership of the congregation.
  • This is a time to see the church through the congregation, and not through the vestry or the clergy. Every gift, every individual is necessary to the whole. What do we each bring?
  • This is a time for continued good worship, preaching and pastoral care, with each of these ministries shared by those lay members with the gifts and graces to lead or assist.
  • This is a time when St. John’s takes another intentional step in becoming a ministering community, and not a community gathered around a minister.
  • This is a time to put our agendas aside, celebrate St. John’s current work and move into the ministries to which God is calling us.

 
No wonder these interim periods are often noted by parishioners as being a prime time for renewal that reenergizes the parish in its life and mission. This is what we pray this time will be for us.
 
I look forward to being part of that with you, and seeing where God leads you next.
 
Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:19
 
Yours in the rich love of Christ,
 
Ben+