Friday, January 3, 2014

Changes

There have been some big ones this year, of the ontological variety (depending on your theology of ordination), and the personal, financial, etc.,  The biggest change on the horizon though is a change in ministry.

For just under a year I have served as deacon, then curate at Christ Church, Cooperstown and been incredibly blessed by the time there.  I love all the saints (and even perhaps a few Saints) at Christ Church, and I could not have asked for a better mentor in my first year of ministry than Fr. Michael, the rector of Christ Church.  So, it took some serious prayer, and it is a little melancholy to say that I will be leaving that parish to answer a call from the Cathedral in Albany, and to serve as Canon Missioner.

The Cathedral of All Saints in Albany has discerned the need for a renewed focus on evangelism and outreach to the people of the city, especially to some of the poorer neighborhoods.  In response to this, they have reestablished the position of Canon Missioner - a priest in whose job is to be a missionary in residence at the Cathedral.  There is a team in place that has already been doing some work and is very committed to this undertaking.

The Cathedral is located in a perfect spot for outreach, right by the NY state capitol and other government buildings, but also right within sight of Arbor Hill, a very economically depressed neighborhood, and the Lark Street neighborhood, that tends to draw an arts crowd.  Basically, there's a lot going on; a lot of need and a lot of opportunity. I have long had a sense of call to urban ministry.  Reflecting on the ministry of the 'slum priests' like Charles Lowder, has been a great inspiration to me and I have been praying for the opportunity to do something in that line, but was really uncertain of how or where that call would work out. Well, God seems to have provided an answer.    Starting in January, we will begin a phase of information gathering and discernment. This is going to be a challenging ministry, because the newly formed outreach team and I will be building it from the ground up, and its going to involve a lot of footwork, just getting to know people in the neighborhood and building relationships, praying and discerning what God is doing in this place. What are unmet needs in the area? What are services that are already being offered, and how can we articulate the gospel in Albany - by some measures the most "Post-Christian City" in the country?  It's going to be an adventure!  Officially, I start next Tuesday, the 7th.

A bonus is that I will be part of the Cathedral parish and staff.  I will be celebrating once a week during the week, preaching regularly, and attending daily Morning Prayer.  This is a good foundation to have, especially for a Prayer Book Catholic like me, who feels a real need for the stability of the Office and the nourishment of the Sacraments.