The following words are quoted from my first annual report at St. Luke’s, January 11, 2004 and might be filed under “As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.”
There is much more thanks to give before my final Sunday at St. Luke’s on November 10, 2019, but this 16 year old letter is a start. If you read it, you will find my first and most persistent prayer as rector of St. Luke’s – God preserve me from messing up this parish! The fact that St. Luke’s continues to be an extraordinary parish of dedicated, talented, faithful, creative, and loving souls is a tribute to the mercy and faithfulness of our Lord and Savior, to whom be all thanks and praise.
“My service at St. Luke’s began September 14, 2003, Holy Cross Day. However my year with St. Luke’s began shortly after a conference in January where I met Tony Pompa, then canon to the ordinary for the Diocese of Virginia. Tony and I corresponded about parishes in Virginia, and after reviewing the profile for St. Luke’s I checked in with Tony who said, `Great parish.’
“After submitting my application and some preliminary conversations, Martha Barfoot, Gene Butler, and Dick Larm decided to visit St. Mary’s, Barnstable on the weekend of May 31-June 1, 2003, one week before the Diocese of New Hampshire elected Gene Robinson. The texts for that Seventh Sunday of Easter offered Jesus’ prayer for the unity of his disciples and the account in Acts of the election of Matthias to replace Judas among the apostles. I preached about the importance of choosing leaders for the church, and leaving room for God in whatever process we use for those decisions, remembering that the most essential work given by God to the Church is reconciliation, work that is possible only because of the communion God has established in Christ. And I remember a tropical gale hit the Cape that weekend threatening St. Mary’s new roof.
“After worship Martha, Gene, and Dick took our family through the storm out to lunch at the Hearth and Kettle. At the time I remember feeling confident that, if nothing else, Elizabeth (then 4 years and 4 days old) would keep us in the hunt. She had all the charm stops pulled out.
“From that point things moved pretty fast. On June 21 Delea and I visited St. Luke’s. Three weeks later, July 18, we returned with our family. Anne Ayres, Lisa Collett, Christy Cooper, Tom Hargrove, Andrea Huston, Bob and Cathy McPeek, and Jim Poole took care of schmoozing George, Dorothy and Elizabeth with pools and families galore. On July 19 I met with the vestry – Ben Griffin, Sr. Warden, Bob McPeek, Jr Warden, Tom Stallman, Treasurer, Marty Young, Clerk, Lisa Collett, Education Chair, Christy Cooper, Fellowship Chair, Tom Hargrove, Stewardship Chair, Michael Hawkinson, Jim Poole, Anne Ayres, George Coviello, Andrea Huston, Paul Johnson, John Medina, Bob Mojeski, Beth Morrissey, Harry Shackelford. And I accepted election as rector.
“While the Vestry was debating and voting, I remember having the grace of time to walk into the nave of the church alone for a moment of reflection in the midst of all the winds of change blowing into the life of the church, the life of my family, and my life. The Bowerfinds did not want to leave St. Mary’s any more than most of the church wanted to go through the turmoil of the 2003 General Convention and its aftermath. We couldn’t conceive of being prepared for everything by September, but the time had come to make a decision. We had give God room and His change was upon us. Thank God there was a sanctuary in which to take a moment of rest. Thank God that through all the winds of change the Church is more than debates and business. The Church is a gift of communion, a gift of life, a gift of rest and movement within the patient presence of our loving and creative Lord.
“As I prayed over these things in the nave of St. Luke’s, I looked over and saw a book on the pew across the aisle. It was You Are Special, by Max Lucado. The inside cover was inscribed, “To our children Elizabeth, Frances, and Padgett, with love Taylor and Nancy Skardon. When I finished the book I remembered afresh what I have always known, everything would be alright.
“Somehow between July 19 and September 14 the Bowerfinds (including two Labradors) traveled from Alexandria to Cape Cod to Cleveland to Alabama to Georgia to Alexandria (to buy a house) and back to Cape Cod to pack and say farewell to treasured friends. We arrived finally in Alexandria September 10. We enjoyed a fabulous picnic in the parking lot following worship September 14. Then Hurricane Isabel visited Alexandria the week before the Craft Fair/Silent Auction, but the amazing Admin Committee cleared away the fallen tree from the middle of the parking lot and the Craft Fair came off on September 20 without a hitch. One of a continuing series of signs to me that St. Luke’s is an extraordinary parish of dedicated, talented, faithful, creative, and loving souls. God preserve me from messing it up!
It is never easy to move. But the Church can and does fulfill the promise of communion. At all times and all places. Through all sorts of winds and change. The love of God shared and celebrated helps us pilgrims find safe harbor and rediscover home together in foreign climes. Thanks be to God for all our parish families. For those we have left in other states and countries. For this parish of St. Luke’s which is our current home. And special heartfelt THANKS to those who have born some extraordinary burdens for all of us in the past year:
To the Search Committee, co-chairs Susie Ashton and Gene Butler, Martha Barfoot, Skip Jones, Joann Kinney, Dick Larm, Richard McFarland, Ilga Pakalns, John Young, and consultant Steve Van Vorhees.
To the aforementioned members of the Vestry.
To the Reverends Tom McCusker, Michael Moore, and Lynda Hergenrather
To Parish Administrator Marty Young, whose ministry keeps everything running smoothly regardless of who is at the helm.
To Organist and Choirmaster Jane Bourdow and Children and Youth Choir Director Ivy Mojeski for their inspired musical leadership.
And personal thanks to Delea, Tiffany, George, Dorothy, and Elizabeth for their never-failing support, patience, good humor, and love.”
- St. Luke’s Wellington, Annual Congregational Meeting, January 11, 2004