Friends of mine joke that the Episcopal Church is actually composed of six or seven people and the rest is smoke and mirrors. The chuckle this causes only intensifies when names and people familiar with us take on new roles in the broader church. On Saturday, July 15, the Rev. Kevin Brown—former GSL parishioner and priest in the Diocese of West Tennessee—was elected the eleventh bishop of the Diocese of Delaware. I first became acquainted with Bishop-elect Brown through a close seminary friend who went on to serve as curate at his Charlotte parish. Again, the rest is smoke and mirrors.
Bishop/rector search processes, elections, and subsequent ordination and installations are often called times of "discernment," an extended opportunity to ask God who we are, what we want, and the wisest way forward in light of all of that. It is safe to say that a great portion of the Christian life is spent in discernment, listening for generative ways forward. Over the next months and years, our own diocese will be listening to its own heart as candidates are nominated, interviewed, and ultimately, a new bishop is elected and ordained. Not dissimilar is GSL's process of selecting its next rector, a person who will hopefully be a good fit for this community.
Some time ago, I came across an interview in which poet and professor Nikki Giovanni discussed her approach to writing literature: "My grandmother did not waste. There was nothing that came into her kitchen that she didn't find a use for. That's how I see words." This passage from her work lands as a relevant approach to prayer, seeing as no experience we live through or trauma we survive is off limits in conversation with God. There is nothing we've gone through that a "use" can't be found for, that we can't learn from, or that we can't simply hold before God's presence in contemplation.
As GSL searches for a new rector, our diocese searches for a new bishop, and the Diocese of Delaware welcomes Father Brown as their new bishop, my prayer is that all of the communities and individuals involved will observe closely the texts of their lives, finding a use for every experience, wasting not even a moment of life's richness and complexity. –The Rev. Broderick Greer
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: look favorably on your whole church, but especially this Grace-St. Luke’s family. Grant us perception, faithfulness and joy that we may hear your voice in all our deliberations. By the power of your Holy Spirit stir up in us the desire and ability to truly hear each other and those whom we have entrusted with this process. Give us courage, we pray, to respond and act as you lead us in seeking a faithful pastor and teacher who will equip us for the work of ministry, that we may glorify your holy name, and by your mercy, obtain everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Almighty God, Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer: we pray that you will continue to send your blessings to the Diocese of West Tennessee, and to all those who will participate in the search for our next Bishop. We pray that you will give us open hearts, wisdom, and clarity of thought and that our efforts will be guided by the Holy Spirit. Give us the courage and perseverance to find and elect a person who will be for us a Shepherd, who will follow in the example of Jesus Christ, and whose voice and actions will promote unity in a church and a society too often divided. May our search be a product of the love, mercy, and grace you extend to all of God’s children. Amen.