Retirement Announcement

To my dear friends,

It’s with great ambivalence that I’m announcing my retirement as Vicar of St. Antony’s as of September 30, 2021.

I’m very sad to contemplate leaving St. Antony’s because I have loved being your priest. You have given me the great gift of your trust and I cherish the relationships I have with each one of you. Together we’ve done great things, and, more importantly, we’ve done small things with great love. My thirteen years as Vicar have been rich and rewarding for me.

However, I’ll turn 68 at the end of September and I believe God is calling me to move on. I have done my best to serve faithfully, but now it’s time for St. Antony’s to find new vision, new energy, and new leadership.

I’m announcing this six months in advance so there will be plenty of time for us to say goodbye and plenty of opportunity for the Bishop’s Committee to begin finding the next Vicar of St. Antony’s.

I know this decision will cause consternation and be the occasion for grief. I feel sad that my tenure is coming to an end, but I feel confident that the Holy Spirit is leading us and guiding us into the future.

With all tenderness and affection in Christ Jesus,
Bill

Invitation to our Lenten Program

During the season of Lent, we’ll be offering the Sacred Ground program on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 pm. Sacred ground is a program of racial reconciliation, healing, and justice developed by the Episcopal Church.

PEP II Preaching Conference

Last week, January 11-15, I attended an online preaching conference put on by The Episcopal Preaching Foundation. I signed up for this course in 2019, anticipating that I would fly to a conference center in Maryland for a week in June 2020. That was postponed, of course, and the conference was held on Zoom last week.

What did I learn from this conference?

Probably the most surprising thing I learned was that I was the only white male my age among the attendees. The clergy who attended were almost all female, people of color, or gay. It makes me feel like I’m a little out of synch with the evolving Episcopal Church. Maybe it’s time for me to get out of the way and let the new generation of clergy take over.

There were two presenters who were excellent, both of them professors of preaching at major seminaries. Wes Allen talked about how difficult it is to preach when there are overlapping crises in our country, and he gave some practical pointers. Judy Fentress-Williams spoke about the using lament as found in the Psalms and using the experience of Exile in the Bible as a way to speak about our current situation in America.

I was in a preaching group with three other attendees and a mentor. We had four preaching group sessions, so each of us was able to give a sermon on the Zoom session and receive feedback. Not only did I receive useful feedback, but listening to the other preachers helped me expand my awareness of different ways to preach.

I’ve done a lot of reading about preaching over the past few years, and I didn’t learn a lot of new things at the conference, but the variety of preachers and the chance to talk about preaching with other preachers made this a worthwhile conference.

Parade of Creches video

For Christmas season, we collected photos of our parishioners’ Christmas creches and sent one or two out each day in emails. I put them together in a video so they would all be in one place. I recorded the soundtrack in my office.

Parade of Creches

Advent Calendar Day 26

Do you think Joseph held the baby? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a painting showing Joseph with the baby Jesus. He’s usually standing in the background looking lost. So I thought I’d draw him looking at the baby, wondering about this newborn child and how he was going to change his life.

Advent Calendar Day 25

Sometimes we idealize the manger scene with an angelic Mary, a stoic Joseph, and warm, approving shepherds and wise men. But I wonder how Joseph and Mary felt after the shepherds and wise men had gone. Maybe they were completely worn out, like they’re portrayed in a painting by artist Gari Melchers that I sketched in charcoal.

Advent Calendar Day 24

On Christmas Eve, we hear the beautiful story of Christmas, which begins with the journey to Bethlehem by Mary and Joseph. The popular image of this journey shows Joseph leading a donkey carrying Mary on its back.

But I like this image of Mary and Joseph by Fritz von Uhde, painted in 1890. It shows the young couple in Dutch clothing of von Uhde’s era, leaning on each other in their distress. They look poor, slightly ragged, and the weather looks foreboding. Mary holds on to Joseph who holds her protectively. You can see a carpenter’s saw on Joseph’s back.

I wonder, how do you visualize the journey to Bethlehem?

Advent Calendar Day 21

The Virgin Mary is a model for all Christians because of her willingness to open herself to the Holy Spirit. “Let it be,” she said. Because of her humility and obedience, she said “yes” to God’s call, and her soul was exalted, as we hear in the beautiful words of the Magnificat, the Song of Mary.