I began my ministry fifty years ago at Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, which was entering into charismatic renewal. The Rector of the Church was promoting the renewal; he was also an experienced and demanding parish priest: my job description included 35 parish calls a week (a standard that I never met). After three years, the Rector retired and I became an Interim Rector there for two years until a new Rector arrived. Then I headed off to England for a Ph.D.
Since then I have served mainly as an “educationist,” with 21 years at Trinity School for Ministry in Pittsburgh, and ten years as Vice Chancellor at Uganda Christian University in Africa. But during all that time, I have recalled my pastorate fondly and upheld the vital importance of the local church as an expression of the Kingdom of God and Body of Christ.
Now in my latter years, I have returned, briefly, to the parish. I am the Interim Pastor of Redeemer Anglican Church, a start-up congregation in North Boroughs, an inner suburb of Pittsburgh. Founded five years ago by St. Stephen’s Church in Sewickley, Redeemer is seeking now “mission fellowship” status in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.
One unusual facet of Redeemer is the median age of its members, largely twenty- and thirty-somethings. Many of them are graduates of nearby Evangelical Christian colleges. They are not vintage “Canterbury Trail” Evangelicals (I do not wear vestments or even a collar on Sundays), but they are generally favorable toward Eucharistic worship and wish to become part of the Anglican diocese.
Only a minority of the congregation, including the vestry, is confirmed. So I have proposed preparing the congregation for a “mass confirmation” later in the year with laying on of hands by the bishop.
My main catechesis for this event is via a series of sermons on the Lord’s Prayer, the Commandments, and the Apostles’ Creed. I was able to get a free batch of new Prayer Books for our members, and I am putting out a weekly podcast related to Anglican piety and worship.
For this season, I have decided to post some of this material on “Stephen’s Witness” for the members of Redeemer Anglican Church and any others who might wish to follow along.
Photo: Here is my last confirmation class at Truro in 1976, with the Bishop of Virginia, Robert Hall.