“The personal is political.” This saying was foundational in my adolescence as the Second Wave of feminism was roiling around me. In the late seventies, when I was a teenager, I heard this phrase as speaking to reproductive rights, vegetarianism, and environmentalism. Personal choices had collective consequences. They still do.
I think about this now in the context of my life as a rector at St. Stephen’s. Personal choices and events have implications which impact not only me, but also my community. A priest is a public person–my actions can affect the whole.
This spring and summer have been filled with momentous events in my personal life. My mother almost died; my colleague was critically and is now chronically ill, my youngest child has graduated from high school, and I now inhabit an empty nest with my husband. My heart is sad, grieving, and tired.
From this personal space, I have had to make decisions so that our common life in ministry thrives. There are many unknowns coloring these decisions: St. Stephen’s School is seeking a permanent Head of School, short term disability payments are not paid to the parish immediately, evaluating the most pressing community needs takes time.
I have set as priorities the calling of two people to assist us in our ministry this fall. One is a chaplain to assist us with the ministry of our school; a part time position which is paid for by both School in community service, and our Church in community outreach in concert with our School. I have called Ryan Beaty to fill this position because I believe in spiritual diversity, innovation, and relationships with children and youth and I believe he is highly qualified to embody each. The other position is that of supply priest. This position is a one day a week commitment centered on Christian formation of youth and adults, with some liturgical responsibilities. Given the uncertain timeline of Bob Flick’s recovery and our financial constraints, I feel that it is most prudent at this time to focus our clergy requirements to these areas. I have invited the Reverend Andrea Polvino to assume these duties.
I recognize that both of these are risky calls. They may not be right. I may not have interpreted our options and our constraints accurately. I also know that these choices are for now. My expectation is that St. Stephen’s will great the New Year with two full time priests on staff for the Church and a quarter time chaplain for our school.
I hope you will welcome Ryan and Andrea into our community and receive the gifts they have to offer us.