I want to thank you all again for the warm welcome I have received over the past few months. The luncheon to officially “Meet & Greet our New Curate” was fabulous. I have appreciated everyone who has included me in smaller group meetings and dinners. Small group settings are truly the best way I can get to know people better. I am grateful to everyone who has continued to wear their nametag and/or continued to introduce themselves to me. I only had two Sundays in which you all could see my face and I could see your faces without the mask, so having a chance to really put faces with names has been hard and opportunities to see everyone’s smiling faces are greatly appreciated.
Several months ago, Father Stephen announced that I had been approved for Ordination to the Priesthood. One of the comments he made was something like, we will no longer have Deacon Lathrop. That caused a bit of confusion, with several people asking me if I would be leaving after I was ordained a priest. I think there may also be a bit of confusion because I am a Transitional Deacon, which means that I am transitioning to the priesthood and will be staying at St. James (not that I am transitioning and moving away from St. James as I become a priest).
Y’all, I just got settled (OK, I still have about 12-14 boxes to unpack and all the boxes in the basement to slowly sort through) and Beau and JJ (my dogs) have recently joined me. I have so much to learn from and with you all and so much to learn from and with Father Stephen, especially if you think in terms of the title of “Curate” as really being more like a “priest-in-training.” Even once Bishop Waldo lays hands on me on December 15, that does not mean all this knowledge is automatically transferred to my brain. It simply means I will have authority to do all the things a priest can do in addition to all the things a deacon can do. Take for example, learning to do all the priest things for a Sunday morning (which is one of the most visible things a priest does). Father Stephen and I have started working through everything for a Sunday morning. Even as we work on those things and I prepare for ordination on December 15 and to celebrate the Eucharist for the first time on December 19 (which is a big deal for a newly ordained priest), I will still be learning, and I will still be honing my skills as a priest. Just like any job, the more you do something the more comfortable you become and the better you become at it (I am really hoping that is the case for chanting!).
We also have so much work to do to rebuild after COVID and I am invested in that rebuilding process, not only for the Children’ Ministry, Youth Ministry, and Canterbury (college-aged ministry at Furman), but also for St. James as a whole. This re-building process is not just a 6-month or a one-year or even a several year process, it is going to take time. At times it can be scary, and I have to remind myself about the exciting opportunities we have to re-build and re-think things. I plan to be with you all every step of the way as we figure out what all the various ministries at St. James are going to look like going forward. That will take creative thinking, patience, being willing to build the airplane as we fly it and re-evaluate things as we are going along. Also, being willing to take baby steps and realize that some things might be worth really focusing on while letting go of other things for the time being. My hope is that we will re-envision and re-build St. James together.