Like an increasing number of people, my vocational call and journey is spread out over more than a decade. I began an M.Div. at Union Theological Seminary right out of college, worked and discerned for a decade, and am scheduled to be ordained a transitional deacon and then a priest by the Diocese of New York in 2016.
Returning to seminary, I am yoking together two years to complete my formation. Last year, I worked on an Anglican Studies diploma at The General Theological Seminary, taking courses within a broad range of practical and priestly formation. This year, I continue to study at General Seminary for a Master of Sacred Theology degree focused on Anglican Poetry, and to gain pastoral experience through a Wisdom Year residency at the Parish of Calvary-St. George’s, which is in Manhattan, about one mile from General Seminary.
Calvary-St. George’s is one parish with two buildings; it is an early “yoked” congregation. My first impressions of this parish were from its worship, with powerful preaching, the Comfortable Words after confession, and a range of musical styles, including worship songs during Eucharist. St. George’s is a historically low church that uses Rite I; Calvary is middle to high and uses Rite II. The congregation is diverse culturally, economically, theologically, and includes people of all ages.
This is a creative congregation whose Sunday attendance has doubled in the past three years. I have been part of planting churches and am interested in re-starts, so I feel very blessed to be part of the parish this year. Partially because Calvary-St. George’s is open to new endeavors, the Rev. Jacob Smith and vestry were excited about being a pilot site for The Wisdom Year.
I participate in the week-to-week life of the parish, attending weekly staff meetings, the clergy bible study and prayer group, and preaching at Thursday Healing Eucharist. I have been called upon to pray at meetings, write the parish e-news, and appear in Sunday service video announcements.
I also have my own responsibilities and initiatives. I have trained and organized 14 youth acolytes at St. George’s—the first time ever for this historically “low” church. I lead a new devotion group after the Healing Eucharist, the only one of nine that meets during the day.
By far, the greatest benefit of my Wisdom Year is literal wisdom. I am mentored by the Rev. Jacob Smith, the Priest-in-Charge, and receive great advice from the assistant priests, the Rev. Ben DeHart and the Very Rev. Jim Munroe, who is the recently retired Dean of the Cathedral in Springfield, Massachusetts. Rector Emeritus, the Rev. Tom Pike, comes by from time to time and the Rev. Nancy Hanna is part of our Friday bible study. I have learned so much already from this team of amazing priests!
The Integrative Seminar with the Rev. Stephanie Spellers has also been tremendously valuable. I have a sense of the other Wisdom Year residents, and as an S.T.M. student, am part of a peer group preparing for the GOEs, transitional diaconate ordinations, job searches, and our next life chapters.
This is a cusp year for me and I am very grateful to be participating in this unique program, combining an S.T.M. and The Wisdom Year, following a year of Anglican Studies. I am also thankful to Calvary-St. George’s for being open to this new creative approach to seminary formation. The parish has been a great fit for my Wisdom Year, like when “new wine is put into fresh wineskins” (Matt 9:17).
To read all articles on GTS News about The Way of Wisdom, go to www.gts.edu/wisdom.