Father Jim’s News for April 2024

by Father Jim Warnock

As we enter into Easter season, it’s appropriate to think about our future. In terms of the diocese, this revolves around the election of a Bishop. The Prayer Book (p. 517) outlines the role of the diocesan Bishop. “You are called to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church; to celebrate and to provide for the administration of the sacraments of the New Covenant; to ordain priests and deacons and to join in ordaining bishops; and to be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ. With your fellow bishops you will share in the leadership of the Church throughout the world.”

We have four candidates for this position, and I want to give their brief bios as found on the diocesan website. “The Rev. Philip N. LaBelle (he/him) serves as rector of St. Mark’s Church in Southborough, Massachusetts, arriving there in January 2011. During his time in the Diocese of Massachusetts, Phil has co-led the Mission Strategy Committee, served on Executive Committee and Diocesan Council, and directed the Fresh Start program. He co-founded Southborough Neighbors for Peace with Dr. Safdar Medina in their small town. The organization has hosted peace vigils, began a community-wide Iftar dinner during Ramadan, established an interfaith Thanksgiving service, and sponsored other bridge-building events. Additionally, Phil served on the core team of Central Mass. Connections in Faith, an organization centered on fostering relationships and learning about other religious faiths through quarterly gatherings. In June, Phil will receive his Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Seminary focused on Christian Spirituality.”

The Rev. Dr. Hillary Raining writes this. “I have been blessed to live out that Christ-centered call in many different ways and places as a Rector, author, seminary teacher, spiritual director, workshop and retreat leader, yoga and meditation instructor, and forest therapist guide. I also am deeply involved in the broader work of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Pennsylvania. As a scholar and published writer, I have focused on such topics as reconciliation, worship, and indigenous spirituality (including personal lessons learned from my own tribe, The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Native Americans). I founded an online spirituality and wellness community called The Hive. I am blessed to be the spouse of Ken Raining, a reference librarian at the University of Pennsylvania, and mother to our amazing teen, Delia. You can find out more at hillaryraining.com.”

“Jordan Haynie Ware (she/her) serves as Archdeacon for Justice in the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton, Canada, and Rector of Good Shepherd Anglican Church. She is passionate about sharing the good news of God’s love as displayed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ with audiences both inside and outside the church. Her preaching, team-building, interfaith collaboration, and neighborhood organizing are rooted in a Gospel with lots of room for diverse voices. Jordan was born and raised in Texas as part of an ecumenically mainline Protestant family before she was received as an Episcopalian through the Episcopal Student Center at the University of Texas at Austin. She was among the first women ordained in what was formerly known as the Diocese of Fort Worth. After graduating from Yale Divinity School, she served All Saints’ Episcopal Church as Associate for Youth and Young Adult Ministry. She also chaired the Commission on Ministry, represented the diocese at General Convention, and generally pitched in throughout an ‘all hands on deck’ situation, as we witnessed God’s resurrecting power to renew a post-schismatic diocese.”

“The Rev. Kate Wesch is a native of Ponca City, Oklahoma where she grew up attending Grace Episcopal Church. She received her undergraduate education at the University of Oklahoma, majoring in Letters, and holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest. She was ordained to the priesthood in 2007. In 2007, Kate was named Associate Rector of St. John the Baptist in West Seattle. She then served as Interim Priest-in-Charge at Church of the Holy Spirit, Vashon Island for one year. Kate settled into the role of Associate Rector at Epiphany Parish of Seattle and remained in that position more than eight years. This was a time of steady growth for the parish, and Kate wore many hats. She was instrumental in the growth of many programs and ministries including building up a vibrant small group ministry and the oversight of staff. She was elected Rector of St. John the Baptist, West Seattle in 2017, where she brought principles from the College for Congregational Development in order to collaboratively grow the community. In 2021, Kate was elected Rector of St. John’s in Essex, CT where she has focused on revitalizing a growing parish. Kate’s passion for parish ministry is expressed in the vitality and enthusiasm of the communities where she serves. With a keen focus on following Jesus, reading the Bible, and forming disciples, Kate meets people where they are and invites them to more.”

The election process involves all of the candidates visiting our diocese and having opportunities to speak with all of us. Our meeting is at St. Mary’s Lakewood on April 30th from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. I’d encourage you to come out if you can and to keep our diocese in prayer as this important decision is made.