LETTERS FROM OUR RECTOR, THE REV. JIMMY GRACE-
On the evening of February 19, 2014, my phone rang while I was in the middle of a class that I was teaching on St. Augustine at the Cathedral. I picked the phone out of my pocket, and saw a phone number on it that I did not realize immediately, so I elected to see if the caller would leave a message and I would get back to him or her after the class. After the class was over, I found myself outside the room talking with a parishioner who was curious about end-of-life planning (how we got to that subject from St. Augustine is anyone’s guess!).
In the midst of my conversation with this parishioner, my phone rang again. Again, I pulled my phone out of my pocket and saw the same number on the screen. I politely excused myself from the conversation and listened to the voicemail message from the first call.
The voice on the message was immediately recognizable to me – it was the voice of your Senior Warden, Greg Caudell, calling to inform me that the Vestry at St. Andrew’s had just called me to serve as your next Rector. I called Greg back, and after accepting the call, Greg asked me how I was feeling. My response to him (several times) was simply that I was speechless.
I think the reason why I said I was speechless was because since first hearing about Barbara Lewis retiring, St. Andrew’s, its Vestry, and its parishioners, have been in my thoughts and prayers. During that time, I actively and prayerfully discerned a possible call to St. Andrew’s. In my own prayer life, I know well that prayer is not about telling God what you want, and then expecting God to follow through with that wish. Prayer, for me, is very much the opposite – not telling God what I want, but listening rather for what God wants, and then patterning my life on that.
I told Greg I was speechless because, in a profound way, the call to serve as Rector, is in every way an answered prayer. And for me, often the most profound word I can say before God is – silence. And so I am speechless, but also excited, eager, and hopeful about St. Andrew’s in looking toward the future.
I also realize I am standing on the shoulders of giants (Barbara Lewis, Paul Fromberg, John Binford, Haskin Little, and the list goes on and on…). I remain grateful to them and to their ministry in this holy place. I also want to thank Dorothy Gremillon, Ken Fields, Portia Sweet, Rich Houser, Greg Caudell and Sarrah Moseley for their excellent leadership during the interim. I would be remiss if I did not also thank the members of the search committee, especially co-chairs Elizabeth McCormick and Kevin Robertson.
My wife, Marla, and our three boys, James (8), William (6), and Henry (4) are excited about coming to St. Andrew’s and getting to know you all. We are blessed to be coming to the Heights, and look forward to a good and healthy tenure of ministry with you.
I hope that you will be able to be at St. Andrew’s on Sunday April 6. It will be my family’s first Sunday with you all, and we are looking forward to meeting you, as well as blessing the beautiful new playground facilities on our campus after services.
The following Sunday, April 13, will mark the beginning of Holy Week with Palm Sunday observances at 8:30 and 10:30 AM. I hope you make plans to join us at St. Andrew’s as we begin the journey through the holiest of weeks together. It is the journey we all make – from life to death to life without end. Won’t you join us?
Grace and Peace,