Rector, Christ Episcopal Church
My husband, daughter, and I are excited to share this journey of discernment with you. My husband of 19 years, Casey Horton, is a 4th generation Wyomingite, craftsman, and stay home dad. Our 15-year-old saxophone playing, acting, dancing, and science loving daughter is in the 10th grade at Cody High School.
I grew up in Minnesota, have served in the Twin Cities, Boston, St. Louis, and for 22 of my 27 years of ordained ministry in the state of Wyoming.
I have been rector of Christ Church in Cody for 14 years. The administrative complexity found in Christ Church’s life is preparing me for the episcopacy. I recently finished doctoral work on developing leaders for our new missional era. This doctoral work prepared me for exercising leadership that calls forth new leaders.
A bishop for Oregon today is one who grows mission-minded people, cultivates fellow servants, and models listening for the Holy Spirit in each context. This person must be creative, contextually sensitive, clear thinking, direct speaking, flexible, trust building, and deeply faithful. I value and seek to practice these attributes in my ministry. With God’s help, we can transform the places in our common life that are defined by problems, fear, and scarcity, to places flourishing with possibility, gift, and abundance. I hope to be able to share further in mission and ministry with you in Oregon. Thank you for inviting me (us) to serve on your slate.
Why do you feel called to be Bishop of Oregon at this time?
Respondents to a diocese-wide survey identified Spiritual Leadership as one of the most important characteristics of our next bishop. What are the hallmarks of spiritual leadership and how do you embody them in your life and ministry?
In my doctoral thesis, I defined missional Christian leadership as creating spaces to listen for the Holy Spirit in the Bible, in one another, and in our larger community; then following the Spirit’s lead into a future of God’s dream and promise. Unlike caricatures of secular leadership where power and authority are increasingly focused in one individual at the top of a hierarchy, Christian leadership that is spiritually formed and missionally engaged finds its center in sharing power and in creating space where the authority of others is nurtured.
The spiritual practices found in this definition of leadership ground us in the presence and promise of Christ as individuals and as community in a world where the pace of change is accelerating. Spiritual practices of missional leadership develop our muscle to listen and to let go in a world where value is place on talking and taking. Through spiritual practice we reconnect with our deep roots in God and through spiritual practice that we grow in leadership to reach toward the future Christian hope.
Christian leaders are called to model spiritual practice and to invite others to engage in regular practice. My own practice is Ignatian. Ignatian spirituality is a spirituality for everyday life that finds God’s activity all around. In this pathway to deeper prayer, good decisions are guided by keen discernment, and an active life of service to others is developed. I model my spirituality with others without expecting them to commit to Ignatian sensibility, rather to encourage them to seek friendship with God, to listen for the Spirit in scripture, and to understand the importance of discerning God’s will while gradually softening our own. I find in my work with the Jesuits, a measured, flexible, and joyful spiritual tradition.
Our Diocesan Profile outlines some of the opportunities for growth we face in the Diocese of Oregon. How would you exercise episcopal leadership in addressing one or more of these opportunities?
The Association of Religious Database Archives places the religious adherence level among Oregon residents at 31.2%. Welcoming as we are only a trickle of the almost 70% “nones” in the population will ever find their way to our church. We must be out in the world engaging our neighbors in order to live the church’s purpose to be “a sign, instrument, and foretaste of the reign of God.” (Lesslie Newbigin)
I received initial formation in a time when seminaries were still producing chaplain-scholar priests. I bring compassionate listening into my work and have gifts for thinking and communicating theologically. I value this part of my formation because one of the most important skills for leadership is framing and interpreting community experience in light of the gospel rather than providing a one size fits all program for church growth.
A de-churching world is challenging and scary. I find that creativity and hope are antidotes for anxiety. We need leaders who: listen for the Holy Spirit’s creativity, nurture fellow leaders, invite us reach out to our neighbors in new ways. In the last twenty years, I have partnered with people in congregation, region, and diocese to develop leadership talents for the present time. I see the big picture, make connections and build community, generate ideas, prayerfully listen for the Spirit and encourage others to do so as well, accept and work through conflict, and am always open to new learning. No one person has everything necessary to singlehandedly bring the church toward where God is calling. However, the church gathered in community (large or small!) will have the gifts necessary to engage in Spirit-led mission in its own unique context. That is true for my own diocese, and I believe it to be true for Oregon as well.
Describe a time when you had a cross-cultural experience. Please share with us how you responded to it, what you found challenging, and what you learned from it?
In my current congregation, we have had the opportunity to participate in cross-cultural ministry with two Native American tribes. Sixteen years ago, our congregation met with a Crow (Apsaalooke) group in nearby Montana and supported them in the creating and maintaining of a social enterprise whose funds power the group’s local outreach mission on Crow reservation. Ten years later, a member of our congregation discovered that one of Crow sacred sites was in our state, off their Reservation lands. The tribe had been unable to access this site for over 100 years. We worked with the landowners and tribal elders to create an opportunity for an annual return to the site. My congregation has participated in this annual return every summer since. Six years ago, our youth groups began to build relationship with youth on the Wind River Reservation where our own diocese has a formal historic presence. Our youth travel to Wind River for learning, cultural exchange, and friendship, and folks from the Wind River come to Cody to visit us. My leadership has been supportive and permission giving to lay leaders who are building bridges between our congregation and our Native neighbors. Our congregation has approached each relationship with listening rather than bringing answers, mutuality rather than patronage, and an interest in learning from the experience of others rather than interest in our own metrics for success. God calls us to work for restitution and reconciliation wherever possible. Through our work with Native American neighbors, I have learned that the magnitude of broken trust between our people calls for much listening and long-term time commitment to this work in order to see the fruits of reconciliation.