Rector, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church
Greetings Oregon Episcopalians! Over the last few months I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon and your core values of love, worship, justice, and community. You are a vibrant community of faith comprised of churches both small and large, urban and rural, spread across a stunningly beautiful geography that inspires and shapes your discipleship. I am excited about all that God is doing in your midst. I am also excited about the possibility of walking and working alongside you as the 11th bishop of Oregon. Your profile speaks of a desire to grow deeper as disciples of Jesus while holding open a gracious space of welcome for all people. You seek to develop creative responses to the pressing challenges of our time both within and beyond the church. You are looking for a collaborative leader who will help individuals and groups take action for the sake of the Good News. One of my favorite pieces of Scripture, which concludes both Morning and Evening Prayer, is: “Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.” (Ephesians 3:20, 21). These words fire my imagination just as they remind me of the profound hope we discover in following Jesus’ Way of Love. God’s life-giving power working in our common life transforms our dreams into reality. It has been a joy and honor to participate in the process of discerning a new bishop of Oregon. As this process continues to unfold and we take our next steps together please be assured of my prayers for you, my fellow candidates, and for the ongoing renewal of the Episcopal Church in western Oregon!
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?
At the heart of Spiritual Leadership is the experience of knowing oneself to be loved by God and sharing that love with others. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has given a profound gift to the Episcopal Church, and the wider world, in his description of the spiritual life as the Way of Love. The spiritual practices that make up the Way of Love—Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, and Rest—are an inclusive and expansive pathway for all people to come to know Jesus and find their place in sharing his mission and ministry. This new language and enthusiasm for the ancient treasures of our Episcopal tradition has increasingly organized and shaped my sense of what it is to be a spiritual leader. I have discovered in the Way of Love new energy for living the promises we make at baptism: “will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers?” The answer to this question is “I will with God’s help.” This is the key for anyone to offer authentic spiritual leadership; that is, to acknowledge that all we seek to do for realizing God’s vision for our world must be grounded in a humility that seeks God’s help. It also acknowledges the help that others provide when we work together for the sake of the Good News. In fact, we go even further in rendering that vision when we ask: “will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” and “will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” Seeking God’s help in my daily prayer, allowing the stories of the Bible to permeate my imagination, worshiping joyfully in community, seeking and reflecting on the wisdom of others, and blessing and loving those in my care is how I embody spiritual leadership.
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 Diocesan Profile indicates four primary and interrelated areas for desired growth: Unity, Creativity, Leadership, and Action. No lone person nor single act will be able to accomplish the hoped for transformation the diocese has articulated in its profile, and therefore no bishop will have all the answers. In order to make progress on these growth areas we will need to work together. I have learned that leadership is not positional authority but an activity engaged in with others. My exercise of episcopal leadership will begin with developing and deepening relationships with laity and clergy, congregations and institutions, and the members and friends of the church in Oregon. Building cohesion amongst the various dichotomies described in the profile will require me to be a bishop who listens first to the stories of faithful response to God’s call told throughout the diocese while also sharing creatively the story of God’s way of love. In order to do this work well together I would place an emphasis on strengthening formation opportunities for all ages. We will need to tap the wisdom of the elders of our diocese even as we seek to develop youth and young adult leadership. To unlock this potential we will need to thoughtfully address resource availability in order to keep as much ministry funded at the local level as possible. A diocese does not exist over and against but for the sake of the actual locations where and moments when individuals and communities practice our faith. Spending significant time on the ground in every part of the diocese, witnessing the works of mission and ministry already taking place, encouraging new forms of collaboration, and routinely advancing a shared vision for who God is calling us to become will be the primary focus of my episcopacy.
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?
Not long after arriving in Kansas from Los Angeles—also a cross-cultural experience!—I was approached by the director of our diocesan Kansas to Kenya (K2K) program to see if I might serve as a chaplain on a Community Development Team traveling to Mai Mahiu, Kenya. While intrigued by K2K’s unique missional approach based on listening, mutuality, and reciprocity, I was reluctant to go as I was in my first year in a new position and did not want to spread myself thin. I was worried about disrupting myself. But that was what needed to happen, so I went. This was my first learning: you have to make yourself available. I joined a team which was comprised of an engineer, a nurse, an educator, an entrepreneur, a women’s health advocate, a political scientist, a journalism student, and a filmmaker and we set out to meet our Kenyan partners: community organizers, educators, women’s health workers, and a priest. Bringing our gifts to share and to be transformed by our partners’ gifts is the heart of cross-cultural experience. The guiding principle of K2K is that teams do not just swoop in on “mission trips” to do bits of short-term do-gooderism. We go to develop long term-relationships and to listen, to learn from the communities in their context, and then together to craft actions that affect sustainable change in a community. Cross-cultural experiences might seem risky because they require being called to give up presumed power and privilege to truly engage another’s God-beloved and blessed humanity, but this is the unifying work of the Spirit. The deep revelation of traveling to the other side of the world is that what you learn must then be applied in your home context and in yourself. This is the gift of cross-cultural immersion that continues to inspire my ministry today.