Presented by Andy Vickery
Good morning. Today we gather to review the history of the year past, to do a wee bit of prophecy for the year to come, and, among other items of business, to elect six new members to serve on the vestry of Christ Church Cathedral. As we do so, and consistent with the “Tradition” principle of our church, as described in the Parish Profile, I am mindful of those who have served before, and who have laid the foundations for all that we hold near and dear in this sacred place.
There are thirteen plaques like this hanging on the interior walls of our sanctuary. They commemorate over three centuries (310 years to be exact) of vestry service by 13 different individuals.
The shortest term was 5 years, and three were in excess of 40 years. All were men. Our vestry is different now. More diverse – with men and women, and, today, with encouragement from our Canon Missioner Jim McGill, a brand new member from our one o’clock Spanish-speaking service. Welcome Sonia Velazquez. Each vestry member serves a three year term, and then passes the torch to one of the long line of competent, energetic and faithful people who are ready and waiting to serve.
Our vestry will head to Camp Allen next week for our annual retreat. We plan to celebrate the bounty of the year past, and to pray for blessings in the year to come. Most of all, however, we will gather to welcome the Very Rev. Barkley Thompson – who will be with us at the retreat – as our next dean and rector. Please pray for us.
This has been an interesting year at Christ Church. In a way, it has been “business as usual.” Being fundamentally “Easter People,” on April 8, we celebrated once again God’s victory over death via Jesus’s resurrection. For 52 Sundays in a row, God’s Word has been read and Christ’s Gospel has been preached from our pulpit. The sacrament of Eucharist has been celebrated over 200 times. We also baptized 46 new members of the church, solemnized the weddings of 22 couples, and confirmed 16 individuals. And, as always, we ended the calendar year with that joyful sense of hope and expectation that permeates Advent and Christmas.
The work of our clergy staff (under the very steady hand of our Senior Canon Ed Stein), our excellent program staff, and our laity has been nothing short of outstanding. I don’t have time to mention all of the councils or to thank all of the people who deserve it, but two stand out in my mind. The Adult Formation Council teamed up with Brigid’s Place to sponsor a program by Christian author and speaker Krista Tippett and our still new, but “on fire” Justice & Peace Council brought in Baylor neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman. Both spoke to packed Saturday morning crowds in the Cathedral itself. These kinds of programs illustrate what it truly means to be the “cathedral” church of the Diocese of Texas. Thank you Canon Jimmy “Fulla” Grace!
Our multifaceted outreach program, including not only The Beacon, but also COMPASS, the Cathedral Justice Project, Brigid’s Hope and many others, has continued to help us maintain fidelity with the promise in our Baptismal covenant to “respect the dignity of every human being.” And, of course, our music program, under the compelling wand of Canon Bob Simpson has continued to inspire and amaze.
It has also, of course, been a year of discernment and transition. Canon Luchy Littlejohn retired in February, and, on May 22, the Rev. Glenice Como, while still fulfilling her diaconate as chaplain to The Beacon, donned a second hat and added significant responsibilities as Canon Pastor. Our parish administrator Bill Kovach left us fairly suddenly in May, but our native son, David Simpson quickly stepped in, continuing to do his own job as director of stewardship, but adding significant responsibilities as our new chief operating officer. Through his hard work, in close coordination with our Junior Warden Nan Morris, we have not only finally put a new roof over our heads, but saved significant money in the process.
And, last but certainly not least, did you know that we have a new Dean coming? For the better part of the first half of the year, we celebrated the twelve wonderful years of “Love and Justice” preaching and ministry by Joe Reynolds and his “secret ministry weapon” Elizabeth. It culminated on June 3 with the “Reynolds Revelry” celebration, the renaming of our parish hall as “Reynolds Hall,” and the unveiling of Joe’s portrait.
Meanwhile, throughout this period of time, and for months to come thereafter, Kay Pieringer and her eleven colleagues on our Search Committee were working diligently and prayerfully to “discern” that special priest that God already had in mind to be our next dean and rector. As Kay has already explained today, they reached out proactively to the congregation, involving the whole parish to an unprecedented extent. The Holy Spirit provided clear and powerful guidance in this process, and, on November 28, a unanimous vestry accepted the recommendation of a unanimous Search Committee and issued the call to Barkley Thompson.
Through the parish survey and in the “Town Hall” meetings, you expressed an overwhelming preference for a dynamic preacher and compelling teacher of the Gospel. We have called an energetic young priest whose vocational calling fits that description to a “tee.” Barkley’s first Sunday to preach the Word and celebrate the Sacrament will be February 24. Please try to be here for it.
Finally, it is my own turn to pass the torch. The appointment of the senior warden is the dean’s prerogative. And, therefore, with great pleasure I tell you that, at the specific request of Dean Thompson, I have asked Mike Bullington to assume that role.
Related: Annual Parish Report