I haven’t said much about the new priest because I was waiting to develop a more fully formed impression. We really like him. He’s quite different from our previous priest, whom I also loved. Kevin was urbane, full of energy for his new career and excited to share the riches of the Anglican tradition as well as to lead people to understand the Bible better and to deepen in spirituality through prayer. Because of those emphases, he was a really good fit for me at the time I was transitioning out of evangelicalism and into Anglicanism.
He and his wife had an air of taste and old money about them. When he talked with you, you had the sense that you were in the presence of an immensely talented person who was firing on all cylinders. The only downside was that he reminded me of our oldest son–juggling so much mentally that it seemed hard for him at times to corral his mental activity and devote himself to the person in front of him.
Our new priest is rougher in appearance. He is not urbane. He does, however, have a large presence, both physically and otherwise. When he’s talking with you, he is fully there. He talks about God easily but not flippantly. He is deeply faith-filled and gives the impression he’s had a “come to Jesus” experience and has determined he will follow.
One silent witness to the sort of priest he’s been is the steady stream of visitors to our church from his previous churches.
I had received the impression that he would put a high priority on pastoral care, and this proved true for us when our youngest son and his best friend were in a car accident earlier this month, resulting in the death of his friend, he made it very clear to me that he was completely available to our family, to talk with us or help in any other way possible, including reaching out to our son.
Settling into his office meant transforming it into a cozy place for conversation, eschewing the overhead fluorescents in favor of cozy lamps and comfortable chairs within an embrace of bookshelves and mementos.
He leads the service well, and his sermons are good — but he reads them. That is not my favorite way–to me it creates distance and I have to work harder to stay focused. However I totally understand why a person would do that, and a priest’s week is busy enough without having to memorize a sermon. And bear in mind, dear reader, that sermons in the liturgical traditions are much shorter than sermons in the evangelical tradition.
I’m looking forward to getting to know him and his family better. I think his spiritual direction will be really helpful for me at this time, too.