The next-to-last week in February seemed like two weeks—not because it was really longer or harder than other weeks—but because it contained so many things, both exciting and important. We followed our worship adventure on the Last Sunday After the Epiphany (aka, Joe Cain Day) with two full days of Mardi Gras revelry all around the Cathedral here in downtown Mobile. Then came Ash Wednesday, when we remembered our mortality and began our keeping of a Holy Lent, with Bishop Duncan joining us at the noon service. Both noon and 5:30 p.m. were well attended. Thursday of that same week brought the beginning of the annual diocesan convention, held this year at Trinity Church here in Mobile. Canon Wagner and I were joined by delegates Harwell Coale, Carolyn Eichold, Bob Israel, and Rick Mitchell, as we undertook the canonical business of the diocese on Friday and voted in the bishop election on Saturday. I am thankful for our delegates’ good work, and for the stellar work of our own Carolyn Jeffers and her bishop transition team in carrying out the process of the election.
As you will see in this issue of The Messenger, our diocese elected The Reverend Russell Kendrick, of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham, as our next bishop. Now we begin a new season of transition into relationship with our bishop-elect. He will begin seeking to know us more fully, to hear from us where we are right now, the state of our hearts and minds. And we will begin seeking to know him better. At the same time, we will be saying a fond farewell and thank you to Bishop Duncan and his wife Kathy, as they begin the next chapter of their ministry in retirement.
As the Cathedral church of our diocese (and if you haven’t seen it, please do go to AL.com to see the article there about that), we have a special relationship with our bishop and through him with our diocese.
Our commitment to this special ministry requires us to move beyond our sense of ourselves as a parish family; it asks us to give ourselves to the bishop and the diocese; it requires a level of trust that can by risky; it leads us to be vulnerable as we offer ourselves. But God is with us, “inclining our hearts” to live into this relationship, this covenant.
Therefore, it is doubly important for each of us, individually, to foster and strengthen our relationship with Christ. This is fundamentally how the Body is strengthened, as we are restored to health and wholeness in Jesus Christ our Lord. In our Sunday worship, we will be considering our reliance on God’s mercy and goodness as we explore the language and theology of Rite One. In adult Christian Formation, Banks Ladd and George Inge will be leading a journey through the Gospel of Matthew. Many of you have expressed you desire to join me in the Bible Challenge of reading the Bible this year, beginning in Lent. I will be posting weekly encouragements to that reading in our eblast and looking forward to conversation with you as we explore God’s Word together. Wednesday Eucharist in the chapel at 11:30 a.m. and music in the church at noon provide yet another way to draw closer to God and to prepare yourself for following in Christ’s way of the cross, leading to sharing in his resurrection. My prayer is that our Lenten experience of God’s love will lead us to new life.