Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Center of the Universe

On September 10, I officially began my work as the Priest-in-Charge to the Episcopal parish in Ashland, Virginia. St. James the Less is a 150 year old congregation that has a long and storied history, a passion for helping their community, and like most congregations, it is asking how can we be faithful followers of Christ in our time.

A lot of friends have asked about Priest-in-Charge (PiC) as opposed to Rector, the more traditional term. A PiC is a halfway role, between an Interim and a Rector. It is a quick move-in, which is what the parish and I wanted foregoing a long search process, and it comes with an end date. There is a three-year contract, but unlike an Interim, it can be "converted" (Yes, that is the term) to the Rector if all parties are in agreement. That can happen as soon as 18 months. We will see, prayerfully and hopefully.

There has been some frustration and animosity within the parish, and hopefully I can bring some stability and hope as I move into my new role. St. James the Less is not alone with anxiety and troubles. I have been laid off from two congregations in a year. This is a time of major transition and change within, and without, the Church. With our divisive and angst-filled days, we would be silly to think that there would not be a spillover into our faith communities. But this requires more faith, not less, on our parts. There is no longer an assumption that Church is something you do, so those that are left, the "righteous remnant" to use a term I learned in my study of the Hebrew Scriptures, are choosing to be there. That gives me hope. Church is hopefully not an activity, but a true expression of the faithful, maybe even the Body of Christ.

This blog has been called doubtnotstt from my first years as a priest at St. Thomas' in Richmond, and so I needed to change its title. There is a sense of civic pride in Ashland which as best as I can remember came from a joke bumper sticker, which said something like Welcome to Ashland, the Center of the Universe. The name stuck. There is even a Center of the Universe Brewery (COTU). So, humbly and with tongue firmly in cheek, I am very pleased to announce that I am the Priest to the Center of the Universe. Hence the new blog name, and I could not be more excited about all that is to come. Soli Deo Gloria!


  1. Love this statement. Praying for your continued faith, discernment, your leadership at St. James the Less, and your family. May God give you everything you need. Wish you were ours, but St. James the Less is fortunate. You will mend fences there.

    - Margaret


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Blessings, Rock