Wondering Where I’ll Serve

Steven Polunsky (Creative Commons)

I spend a good bit of time wondering where I will next serve as a priest. I’d be less than honest to tell you otherwise. Recently I received a form from The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia’s Office of Transition Ministry. This office exists to assist folks like me who are priests looking for a way to serve in the Episcopal Church. The form asked me basic questions such as what are my gifts and talents, what are my challenges, what do I hope my new church community might teach me and why am I looking for a position at this time? These were my responses:

Question – What particular gifts, talents and strengths do you bring to the exercise of your ministry?

In my 21 years as a priest, having served in several diocesan-level offices (Director of Youth Ministry, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, Director of National and International Response to Natural Disasters) and as a parish priest (five parishes) and as a Priest-In-Charge (twice) and pastor for eight years, some of my gifts, talents and strengths are: God has given me a compassionate heart.  He has given me a desire to encourage people throughout their lives in whatever circumstances they find themselves, and a desire to be a cheer-leader for God. I also have a conviction that it is a sin to bore someone with the Gospel message of Christ. I love to be part of an intentional Christian community where relationships are deep and relationships matter; gathering together with others as together we identify our individual and communal vision, mission, goals and objectives. I live to love and serve.

 

Question – I hope my next congregation can teach me:

A friend one time told me a priest’s relationship with his/her parish is like that of a marriage – sometimes sanding down the rough areas in our lives. My next congregation can and should help me become the person God is calling me to be. Though it is good to want to please people, it is not always good to be a people pleaser. Closely coupled with this is that I have at times made fear-based decisions resulting in me not always being authentic nor following my own conscience (eg., staying in one institutional church for far too long knowing my heart, mind and conscience were theologically and culturally aligned with another.) Sometimes I suffer from wanting the world to be well ordered when parishes don’t always function this way – a place for everything and everything in it’s place. Alas, all the world is not ordered as such and sometimes this frustrates me. My next congregation should challenge me in ways I have not ever considered. I am excited to see where God leads us together.

 

Question – I am looking NOW because:

I am seeking a full-time position in the Episcopal Church because a year ago, after 21 years as a Catholic priest, I transitioned out of the Catholic community and culture into the Episcopal where it is a far better fit for me. My last assignment in the Catholic church was as pastor to 13,000 members and it is my goal to find an Episcopal community, regardless of size, which is seeking a pastor with a heart for relational ministry. I have known since I was very young that God has a plan and a purpose for my life. I have spent my life discerning God’s will in my life and doing all I can to align my life with God, rather than the other way around. My life’s passion and privilege has been to love and serve God and others in many different leadership positions. I am excited to begin this next chapter of my life in whatever capacity God deems is right for me at this time. I hope to spend the rest of my life in service to God.

 

Question – I think my search might be limited because (family, health issues, etc):

My search is not limited at all. I am open to where ever it is God is leading me next. I know better than to put too fine a point on telling God where I might serve next! My biological family is geographically located in northern Virginia but my spiritual family is world-wide. I’d like to serve next in NoVa, but I am very open to serving outside of the northern Virginia area. In the past I have served in both suburban and rural parishes, but I am also open to serving in a more urban setting if this is God’s will and the people’s call! It is my hope that wherever I serve next that the parish is open to growing and stretching in new and different ways, while also celebrating our rich tradition. I am also open to considering ministry beyond the parish, such as campus ministry, a non-profit environment and the many other areas the Episcopal church is present.

 

Please keep me and this process in your prayers. I’m not worried per se, I just want it to be perfect. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be pastor of Good Shepherd when I was assigned there by the bishop. I want that same confidence moving forward in a new church. A friend recently put it this way, she said, “What’s to worry about. There’s a church out there somewhere looking for Chuck.” I needed and appreciated that support.

Friends, I ask for prayers a lot. Please know that as often as I ask for them please know that you remain in my prayers as well. I pray each day for you. Please continue to pray for me.

Peace,

Chuck

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2 Comments

  • Christine says:

    Chuck, we are praying for you and your family always! You are such a gifted writer, counselor, and pastor – I have to believe that the perfect church is waiting just for you. Now I need to figure out how to make that church be near me & my family….love ya dude!

  • Rose says:

    Brilliant – this is so “Chuck” – I can’t wait to read every single post!!!

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