Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Five: Who do you think you are?

Sophia has given the revgals a fascinating Friday Five:

I moved across country for a college teaching job last September, and my mother came to visit for the first time last week. We had a fantastic genealogical adventure tracing the family roots of her father's grandfather, who moved away from this state sometime between 1887 and 1891.

We drove a few hours to their county armed with some names and cemeteries, and wondered if we could locate anyone. It turned out there is an awesome local history room in the public library, with a very skilled librarian library, and with her map and a pile of copied records we struck gold! We found, cleared, deciphered and took pictures of old weathered stones marking members of several family branches in four tiny country cemeteries--the one above is my fourth great grandma. Of particular RevGal interest, we spoke with a friendly and helpful pastor at the United Methodist Church (window above) on the site of the Presbyterian church my fifth great-grandpa helped found in 1814!

1. Do you have any interest in genealogy?

Oh, yes! I love doing genealogy. When we get moved I plan to join and do more work on our family tree. I have already be able to get back 9 generations.

2. Which countries did your ancestors come from?

My mother, as a child, was told to identify herself as “Scots-Irish, Republican and a Campbellite.” She ended up as a Methodist but she was still Scots-Irish and a Republican at the age of 97 when she died. My name is Welsh and my paternal grandfather came from the UK in the late 19th century, so I guess I can claim my heritage as thoroughly Celt. There may be a German great-great grandmother back on my mother’s side somewhere but I am predominantly Celtic

3. Who is the farthest back ancestor whose name you know?

In this country it is 9 generations: Alexander and Elizabeth McKinney who are buried in Vernon, CT, a Revolutionary War vet. In Scotland I found records going back to the 17th generation of a Susan Beatt(ie) in Perthshire.

4. Any favorite saints or sinners in the group?

I am especially fond of the stories of my great-grandmother who came from Scotland at the age of 16 to be the nanny for a wealthy family in Chicago. During the Great Fire in that city she was charged with getting the children safely to the family’s summer home in WI. Later in life when she had lost her husband she ran a boarding house for railroaders in Cedar Rapids, IA where my grandparents met.

The picture above is of my Great-Uncle George, brother of my grandfather. George was 20 years older than my grandfather but it was to George that my grandfather was sent when both of his parents died in the great flu epidemic in Ottawa in 1872. George was an officer in the Raj and spent some significant time in Calcutta. This is a picture of him driving his carriage in Calcutta sometime in the 1890's.

5. What would you want your descendants to remember about you?

I believe I am the first clergy person in the family and I was of the early group of women clergy in my denomination.

Bonus: a song, prayer, or poem that speaks of family--blood or chosen--to you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I am retiring. I will leave my congregation (Lutherans say ‘congregation’; Episcopalians say ‘parish’) on the 13th of June. J and I will be moving to TX to help out a refugee diocese that needs clergy following the wholesale abandonment of their cures by the bishop and the clergy of the diocese. It will be home again for me. I never thought I would be able to return. But I will be glad to be around family and childhood friends. After living in small towns for the past 15 years, it will be nice to live in a city and close to good symphonies, museums, good medical care and quality restaurants.

Most of all it will be good for me be to be back in my own denomination. I do not begrudge my time with the ELCA in any way. My congregation has been wonderful to me and I have found ways of preaching the Gospel that were new to me. I respect their somber approach to faith and the seriousness with which they take the God experience. But I know I am an Episcopalian. I respect TEC’s ways, theology, liturgy and her wonderful sense of governance. I have missed the TEC’s hymns and harmonies most of all.

I guess I could get nostalgic and think of my “career” as something in the past. However, I don’t feel that way since I have never thought of the priesthood as a career. I think I have used that word to describe my vocation, but it isn’t the way I live it. The priesthood is as much a part of me as my breath. I am not especially fond of the idea of the ‘ontological change’ that is supposed to happen with ordination. Some may describe it that way. I don’t. But I do know that I am a different person than the one that used to teach school or who was a professional musician. I am not sure it happened at the moment of hands being laid upon me. I feel that it has come gradually, grace upon grace as I have tried to live in a way pleasing to God. I do know that grace has come upon me has been because I said ‘yes’ to the priesthood and all that entails. I am not sure that grace would not have come upon me if I had not been ordained—grace has to do with God’s gift, not ordination. But the priesthood was and is how I am supposed to live out that grace that comes unwarranted and teaches me the joys and privileges of life.

I will mourn not being in charge of a parish. I have loved being a part of peoples’ lives in that priestly/pastoral way. I visited a couple of people who are in hospital today and I will miss that. I will even miss some of the vestry meeting or council meeting discussions because I have always enjoyed watching how people grapple with God in their lives even when they don’t want to. I will especially miss sharing the Gospel in the weekly bible studies that I have either attended or taught.

There is not much chance of me just sitting in the pew. I have already gotten emails about taking services for other priests. I am not sure I am a good ‘pew sitter’, but I would like some time to just not be in charge for a while. The only thing that I want to have responsibility for is supper and perhaps the dandelions in the back yard. Perhaps I will be able to find a choir that will have my failing alto. It will be nice to have a bishop who will accept me for who and what I am and not expect me to ‘just be nice.’

I AM tired. I didn’t know how tired I was until I went on a cruise/continuing education trip and found that I could fall asleep any time I sat down with a book. I have not written on my blogs much lately because I have been so tired. I need some time just to rest so that my brain can function again.

Know this, I will continue blogging. My two blogs will be revamped and perhaps even renamed. was originally named for the interim in which LGBT ordination and consecration was placed on hold at the request of the Presiding Bishop. It was her phrase that named that blog. It morphed into a commentary on the Together in Ministry and being a Luth-Episk. became a commentary on the ministry in the Episcopal Church and often times particular to the Diocese of Central NY. How these blogs will be redesigned I don’t know and will probably evolve. Lives change and so does a body of work. But I will always have something to say about the God and Christ and Church that I love.

Stay tuned….