Thursday, February 05, 2009
Ta Da! 'First Fridays' Makes Its Debut!
The monthly series "First Friday" will debut tomorrow morning, right here on Telling Secrets.
This monthly feature is a response to some of the many questions I get off line from folks who read this blog - mostly difficult pastoral situations - that I sometimes feel absolutely incompetent to answer.
At one point, as I was deep in thought, considering one of the more difficult questions, I looked up and suddenly realized that I am in one of the most amazing Dioceses in all of Western Christendom: The Episcopal Diocese of Newark. We have an embarrassment of riches in terms of wise, experienced, tough, compassionate, skilled and talented people.
So, I have asked a few of my favorite wise people if I might send them one question a month that they would consider and respond by the first Friday of the month. Not everyone will respond, just those who feel they have the time and something to contribute to that particular question.
The panel of First Friday Responders includes Marge Christie, Diana Clark, Louie Crew, Fran Trott, Bev Huck, Abby Hamilton, Maggie Gat and Denise Haines.
Some of these names will be instantly recognizable to people who have been around councils of The Episcopal Church. Certainly Marge Christie and Louie Crew need no introduction. I am deeply honored to have the wise council of these two souls in this project. I have also benefited personally, both professionally and spiritually, from my friendship with these two great leaders over the years I've been privileged to call them my friends.
Diana Clark is rector of St. John's, Montclair, NJ. She is a former President of the Standing Committee and will be attending her second General Convention as Deputy in Anaheim. Her wisdom flows not only from experience but from a deep spiritual well which is nourished by her commitment to a life of prayer.
Fran Trott was the first editor of Ruach, the magazine of The Episcopal Women's Caucus, which she produced on her kitchen table using her typewriter and the mimeograph machine at her church. She is a voracious reader and tireless advocate for the rights of women. I have never known Fran to pull a punch, so fasten your seat belts and put on your crash helmets, kids. Fran is going to tell it like she sees it.
A "daughter of the Diocese," Bev Huck is the rector of Church of The Savior in Denville, NJ and has served the diocese in a variety of significant capacities over the years. She is presently serving her second term on the Standing Committee. Bev's practical, no-nonsense, pragmatic approach has always been deeply instructive to me.
As the second woman to be "regularly ordained" in the Diocese of Newark, Abby Hamilton is one of my 'spiritual mothers' - a rare combination of biting humor and divinely inspired eloquence, mixed in with the kind of skeptical optimism I have come to trust and love. She has often told me things I didn't want to hear, but she has never - not once - given me bad advice. I'm thrilled to have our own "Dear Abby" on the panel (although, she really wanted to have the nome de plume of "The Wicked Witch of West NJ". A note on that later.)
Before she retired to Florida a year ago, Maggie Gat served as rector of St. John's in Dover, NJ. Born in South America, Maggie is bi-lingual and had an important ministry among the large Hispanic community in what is sometimes affectionately called "Dover Rica". Maggie always sees the bigger picture from a very different perspective than mine. She has always challenged me to look at an issue from both sides before making a decision. Her's will be an important voice in this forum.
The most recent thing I can say about Denise Haines is that she is a stellar example of how to flunk retirement. I think this is the third time she's come out of retirement, having previously served the diocese as Archdeacon, a supervisor for Clinical Pastoral Education in NYC, and now serves the diocese as an Interim Canon (again!), assisting Bishop Beckwith with Clergy Deployment and Congregations in Transition. Her wisdom is born of experience on the front lines of the emergence of ordained women in The Episcopal Church.
So, that's the panel. As others join or some leave us, I'll update the information so you'll know who will be responding to your questions.
One very quick note: While in most cases the identity of the author(s) of the questions submitted will not be revealed, the panel of First Friday Responders insisted on complete transparency. I offered them the opportunity to take on a "Dear Abby" persona, and almost to a person, that option was rejected. I think that speaks volumes about the integrity of the folks you'll soon be hearing from.
Tune in tomorrow for the First Friday question and some of the panel's answers.
Oh, and by the way, you'll also have an opportunity to respond the question as well as to their responses.
I am excited about this little experiment. I hope you are, too.