By the Rev. Dr. Sally J. French Bishop-Elect of the Diocese of New Jersey
One of my favorite books on leadership is How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season by Susan Beaumont. Beaumont’s reflections on leadership and congregations are good, but what really caught my attention (after the catchy title) was her focus on liminal time. Liminal time is threshold time, when we stand in between what has been and what will be. And, as you can probably imagine, it has become very familiar to me over the past year. I am in-between. I am not yet the thirteenth Bishop of New Jersey, but I am on my way. We are not yet connected as bishop and people, but we already share a relationship, and I am so grateful for the connection. It is a gift to be here in the Diocese of New Jersey in this liminal time.
Over the past month, I have visited the
(clergy) meetings in each of our convocations. Most of those journeys have been with Bishop Stokes and it has been good to travel across the diocese, to visit different churches, and to gather with priests and deacons in all stages and types of ministry. At each gathering, I was impressed with the gifts, energy, and faithfulness of our clergy. When we arrived at a meeting, we would spend some time together with the group and then divide into two smaller groups for questions and conversation. I was struck by how very welcoming people have been. They wanted to know if our move has gone well (it has), how we are all settling in (happily!), and what everyone is up to.
If you’re wondering: my husband Clarke is now serving as the interim rector at St. Peter’s, Pine Street, in downtown Philadelphia. It’s a position he is genuinely excited about and one that engages his best gifts and skills. My children are settled in their new schools and both Jack (a junior) and Libby (7th grade) are doing well in school. Moving is hard (especially for teens), and we have been blessed.
This is liminal time for all of us—for me and my family, and for the Diocese of New Jersey. There is a lot for me still to learn and a lot for us to figure out together. I am grateful to Bishop Stokes, for the ways that he has invited me into this ministry and for his wisdom, encouragement, and support. As we move toward June 24, I will be stepping into more of the active ministries of the bishop. This feels like a healthy transition, and I appreciate this in-between time when we still have the wisdom and support of the 12th Bishop while I am learning to become the 13th.
Speaking of becoming the 13th bishop, please do plan to join us on June 24th, 10:00 am at Trinity Cathedral. While we will have some extra seating for those who have not registered, we hope you’ll take a moment and let us know before June 5 if you plan to attend.
If you would like to be in touch about this, or about anything at all, I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org