For the next few weeks, Bishop Stokes and Bishop-Elect French will alternate writing weekly messages to the diocese. This week, the Bishop-Elect reflects on her first few weeks serving in our diocese.
As a young adult, I walked into a service of Holy Eucharist one Sunday morning and felt like I had come home. The place and the people were new, but the service itself was deeply familiar, the space felt alive, God was somehow present, and I knew at once that I was where I needed to be. In the 30 years since then, I have learned that whenever I feel that deep sense of home, I am where I need to be, God is good, and I give thanks.
In New Jersey, I feel like I have come home. I’ve been visiting congregations, joining meetings, and gathering with clergy and leaders from across the diocese. My family and I have been made to feel so very welcome, but this is more than simple hospitality. I do not feel like a visitor or guest in our congregations, but like a member of the diocesan family who has come home, and I am so very glad to be here.
I’m spending my time between now and June 24 getting to know congregations, clergy, lay leaders, ministries, and committees. On Sundays, I am visiting congregations. I began with a Sunday at Trinity Cathedral in Trenton, and since then, I have visited St. James’, Long Branch; Holy Trinity, South River; Cristo Rey, Trenton; Holy Apostles, Yardville; and Trinity Cathedral again for the Racial Justice and Reparations service of Evening Prayer last Sunday. On Saturdays, I am participating in diocesan services including two ordinations last week and the diocesan confirmation service and Evensong with the Installation of Canons, both scheduled for tomorrow. We do services well in New Jersey and it has been wonderful to be with our congregations as we celebrate new clergy, renew our commitment to anti-racism, and worship together.
On weekdays, I’m taking time to connect with staff and with clergy and lay leaders in the Diocese of New Jersey, attending meetings, and finding opportunities to learn about the good work our many congregations and ministries are doing. It’s energizing to see how much good is done by our churches, and what a difference congregations are making in their communities and for their members. As I make these connections, I am beginning to get a sense of some of the work that lies ahead.
Throughout it all, I have been grateful to Bishop Stokes, who has welcomed me into this work and is generous with his wisdom and time. I can see the care and love he and Susan have for our diocese, for the congregations, and for people of New Jersey. I give thanks for their ministries.
In the weeks before my ordination and consecration, I will continue to familiarize myself with our many ministries, and meet with congregations, clergy and lay leaders. I look forward to celebrating with you on June 24. While there is space for everyone who wishes to attend the service on June 24, please use the online form to let us know if you will attend.
I have met so many people in my new diocesan family so far. If I have already met you, thank you for making me feel welcome and at home. If we haven’t met yet, I’m looking forward to entering this new ministry with you and learning from you. I invite you to send me email at any time if you have questions or even just wish to say hello.
For now, I remain grateful for the welcome and so very glad to be at home in the Diocese of New Jersey.