Tuesday, March 1, 2011

8th Sunday After the Epiphany 2011

Dear Chaplains and Members of the Federal Ministries Community, This past Friday, February 25th, 2011, was a very special day for this episcopacy. I had the privilege of escorting our Presiding Bishop, the most Rev’d Katharine Jefferts Schori, and our Public Affairs Officer, Ms. Neva Rae Fox, aboard the USS George H.W. Bush and the USS Harry S. Truman. Both of these aircraft carriers were alongside at the piers at Naval Base Norfolk (Virginia). The trip was hosted by our Episcopal Chaplain Cam Fish, Command Chaplain for the BUSH and by Chaplain Steve Shaw, a clergy person of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Command Chaplain for the Commander, U.S. Naval Air Force Atlantic. My episcopal intent for the day was to give the Presiding Bishop and our Public Affairs Officer a succinct overview of and introduction to ministry in the sea services. Short of taking them to sea, which we plan to do at a later date, we accomplished all I had hoped we would. Aboard the BUSH we toured the ceremonial spaces, hanger, aviation handler’s spaces, flight deck, bridge, air control tower, ship’s library, chapel, and had lunch with sailors in the crew’s mess. Afterward we went to the TRUMAN where we were honored guests at the change of command for the Commander, US Naval Air Force Atlantic, a ceremony steeped in some of the best Navy traditions. At one point in the ceremony the Presiding Bishop leaned over to me and quietly said, “Nice liturgy.” And it was. As we were leaving the base en route to the Norfolk airport I asked my guests what amongst the activities of the day stood out to them. At first both answered that it was the quality of the people, both sailors and chaplains. That response was particularly meaningful to me since one mantra of our episcopacy has been to emphasize our need to recruit Episcopal priests who are known for the high quality of their ministry. Then, after a brief pause, they had an even more poignant observation. They told me how impressed they were by how closely the chaplains they encountered came into contact with those whom they served. In comparison with the parish and other types of chaplaincy models, indeed Federal chaplains live the same basic lifestyle as the persons they serve. Surely some of you would like to showcase your ministry to the Presiding Bishop. Repeatedly she has told me that she is ready to travel with me to see the ministry you deliver and the places where your ministry is provided. Get creative. If you had 24 hours of the Presiding Bishop’s time, what components of your splendid ministry would you have her see? Let me hear from you. +Jay

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