Monday, July 25, 2011

Rector Position Available in Northern Virginia

Dear Friends,

Our beloved rector, The Rev. Scott Dillard, will retire this May after 18 years of service at Wicomico Parish Church. We are grateful to him for our joyful worship services, for helping us find Christian purpose in our lives, for parish stability and growth, and for our prayerful awareness of who we are and where we are headed.

As such, we will be seeking a new rector. Most importantly, we want a spiritual leader who is able to preach and make scripture relevant to our daily lives. We have little interest in evangelism or church politics, are traditional in many ways, and respect the variety of understandings and interpretations that exist among us. We are most comfortable with an informal style and an outgoing, communicative and self-confident manner, and we also appreciate a sense of humor.

We recognize the need for a pastor to counsel and guide us in times of spiritual and personal crisis. More specifically, we seek one who is comfortable dealing with the fears and uncertainties of the aging and elderly while appreciating their wealth of experience and depth of understanding regarding life’s joys and sorrows.

Wicomico Parish Church is a small country church founded in 1645, and located in the Northern Neck of Virginia. We enjoy almost 200 miles of waterfront, open fields, forests, and small towns as well as many social and cultural activities and facilities. Those who live here embrace our rural setting and slower pace of life.

The members of our church number approximately 200, the majority of whom are married, retired, well educated, active, over 60 years of age and from diverse backgrounds. We are known for our warmth and friendliness as well as our commitment to outreach. There is nothing stuffy about us.

Sunday worship services are held at 8 AM and 10 AM, and the average attendance at both is around 50 parishioners. The early service is briefer and more informal than the later one. Each service involves lay volunteers who read the scripture, lead the prayers and serve as chalice bearers. The 10 AM service also includes our choir, acolytes and ushers.

Parishioners at Wicomico Parish Church feel a strong sense of community, both in our parish life and in our efforts to care for those beyond our walls. Volunteers are willingly involved in many efforts and events throughout the year for both fellowship and to support outreach projects.
Our church building is the kind found on postcards, with a parish hall connected by a breezeway, a thrift shop, a cemetery and a columbarium. Our rectory, “Wicomico House,” is over 150 years old but has been recently renovated.

Please visit and contact us at any time.
Point of contact is Marshall Waterman, Chairperson of our Search Committee whose email is:

Funeral for Bill Mahedy

The funeral for Bill Mahedy will be July 30th at 10AM at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in La Jolla. The address is:
4321 Eastgate Mall
San Diego, CA 92121-2102

There will be a reception at the church immediately after. Internment will be at the National Cemetery at a later time.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Death of the Reverend Bill Mahedy

I write with a combination of human sadness and resurrection joy to inform you that the Reverend Bill Mahedy, who for many years was a member of this episcopacy, has died. After a long and ultimately debilitating illness, Bill died yesterday, July 20th, at the V.A Medical Center in San Diego. Plans for scheduling The Burial Rite are still pending.

I last spoke with Bill on the afternoon before he died. As I told his son Mike, in our final conversation Bill continued to be lucid and took solace in the opportunities he had to care for "vets." It is no small coincidence that roughly at the time of his dying, within the community of faith that meets for the weekly Eucharist in the Chapel of the Pentagon, we prayed for Bill.

Bill was a friend and mentor to many of us, me included. During the almost 20 years I knew him, I found Bill to be the type of man whom you could immediately identify as a person of quiet and immense significance. I consider Bill to have been the “dean” of wisdom on the subject of the spiritual components of post traumatic stress in military veterans. During his nearly two decades as a Roman Catholic priest he was an Army chaplain for three years, one year of which was spent in Vietnam. For some time Bill had been developing a sense of affection and appreciation for veterans, and his Vietnam chaplaincy experience served to heighten and sharpen that sense. It was during the 1970s that Bill married Carol and also became an Episcopal priest. Simultaneously, Bill went to work for the VA and was instrumental in the establishment of the Vietnam Vet Centers that for years were the storefront connections with wounded warriors from the Vietnam War.

Right up to the time of his death Bill continued to be engaged and was current enough on the subject of the care of combat veterans to be asked by Navy leaders to work in their wounded warrior program. The author of several books, I consider his 1986 volume, Out of the Night: The Spiritual Journey of Vietnam Veterans, to be his seminal work. I approached this book with a “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” mentality. As a fellow Vietnam veteran. I am keenly aware that those who want to provide effective spiritual care for wounded warriors are well advised to understand what Bill teaches readers of this book.

Please join me in offering prayers the repose of Bill’s soul, and for his wife, Carol and family.
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Bill Mahedy. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of our own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. AMEN (Commendation prayer of Burial Rite II, The Book of Common Prayer: BCP, p. 499).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Following 12 months of research, frustration, collection of data, and the formation of an IT strategy, I can now let you know that we are on a fast-track leading to the development of an enhanced system for both internal and external communications. We are working with a respected web development firm to create, establish, and maintain a new web site that will have the capability to communicate both public and private information to those seeking an ecclesiastical endorsement from this office and those who are holding a current ecclesiastical endorsement.

Though the specific details for our new web site are still under development, I can tell you that the new site will have a page that is open to everyone including those who are seeking basic information regarding chaplaincy in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense. The process of application for my ecclesiastical endorsement to serve in these agencies as an Episcopal chaplain will be accessible on this page. There will also be a password-protected section of the new web site that will be accessible only to those who have a current ecclesiastical endorsement from me.

As soon as we have a release date for the new site my Executive Officer, the Rev. Dr. Wally Jensen, will make an announcement to that effect, and passwords will be issued to those who qualify as ecclesiastically endorsed Episcopal Chaplains. Though I regret that it is taking so long to establish an effective communications medium, I believe that you will be pleased with our new web site and the resources that will be made available to you.

+Jay Magness

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Laura Adelia's Ordination

On the 2nd of July we ordained Air National Guard chaplain Laura Adelia to the sacred order of priests, the first ordination of a priest in this episcopacy since I became Bishop for the Armed Services and Federal Ministries. The ordination was celebrated at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Sedona, AZ. The Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith, Bishop Diocesan of Arizona, was the ordaining bishop. Bishop Smith graciously invited me to assist him with the ordination.

Laura, a chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) in the ANG, had been an ordained clergy person of the United Church of Christ. Most recently Laura completed a deployment with the ANG to Antarctica and achieved the distinction of being the first female chaplain to have wintered over in Antarctica. This past May, in anticipation of her impending ordination to the priesthood, Laura attended our annual Episcopal Federal Chaplains Training Conference in Roslyn, VA, where many of us had the opportunity to meet Laura for the first time.

Laura is currently completing a Clinical Pastoral Education unit at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Palo Alto, CA. Upon completion of this phase of her clinical training she will split her time between her ANG chaplaincy and serving as a college chaplain in the Diocese of Arizona.

We welcome Laura into our community of federal chaplains!

Bishop Jay
The Rt. Rev. James B. "Jay" Magness, D.Min.
Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Services and Federal Ministries

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Religious Reflection for Independence Day, 2011

As we celebrate the 235th anniversary of our existence as a nation, we have many things for which to celebrate and be thankful. One of the bedrocks for our country which I most appreciate is the way we have maintained our sense of religious freedom and kept to the tenets of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. Through life experience I have learned that our commitment to religious freedom requires renewal with each successive generation. Never can we can take for granted that all of our citizens will understand and appreciate this crucial component of our history.

In the current era of expanding religious diversity and pluralism a striking number of our fellow citizens are voicing their opinion that we are an exclusively Christian nation with little room for other faith traditions. I have often wondered if there is something more to this attitude than a simple quest for religious purity. Scott Bader-Saye partially addresses this question for me in his book Following Jesus in a Culture of FEAR (Brazos Press, Grand Rapids: 2007). Bader-Saye raises for me the question of whether such Christian exclusivity could be built upon a foundation of fear, a fear that other religions will push Christianity from the center of the public square. As I read Bader-Saye’s book I wonder if such ways of thinking are symptoms of the ever-present fears of life in a post 9/11 world. It seems to me that we may be at a societal crossroads at which we are faced with a choice between the embrace of religious diversity or the development of a Constantine-like city-state that is governed by the tenets of the scriptures. Yes, I recognize that life will never be as simple as an either/or decision, but the implications of these decisions are significant for me.

During the early years of my professional career as a Navy chaplain I learned a very important lesson about religious diversity. In 1980 when I was a young lieutenant chaplain I was asked to participate in a retirement ceremony for a Navy captain. Without thinking very much about my constituents at the ceremony, I offered a prayer with a closing something like: "In the name of Christ our Lord." Afterward the newly-minted retiree came up to me and calmly said that though he was thankful that I had participated, he was a practicing Jew who did not appreciate my prayers for him that were concluded in Jesus' name. That day I became aware of how much I had offended one of God's children. Through this experience I learned that the context of ministry for a military chaplain, who in this case happened to be a priest of The Episcopal Church, was radically different than that of the parishes I had served in preceding years.

During the next 24 additional years of my active service to the men and women of the Armed Services I became mindful that my vocation was to be a religious leader called to care for all uniformed men and women, regardless of their religious affiliation, or lack of same. As a practicing Christian chaplain I learned to be very judicious to distinguish between prayers offered in public government and military command functions from prayers offered for my own Christian faith community.

When I took the commissioning oath as a Navy Chaplain Corps officer I began to realize that I had made a commitment to care for the religious needs of all those committed to my care, not just the Christians. Over time I learned to ensure that my people always had access to appropriate religious support and simultaneously could be protected from inappropriate religious incursions. I learned that the religious needs of each Marine, Sailor, Coast Guardsman, Soldier, and Airman always took precedence over my own needs. Though on occasion, I have offered prayers that would not include the name of Jesus, this by no means implied that I had any less of a commitment to the Lordship of Jesus in my life. It only meant that I was mindful of the diversity of religious traditions of others for whom my prayers were offered.

Within the public square, whether it is in the local city hall or in an Army battalion formation, I have come to believe that the religious needs of the person or persons to whom I offer ministry are of higher importance than my own religious needs. Prior to granting my ecclesiastical endorsement to Episcopal clergy who seek to serve as military chaplains, they must affirm for me that they are so well formed and mature in their Christian beliefs that they are not threatened by those whose beliefs may be different from theirs. This part of their Christian formation includes an understanding that they are not overwhelmed by a need to impose their beliefs upon another person within the military service.

Frequently I hear the supporters of religious diversity calling for tolerance and coexistence. I have concluded that in our country the demands of dynamic pluralism render religious tolerance and coexistence as inadequate. If our country is to continue to be the celebrated nation many of us have come to cherish, I realize that we may want to take our attitudes about religious diversity to the next level. That next level is the embrace of religious respect and intentional inclusion. With an appreciation of American history, there are plenty of reasons to believe that through the exercise of religious respect and inclusion that we will be a stronger and more united country.

I recognize that the tension between religious diversity and Christian exclusivity can at times be difficult. My best hope is that this tension will be marked by a spirit of creativity. I believe that as long as we ensure that there is an honored place at the table of civic life for all persons of all faiths, we will fulfill our responsibility to continue to make our great country a place where all citizens are valued and appreciated.