After much anticipation and following a series of poignant farewells filled with love, tears and lots of memories in South Florida, Susan and I arrived in New Jersey on Monday, July 29. Susan thought it would be fun and interesting for us to enter New Jersey by way of the Cape May Ferry rather than simply taking the Turnpike which we both have done countless times. It was a brilliant idea.
We spent Sunday night in Norfolk and got on the road early enough Monday to make the 12:45 PM ferry from Lewes, Delaware. The trip took us across the impressive and historic Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The weather for the ferry ride was perfect, a little cloud cover, about 80 degrees and a slight breeze. On May 4th, following the election, Susan had given me a purple baseball cap embroidered with the words Bishop-Elect which I wore on the boat.
We both felt excitement, and also some apprehension, as we considered the many challenges and adventures that await us in this new phase of our lives and ministries – new home, new city, new diocese, new office for me, Susan not working on payroll, leaving parish life and the sense of deep community that comes with it for the more transient life of a bishop and spouse going to a different church each week in a huge diocese of a 154 parishes and missions. It is all pretty overwhelming. Still, we sense Christ in all of this and feel the Spirit palpably at work. We have also heard from many well-wishers in the Diocese of New Jersey who have enthusiastically welcomed us and are equally excited, wondering what God has in store for us all in this next era in the life of the Diocese of New Jersey. This enthusiasm and energy from so many in the Diocese of New Jersey has strengthened us and given us confidence in this time of major transition for us all.
Upon landing in Cape May, we plugged the address of St. Peter’s by-the-Sea into the GPS and drove by that historic, beautiful, weather-worn, “cottage church.” It was closed, but we enjoyed walking around the grounds and breathing in the beach air.
After this, we drove to Advent Church in Cape May where we were warmly welcomed by Fr. John Mitchell despite our surprising him by showing up unannounced. He gave us a tour of his active church. It was great to hear about all that is going on there. A week-long choir camp had just finished. A major capital project is underway. It is evident that the Church of the Advent is a vital part of the community in which it is set. Before we got back in the road, we asked Fr. John to pray for us and bless us on our way. His prayer and blessing moved us deeply. We prayed for him, for the people of Advent and of the diocese and left Cape May filed with joy, feeling it had been a grace-filled way for us to enter the Diocese of New Jersey and this new beginning in our lives and faith.