Monday, August 19, 2013

Week One – Wading into the waters!

After  a glorious Sunday (8/4) at Princeton Theological Seminary with the Montreal Boys Choir Course (see blog entry of 8/11) , Susan and I spent Monday continuing to bring order out of the chaos that currently is our home. Our home in the Hiltonia section of Trenton is a lovely 3 bedroom Colonial home that is perfect for us and has room for our children and grandchildren when they visit. There is a large family room in the back of the house that overlooks what, by our standards, is a huge backyard.  We’re looking forward to watching the seasons change through these windows.  Over our 18 years in Florida we have missed the seasons.  

There were minor glitches in our move.  The refrigerator in the house didn’t work, so we spent our first week eating all meals out.  They now know us well at the Two Peter’s Diner on North Olden! 
View from our family room
Tuesday, August 6 was my first official day at 808 W. State Street.   Before going to the office however, I joined a group of citizens concerned about the state of things in Trenton, who meet for breakfast every Tuesday morning at The Sunshine Luncheonette on Warren Street.   I was told it was a smaller group than usual (only three were present), but they helped give me a sense of things in this struggling city from their perspective which I found helpful.  Needless to say, with a Mayor under indictment on charges of corruption, a Governor and State Legislature that refuse to work with that Mayor because of his indictment, things are very dysfunctional in Trenton which, in 2013, is on the verge of seeing a record homicide rate.   If there ever was a time for concerned citizens to speak out, this is it!

 I arrived at the office just before 9:00 A.M. and was warmly welcomed by staff.   It was not long before everyone gathered for Morning Prayer in the small conference room.   This was followed by some catching up with one another.  Bishop Councell had just returned from vacation, so there were stories to hear about his time in Colorado.  

 Mary Ann Rhoads, Executive Assistant to the Bishop,  had kept Bishop Councell's and my calendars clear for the first few days.  This allowed us time to meet and time for me to be brought up to speed on life in the diocese and gain some insight about the parishes.   We were joined by Canon to the Ordinary, John Sosnowski, Chief Financial Officer, Phyllis Jones and Canon for Transitions, Cecilia Alavarez as we began a parish by parish review.   I also began to meet with staff one-on-one to begin building my relationship with them and to hear from them what their hopes and expectations are for me as bishop and what they feel is vital in the life of the Diocese of New Jersey.   I am most impressed by diocesan staff and feel they are a great gift to us all.  I am sorry that Canon Cynthia McFarland has not been able to be with us and is stepping down from her responsibilities as Canon for Communications for medical reasons.  We are all keeping her in our prayers.   She will continue to serve as Archivist and Historian which is a blessing to us all.
On Thursday, August 8, I had lunch with Dean Renè John.  There was a brief time when our paths crossed in the Diocese of Long Island, but we did not really know each other.  We began to build a relationship during the walk-abouts.  Now we are becoming friends as we figure out how we will work together both through the ministry of Trinity Cathedral and in the wider community of Trenton.  I am most grateful for his ministry and insights and look forward to serving with him.   He shared with me that he and his lovely wife Andrea would be away that weekend so that Andrea would receive her degree from Virginia College, a major accomplishment!  Congratulations, Andrea!!
Thursday afternoon, I also met with Canon Linda Moeller who is now the “point person” organizing the Consecration which is scheduled to take place on November 2. We have been unable to do very much about this because the consent process needed to be completed.  Having now received word that all the necessary consents have been received, it is full steam ahead.   Needless to say, there is a great deal to do between now and then.   Linda’s tremendous organizational skills will be put to good use.  Thanks, Linda!

On Sunday, we worshipped at the Church of the Atonement under the leadership of The Rev. Jayne Oasin, a longtime friend with whom I served on the Anti-Racism Committee of the Episcopal Church.   Susan and I are very much enjoying driving to different parts of the diocese and discovering new places and new people.  The Church of the Atonement is a small jewel of a church.  It is immaculately kept and we received a warm welcome from Jayne and the members of the parish.  Jayne preached an excellent sermon on faith and fear using the idea of Abraham being called to go to a place he did not know as her point of departure.  Susan and I can identify with that.  
with The Rev. Jayne Oasin and Brandon Jones 

All in all, my first week was a time to start building relationship and to begin learning about this large diocese and its enormous challenges.  It feels great to be on the ground after months of anticipation and to begin wading into the waters!

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