Who Is that Priest?
Well, he’s called “Father Al” but his given name is Alfred J. Jewson, and for the next few months he will lead you as priest, pastor, counselor, and teacher as your new Interim Rector. St. Martin’s Episcopal Church is the fourth church in this diocese that I have served as Interim Rector: Christ Church, Cape Girardeau; Church of the Transfiguration, Lake St. Louis; and St. Paul’s Church in Carondelet.
First of all permit me to present a little “bio”, then an introduction to what I will be doing. I am the youngest of three children born to Alfred and Lillian Jewson. My oldest sister, Jean is developmentally disabled and I am her guardian. The middle sister is Carolyn who lives in California with her husband Dan. They have five children and twelve grandchildren. I am married to Dayna, who grew up in southern California and we have two living children: Angela married to Neil and they have three children and Joe married to Amy and they have two children. Dayna is a Registered Nurse and a Deacon assigned to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Manchester. Dayna and I live in Maplewood, Missouri. Oh, and we have an American Cocker Spaniel, who is a bit neurotic. I was raised Roman Catholic and ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1969. Eventually, I left the Roman Catholic Church and began attending the Episcopal Church. Dayna, a “cradle” Episcopalian introduced me to the Episcopal Church. When I began attending I realized that the Episcopal Church was home. In 1994 I was received a priest by the Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri where I engaged in my entire pastoral ministry. In 2010-2011 I was certified in Appreciative Transitional Ministry as an Interim Rector. That’s enough of my “bio” for now. The more important part of my presence at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church is what I will be doing with and for you.
Part of my job is to be a presence here for you as priest and pastor, and from one perspective that is the most important gift I can offer. On the other hand, my purpose at St. Martin’s Church is described by the word, “interim”. My primary duty is to help you through this time of transition: to help you grieve the departure of Jon Hall; to assist you in evaluating where you are now as a congregation and, where in your wildest dreams, you picture St. Martin’s Church in the future; to further the good work already begun here; and to recognize the presence of the Spirit among, within and around your spirit, both as a community of faith and as individual disciples of Jesus Christ.
I firmly believe that God has given me the gifts and talents to lead the vestry and congregation through this period to a place of positive planning for the future of St. Martin’s Church. Concern and anxiety driven by the fear of uncertainty can do much harm to a congregation; but you already have a positive momentum and are taking steps to continue to be a congregation that reaches out and reaches in.
The work of the church always has only Plan A and Plan B as outcomes. Place A is one of comfort, filled with goals reached, accomplishments achieved, and things that worked out. Right now Place A is also a place of uncertainty and we need to move from it. It is challenging for any congregation to move to new place, but, in reality, you have done such many times in your history. Now it is time to move again. St. Martin’s Church is in a place of new challenges, but also, new opportunities. One of the ways that I can assist you is to provide the synergy to continue all of those good things that God has provided in the past through Father Jon and other leaders to help this congregation recognize the need for reaching out to others and reaching in to each other through the love of Christ. Another way is to help you through the period of uncertainty and grief; another is to aid you in focusing on what is God’s continuing plan for this congregation. Finally, and perhaps most important, I have a deep and abiding love for the people of God. I will love you through the process!
Father Alfred Jewson