Dear Christ Church Cathedral community and friends,
This letter comes to let you know that both Canon Michael Boney and I are announcing today that we have been called to serve other congregations.
Michael Boney has accepted a call to be the next Director of Music at St. John’s Cathedral, Denver. This is a wonderful opportunity at a vibrant, historic cathedral, with a long history of fine music making. He is returning to the Rocky Mountain West, a region he came to love while serving in Idaho. His last Sunday at Christ Church will be April 28. In his correspondence to me announcing this change, Michael wrote:
This has not been an easy decision for me (or Frank), but I believe that God will provide, for me and Christ Church, all that is needed to further God’s kingdom on earth. My time here has been enriched by your support and commitment to true music ministry. We have accomplished a great deal over the past four years, and I believe the seeds we have planted will bear much fruit in the years to come. The time that I have spent here has better equipped me to continue the ministry of music for which I have been called.
Over the past six months, I have been praying and discerning the Spirit’s movement in my life, and I believe I have been called to serve God in another place. This has not been an easy call to answer due to the love, respect, and support I have received from Christ Church Cathedral’s clergy, staff, and community over the past four years. My heart is heavy having to say goodbye, but joyful to see what the Spirit has in store for me and Christ Church Cathedral.
Working with Michael at Christ Church has been a gift and joy to me that I do not expect to experience again. I celebrate his gifts, faithfulness and accomplishments, wish him a thriving ministry in Denver, and will miss him immensely as colleague and friend.
In a similar way, Jen and I have been in discernment vocationally for some time. However, no parish or position I looked at appealed to me nearly as much as the ministry I have had among you at Christ Church for the past dozen years. The sort of ministry we are doing together here is innovative and exciting. The way we have become an intercultural, multilingual congregation; the way we have aligned ourselves in solidarity with the marginalized and vulnerable; and the way this vision has been embraced by capable staff and courageous lay leadership— all of these things are rare. As I looked at positions that would be natural “next steps” professionally, I found nothing as appealing as our ministry together right now.
Then our conversations took a sudden, surprising turn: what if I took what I have learned with and from you as your Dean and shared it with congregations who do not have large endowments or staff? Just asking this question unleashed so much energy and passion, I realized that I had to pursue it. Furthermore, the possibility of returning to more hands-on, direct ministry was also especially appealing after many years of ministry here and previously that were highly administrative, supervisory, and financial in focus. Finally, since our sabbatical bicycle tour/adventure together, Jen and I have embraced a simpler lifestyle. So while I am being called to what some might think of as a “professionally downward,” next-step we believe that it is missionally forward and positive for our lives.
To go where God is calling me, I need to do much more discernment and reflection; discernment and reflection I cannot do as Dean of Christ Church. It would be too public and too distracting given the demands of cathedral life. To that end, I am taking a position as interim rector, at St. Paul’s, Key West, Florid,. during which time, I will be discerning my future and searching for a call in which I can share what I have learned from you and with you. My last Sunday at Christ Church will be March 31. I began as your Dean on April 1, 2007. This means that I will have served you for exactly a dozen, eventful, exciting, challenging, fruitful, God-blessed years.
Given the coincidence of Michael and I giving this notice at the same time, I want to make this very clear: that these announcements are occurring at the same time was as surprising to us as I am sure they will be surprising to you. Michael and I were both in processes of discernment that were personal, spiritual and vocational—and unknown to one another until a week and half ago. I have valued working with Michael as colleague and friend through his time here at Christ Church. Michael is a strong supporter of the vision of ministry that we have been working on together. I ask that we all be open to the surprise and challenge for each of us and for Christ Church and together celebrate what God is doing among us, individually and together.
You are in good hands. Our Senior Warden, Johnnie Alex, and the Vestry are strong, faithful and committed to our vision and ministry. Our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, loves her cathedral. She and her staff are committed to helping you thrive in ministry. This weekend, the senior staff and Vestry will be on retreat at Waycross. The Canon to the Ordinary, the Rev. Canon Kristin White, who oversees transition ministry in the Diocese, will be joining us for part of the time to discuss next steps for Christ Church.
Over the past few years, I have regularly asked this question: whenever in the Bible did God’s people respond to God’s call and find that it went exactly as they had predicted?—Never! Not once. Being surprised by God is part of being faithful and called. It cannot be otherwise because God’s Spirit working within us is always doing “infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” Let us commit to prayer for one another, to reflection, celebration, to laughter, and to tears, as we all respond to God’s call and what God has in store for us.