I have a confession to make. For the past two months, I have been living a lie. Now that I have your attention, let me explain. Since I first started at Trinity, I have referred to myself on many occasions as the “rector.” But technically, I am not yet the rector of Trinity. Priests have to be installed as rectors by the bishop. Up to this point, I have been the priest-in-charge of Trinity, not the rector. But since the bishop referred to me as the rector when he came for the 10th anniversary, I took that as permission to call myself the rector.
You might wonder, how can a priest be installed as a rector? Isn’t an installation something we do with appliances? Before you run out and buy mounting brackets to affix me to the altar (!), perhaps some background on this tradition in the church will be helpful.
The bishop of a diocese is the chief pastor of every congregation in that diocese. All clergy who serve in his diocese are his representatives to the individual congregations. In fact, this is the origin of the term ‘vicar.’ A vicar is someone who serves vicariously for (or in place of) the bishop. As the church grew and spread and churches had multiple priests, the tradition developed of calling the head priest in a parish by the term “rector,” which comes from the Latin term for king ‘rex.’ The bishop has the authority and responsibility to place clergy in ministry positions and remove them from those ministry positions.
On February 4th at 10 am, I will be installed as the second rector of Trinity Anglican Church by the Rt. Rev. Neil Lebhar, bishop of the Diocese of the Gulf Atlantic. This is a time for the whole congregation to gather, joined by representatives from the wider diocese, and celebrate what God is doing through the congregation at Trinity in Thomasville. It is a time for the congregation to be reminded of their connection to the diocese and their chief pastor, the bishop. Lastly, it is a time for you to welcome me as your rector as I take up the responsibility of shepherding you in this next season.
I sincerely hope that all of you will be able to join me to mark this joyous occasion!
Your (almost) Rector