Church of Our Saviour

21 Marathon Street | Arlington, Massachusetts | 781-648-5962

Tales of Hofmann: Many, Many Thanks

On Saturday, June 16, I was ordained a Deacon by Bishop Tom Shaw at the Cathedral of St. Paul. On Sunday, June 17, Malia invited me to come to Church of Our Saviour to preach and serve at the altar for my first official action as a Deacon. And, quite honestly, over a month and a half later, I am still overwhelmed with the joy and peace that I experienced during that special weekend in June.

As many of you know, it has been a long journey – seven years to be exact. It has included my decision to leave my full-time job at Northeastern University to attend the Episcopal Divinity School to earn my Master of Divinity degree in 2009 (a “seed” that was planted by the Rev. Linda Privitera), my participation in a parish discernment process to ascertain if I was indeed being called by God to ordained ministry as a Deacon (thanks to the Rev. Lily DeYoung who encouraged me through my reluctance and many thanks to a thoughtful, challenging and prayerful discernment committee led by Rose and including David, Kevin, Suzanne, Rob), and, after finally being accepted into the ordination process by the Commission on Ministry of the Diocese of Massachusetts, my participation in the three-year Deacon formation program held at Bethany House right here in Arlington (where I was joined by six wonderful colleagues — together, we are “the Magnificent Seven” ).

Along the way, I was challenged to enter into different forms of ministry, moving outside my comfort zone and encountering new manifestations of God’s love. I worked with refugees and asylum seekers, volunteered as a chaplain at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, served one year as a Deacon Intern at St. Michael’s in Holliston, MA, and, most recently, participated as a chaplain in the B-Safe program at Epiphany School in Dorchester. Indeed, for the past two years, I have been mostly missing from COS services and activities because of these assignments. And, it has been hard knowing that, once ordained, I would be asked by the bishop to leave the COS congregation that has been my home (“my beloved community”) for all these years in order to serve the church in new ways. As a Deacon, I am charged to bring the concerns of the world to the church and to bring the gifts of the church to the
world – to be a real “nudge” in the words of our Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori. That means that I need to be available to move around, as the Bishop determines.

So, what is next? In September I begin my service as the Deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain. Actually, they have already started to put me to work attending a vestry planning retreat and preaching. My work with them for the next three years will focus on identifying and engaging mission and outreach – how God is calling them to be present now to the needs of their community. Under their rector, the Rev. Anne Fowler, St. John’s has been a prophetic witness on issues of gay rights and same-sex marriage as well as other social justice issues. Anne will be retiring in the summer of 2013 and I will continue to work with the congregation while they go through the search process to call a new rector (sound familiar?).

In my visits with the people of St. John’s, I have felt immediately at home – they have the same “mustard seed” spirit that COS has, the same commitment to liturgy and spirituality, the same passion for social justice, and, yes, many of the same issues of an aging church building. St. John’s is even located on a one way street in a neighborhood hidden away in JP – helping people even find the
church is a big problem for them, too. Of course, there are differences as well and I am looking forward to getting to know them and to love them – it helps a great deal to have already had this nurturing experience at COS.

As I continue my journey, I know that we will keep in touch and find ways to stay connected. I am, of course, taking with me your wonderful gift of an inscribed green Deacon’s stole (presented by Rose on my first Sunday as an ordained Deacon). Every time I wear it, I will be especially reminded of the support and love that you have shown me. Please keep me and the people of St. John’s in your prayers and know that I will keep you in mine as well.

Wishing you all the blessings and promises of the Risen One, who calls us all by name into abundance and divine purpose.

The Rev. Terry Hofmann

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