The Rev. Michele Simmons, our next assistant priest
I am excited to announce to you that I have called Michele Simmons to be my new assistant. She is a senior seminarian at Sewanee from the Diocese of Colorado. If you were paying attention to March 11’s entry in our Lent Devotion Book, you’ll have gotten a brief introduction to Michele’s theological perspective already. In early September, Derrick Hill, the rector of St. Timothy’s, recommended I talk to Michele who completed her field work at St. Timothy’s as their seminarian. Her preaching, teaching and involvement in the life of the parish were a great addition to St. Timothy’s while she was with them.
Michele and I have been in conversation since mid-January. She spent an afternoon with our staff, as well as some time with a few members of the parish. When I was able to see her interact with our staff and Good Shepherd folks, I felt that she would be a perfect fit in our parish and a wonderful addition to our staff. Moreover, I believe she will be a very good partner for me and that we can work well together.
Michele is originally from California and graduated from the University of California, Davis. She worked for over 20 years in the national park service, serving in California, Arizona, Nevada, Alaska and finally, Colorado. In her work in the national park system, she did a great deal of teaching and training of guides. I am especially excited about her work with the training of guides because I believe this will be an aide to us in developing more lay leaders within our parish.
Also, her love of nature will be a plus for activities like parish hikes, family camp and other outdoor events that she could coordinate and lead. Clearly her previous job as a park ranger reflects her love of creation and the outdoors. I am excited to see how she can use that love to help our community to grow in our love and appreciation of the outdoors and God’s creation.
On a personal level, I really love her varied experiences of all the churches she has been involved in throughout her adult life. Because she moved around in her work, she had to worship in whatever church community existed wherever she lived. And wherever she lived, she made sure to become involved in a faith community. This shows an adaptability and openness to other traditions as well as the capacity to live with those who might think differently. Furthermore, as we attract more and more people who did not grow up in the Episcopal tradition, her real life church experience should serve us, as well as our newcomers, well. She also has a quiet, peaceful presence and wisdom that will, I believe, draw y’all in.
Her gifts of preaching, teaching and her warm, friendly, approachable and wise presence will be a comfort to many that will transcend both age and gender. Finally, I am excited to have a female priest as a colleague. We have had female priests for much of our history, but not in the past 10 years. Her voice and experience will, I believe, be a great gift to us all.
You can get a taste for her sermons and preaching style on her YouTube channel. Click here to access a selection of her sermons. I think you will enjoy hearing her. She is quite a good preacher. Please feel free to drop Michele a line and welcome her to Good Shepherd. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grace and peace,