Calling The 42nd Full Time Priest To
Mike Davis: “I am excited and proud to be introducing you to the next Priest at St. Stephen’s – the Reverend Paul V. Olsson. I’m excited because I really like Paul, and like what I see for our future with him leading us, and because the MDT and the Vestry would echo this sentiment. I’m proud because all of us – MDT and Vestry, but also all of you patiently waiting for the process to work – have done our jobs well in the face of significant stress from the pandemic, as well as the ever present stress of expectations, of personal lives to be lived, and of a not always efficient process for getting to this point.
Keep in mind, from now on, that this process was different from the usual for a couple of reasons, chief among them being our desire for a ‘Mutual Ministry partner’, which we felt was best expressed as Priest-in-Partnership – now officially Priest-in-Charge. Paul has embraced this role and all that it implies, and is equally excited to get started with us. What I’ve told the Vestry – more than once – I now say to you: we all have an obligation to insure that this unique approach to shared ministry is realized. And so we seek a shared ministry that includes us all – no exceptions.
It is certainly unplanned, but entirely fitting, that Pauls’ tenure here will likely begin just before the beginning of the Christian year – Advent. It is likely, that is, that his first Sunday leading our services will be either November 22 or 29. I can’t wait. In the interim, Paul will be bringing a 17 year tenure at his New Jersey parish to a close, and making plans to be with us here in Addison County, Vermont. I ask your prayers for him, for the people of St. Paul’s, Morris Plains, NJ., and all who are linked with this significant change. God bless us all.”
Gracious God, with joyful anticipation, we give thanks for the calling of Paul Olsson to serve as our new priest. May his appointment to this position be for him and for us a blessing. May we grow together in our understanding of mutual ministry, evermore seeking to fulfill Jesus’ commandment to love one another as he loves us and to demonstrate that love to our community and a world so desperate to hear good news.
As our prayers for him and his prayers for us rise to You in the days to come, open our hearts and minds to receive one another with hope and goodwill. Prepare us for the tasks You set before us.
In coming to the conclusion of the calling and appointment of a new priest for Saint Stephen’s, we give thanks for the Holy Spirit’s moving among us, inspiring our Vestry and Ministry Discernment Team in their deliberations. Grant them a sense of fulfillment in their work.
We also give thanks for the leadership shown by our wardens Mary, Mike, and Tom, Shannon our bishop, and Canon to the Ordinary Lynn Bates. Grant that their work together in ministry discernment for Saint Stephen’s might be the foundation for greater work to come.
And we give thanks for the Interim Ministry Team—Carole, Diane, Catherine, and Larry—who have proclaimed the gospel and administered the sacraments with love and faithfulness, helping us to see our past with greater clarity and to acknowledge with hope and determination who we are called to be. For all that is to come, grant us wisdom, grant us courage, serving You, whom we adore. In the name of Jesus. AMEN.
More about Father Paul
Father Paul was born and raised in South Jersey. College took him to Baltimore, and an early interest in East Asian and international relations drew him to New York for graduate study at Columbia University. Following a career in university administratration at Columbia and NYU, Fr. Paul pursued his true calling to ordained ministry and attended The General Theological Seminary. Ordained in 1999, he went on to serve as Assistant at Christ & St. Stephen’s Church on the Upper West Side where he worked to develop the parish’s ministry with children and families. In 2003 he was called to St. Paul’s in Morris Plains New Jersey. He has served there for 17 years. When you meet Fr. Paul, you immediately know that he loves being a priest. Fr. Paul, though grounded in Anglican tradition, is keenly aware of the need for the church to address the many challenges of the changing times in which we live.