Get to Know Rev. Sarah

Get to Know Rev. Sarah

I am so excited to join the St. Peter’s community as Associate Rector!

St. Peter’s is a special place for me. Years ago, I was received into the Episcopal Church at St. Peter’s. You were also my sponsoring parish for ordination, the faith community that helped me claim and trust my vocation as a priest.

A little about me: I am a native of rural North Georgia and the oldest of four children, which means I use “y’all” and my big sister tendencies run deep. I was raised in the United Methodist Church, so I love hymn sings and rowdy sermons. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Religion and Women’s and Gender Studies from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. For seminary, I went to Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, and a few years later I completed a Diploma in Anglican Studies from the General Theological Seminary in New York City.

I am married to Roger, a fourth generation Philadelphian, and we have a wonderful and “eccentric” dog named Summah.

As a priest, I feel most drawn to empowering people to express their gifts, in church and in life. I love finding ways to reclaim the Bible with joy and integrity, especially the psalms. I am committed to dismantling white supremacy—our country’s most overlooked and excused sin.

There is no place that gives me more hope and love than church…and yet church is also where I have experienced disappointment, frustration, and despair.

From an early age, I felt a call to ministry, but a lot of people told me, quickly and definitely: girls do not grow up to be pastors. I was devastated and ashamed. However, my own pastor nurtured my sense of call. His encouragement strengthened me and changed my life, but it was not easy. I learned what it was like to be loved by church, but church is also where I learned what it was like to be rejected and mistreated.

Maybe you can relate.

So many people have been hurt by church. They have seen people spew hate in the name of Christ and wonder what makes church relevant to our lives. Part of proclaiming the Gospel is naming these tensions, flaws, and doubts – taking them seriously – while also sharing our hopes and stories of a different kind of church. For too long, church has been seen as a place where one brings their “best” (happiest, politest) self instead of their real, whole self. This is not the church people need nor the church God wants. The church God envisions is not filled with people pretending to be perfect, but with people doing our best to continue the work of Jesus Christ: gathering people to serve the dream of God for love of the world.

I stick with church because I feel closest to God when I am in community with others. I love the sacraments, mingling the holy and ordinary, just like Jesus did. I trust that if we confess the ways Christianity hurts and fails, we can change and God can redeem that pain into something good. I stick with church because, sometimes despite our best efforts, I believe God’s Spirit stirs up and rests on those who seek to drive out hate with love. If that’s what God is up to, then I want to be a part of it, helping to build the kind of church where you can grow up to be a pastor, marry who you love, be treated with justice and dignity.

St. Peter’s sustains my belief that this kind of church is possible. We are not perfect. We are complicated people with messy lives. But we seek to ground our messy lives in Christ’s presence and his call to love God and love our neighbor (and even love ourselves). We welcome, discern, pray, laugh, cry, serve, forgive, advocate, heal, gather, worship, and celebrate, and everything in-between, as we walk this journey of faith together.

Peace!
Sarah+

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