Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tentmakers in the 21st Century......Meditation Corner

Tentmakers in the 21st Century

by The Reverend Canon John W. Kilgore, M.D. 

First published in the April 3, 2016 edition of The Living Church ( Thank you to the The Living Church for giving the Trinity Times permission to republish.

At 6:30 a.m. I walk into the changing room, dressed in special clothes for the occasion, all the same color: black. There is a collar around my neck: white. I place the amice on my head, wrap my outer clothes with a white alb, undergarments essentially, and cincture. I kiss the stole, and then drape it over my neck. I don the chasuble covering front and back, all one piece. We, the team, say our special recitation: “Be present, be present, O Jesus, our great high priest, as you were present with your disciples in the breaking of the bread.” I approach the table, where my hands are washed and held high in orans posture, elbows down hands up and out. I approach the table, body to be broken with a fracture and blood to flow. And healing begins.  

At 8:45 a.m. I walk into the changing room, dressed in special clothes for the occasion, all the same color: green. I place a lead collar around my neck to cover the thyroid gland, and don a lead apron, all one piece, no breaks to let x-rays penetrate to my organs. I enter the room, “the lab,” where we the team do our special recitation: patient name confirmed, consent obtained, correct procedure and op site, type of anesthesia, all the checklist items to ascertain that everything is in order and it is safe to begin.  Then I cover my head and mouth, and walk to the sink to wash my hands with special water, purified. I approach the table with my arms in the air, elbows together and down, hands apart, pointed up, and slightly apart at angle to keep the clean up and the less clean running down. I am then clothed with another special garment, all of one piece, that envelops me front and back, and sterile gloves. I approach the table, break the body with a scalpel, and blood flows. And healing begins.

People ask, “How can you be both cardiac surgeon and priest?”

“Both are callings, both, when very well done, are quite similar,” I reply. “I couldn’t do anything else.”

After 20 years working on hearts, I had no idea of the similarities, of the “allusions,”of the parallel manual acts, until I was at the altar saying Mass, then sprinting to the hospital to perform a cardiac catheterization or to implant a
cardiac pacemaker. And one day, I realized I had just performed the same ritual twice in two different settings, in sequence. And they were both profound.
The effect of both was equal.  Both require education, training, skill, and calling. Both help God’s people in times of great need.

When Bishop Hays Rockwell granted me postulancy in 1999, he told me that medicine was a calling, a skill, godly, and a talent not to be discarded.  He told me I was to begin theological studies to be a priest.

“But how will I do both?” I asked.

“I don’t know, but you will find a way,” he said with an affirming twinkle in his eye.

The studies were a whole new form of education. Philosophy and theology and history and liturgics were so different from chemistry and physics and anatomy and physiology.  It required remedial work for a scientist to put substance behind terms such as Socratic, epistemology, the economy of salvation.

But as the two vocations blended day by day, and as my medical practice grew rather than diminished (“I want my father/mother/brother to be consulted by you because you are a
priest,” I heard more than once from hospital staff), the similarities became clearer.

Meeting people at fragile, vulnerable, and tender times in their lives is indeed holy work, whether at the operating table or at the altar. Listening to fears before surgery and hearing
confessions are both meeting people when they are most in need of God, most considering their need of God and of each other, most vulnerable and able to receive God’s healing.  The conversations with God’s people at tender times are blessedly analogous: holding a hand, staring deeply into the eyes of one facing a life juncture.

It is a privilege to be allowed into such sacred spaces in the lives of God’s children. I have thanked God daily for this privilege in the years since I have been ordained. Now, as the medical work winds down after three decades and the priestly work accelerates, I pause to consider how truly seamless these two vocations are, and how seamless all of our vocations
are in the light of our Christian calling.

We are all called to our tasks of daily work. We are all called to holy tasks. For some of us, our vocations are separated. For some of us, our vocations are blended. Sometimes one vocation supports the ability to do the other. Paul of Tarsus worked as a tentmaker to support himself in his ministry of evangelization around the Mediterranean basin. Worldly work and ministry need not be separated.  We are all called to godly work, to caring for God’s children.

In this post-Christian age the world is changing and fewer parishes are able to support a full-time priest.  More tentmakers are emerging. Almost every month I hear of another
priest/physician in the Church, Episcopal and otherwise. I hear of a lawyer, an oceanographer, an engineer, or other professional who is also a priest. It seems time for the
Church, for the Episcopal Church especially, to take another look at tentmakers and how their ministry may augment our call to care for God’s children in need. New ways of delivering ministry for struggling parishes might become apparent, and effective use of diverse talents might result.  It seems time for all Christians to consider how our vocations can support our call to serve in the world.  They are not really separated. After all, as Teilhard de Chardin said, “We are not human beings undergoing a spiritual experience, but rather spiritual beings undergoing a human experience.”  And we are not, I submit, workers in the world engaging in Christian enterprise, but rather Christians engaging in work in the

What are the similarities in your vocation and your Christian enterprise?  How do they blur and intersect?  And how are they on a spectrum and interwoven? If God is in everything, and we are in the image of God, aren’t our vocations and our discipleship one and the same? How do we live into that most fully and live our lives at the Table, not only tentmakers but all of us? And what might that mean for the mission of the Church?

The Rev. John Kilgore has served a
bivocational ministry in a Roman
Catholic health-care system as an
invasive cardiologist and as a nonstipendiary
canon at Christ Church
Cathedral, both in St. Louis.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Jenks Remembers: The First Half: 1973-1994

The First Half:  1973-1994

During Jenks’ first 20+ years at Trinity, Sunday church attendance rose from about 35 to over 110.  In retrospect, Jenks thinks that all of the significant events in those two decades relate to this growth in attendance and the resulting evolution of the structures and processes of Trinity.

In April 1979, Jenks remembers that Trinity went through a crisis.  Attendance was down, the budget was severely in deficit, the vestry was often at odds with Jenks, and the church began to think it might close its doors.  Jenks was not thinking of going elsewhere, but he did realize that, at six years, his tenure was already longer than almost all recent rectors of Trinity.  Jenks says that he came to Trinity a young minister at his first church, full of his own ideas, and into a church that was family size (less than 50) where everyone knew each other and most grew up with one another.  

Trinity engaged a consultant, Bernie Johnson, from our diocesan staff, to guide the church through a painful but productive planning process.  Jenks said that he learned to listen to and really hear what the vestry had to say to him; and the vestry learned that adding to the congregation many new people that they did not know required rethinking almost everything about the church.  Through a rigorous process in the summer and fall of 1979, Trinity began to grow the vestry, adopted specific goals for the church, and expanded the organizational structure and processes, thereby involving more people in church leadership.  

Jenks recalls that from April 1979 to December 1979, attendance grew from about 30 into the 50s, and the church ended the year with a surplus of $5000, not with closed doors as had been feared! Years later, he read materials that told him that the church had grown from a Family Chapel to the beginnings of a Pastoral Church.  In a family church, says Arlin Rothaugh in Sizing Up a Congregation (I borrowed a copy from Jenks), “well established patriarchs and matriarchs” guide the church as an extended family, with the priest serving as family chaplain, but not as “the primal father.”  As the church grows into a pastoral church, leadership shifts to the minister, who is at the center of almost all activities.  Jenks thinks that "the rise in attendance, income, and activity resulted from embracing together the reality of a pastoral sized church having passed the limits of what a family chapel size could do.”  He reflects that “from a somewhat negative and fearful attitude resisting change in early 1979, we managed to evolve into a congregation which welcomed everybody’s gifts and was excited about moving forward together.”

Based on the new structures and processes and the “education” of Jenks and the vestry, in the 1980s and beyond, Trinity grew in its programs, services, and lay leadership out of a self-conscious sense of what Trinity was and what it wanted to be.  Sunday School grew as the number of children increased. Lynne Baines was an early Sunday School Superintendant; Lucy Oliver and others followed. The Wednesday morning Bible Study began by reviewing the readings for the coming Sunday. Then in 1986 they began at Genesis 1:1 and read straight through for 16.5 years. (they then began again 12 years ago this month). Jenks has always led this, but in the very collaborative style that he seeks to apply in many aspects of leadership at Trinity. Trinity’s involvement in Curcillo aided in raising up lay leadership and involvement.  Later in the decade and into the 1990s, lay readers, lay litanists, and lay eucharistic ministers grew in participation in services and church work.  Jenks recalls one parishioner quipping, “If we keep this up, Jenks won’t have anything to do.”  This growth and expansion of programs and lay involvement was integral to the influx of “boomers” and their children.  

By the 1980s, it was obvious to many members that the church needed to expand physically, as well as programmatically.  A first step was taken in 1985 when twenty feet was added to the Parish Hall.  This created the Bromfield Room and space in the basement for the rector’s office and parish office, which had been located in the rectory.  But, this was only the beginning.

With 110 in regular attendance on Sundays and growing, many began to think that the sanctuary was too small and that the lot was too small to facilitate any further expansion.  A long study process in the early 1990s recommended that Trinity move its building to the edge of town and build a new parish hall.  Jenks says this was a very difficult time in the church as the move was not popular. It was a time of acrimony and angry voices filled many open meetings, with Jenks and the Senior Warden taking much of the heat.  It became clear that the church wasn’t going to move because such a decision would have divided the congregation.  No architectural plan that was explored for expanding the sanctuary proved feasible or affordable on the existing site.  So, another solution to growth emerged in 1994----the 9:15 family service.

In a growing church, increasingly filled with newcomers from elsewhere, ideas for changes in the worship service were bounced around. In the early '90's Trinity decided to experiment at the 11:00 service once a month with a differently styled "family service."  When Jenks was on his first sabbatical in 1994, he explored alternative worship styles in various churches.  In December 1994, Trinity the separate 9:15 service was born.  It was a short 45 minutes, more informal, filled with upbeat hymns that young children did not have to read, and included the now famous Question Box.  Charlotte Nichols first played the organ for the service, as well as led the choir for the 11am service.  But, soon Lorraine Duisit joined the service with her children and volunteered to play the guitar.

So, besides providing alternative services for the increasingly diverse congregation, the 9:15 service provided an imaginative way to expand worship space as the numbers continued to grow in the later 1990s to around 130 average Sunday attendance.  Without knowing it, Trinity had grown toward the upper edge of the Pastoral sized church.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Jenks Remembers:
The Jenks and Todd Show

Rappahannock County, Trinity Church, and Jenks in 1973
By Todd Endo

Jenks preached his first sermon at Trinity Church on July 1st in1973.  That was a long time ago.  Jenks has changed since then.  Trinity Church has changed as well.  The town of Washington has changed.  Rappahannock County has changed.  What were all of these like in 1973?  Jenks remembers....

When Jenks arrived in 1973, the 211 bypass had just been completed.  Prior to that, 211 came up Middle Street, entered a sweeping curve at the intersection with Main Street with a blinking red light warning signal, and continued out of town on Main Street.  He remembers folks telling him that before the bypass there was a lot more street noise, especially caused by traffic and even buses on Middle and Main Streets, many bringing skiers to the nearby ski slope in Harris Hollow.

Merrill Ford and Esso, once one of the oldest Ford dealerships in the country, occupied what is now the Post Office and the Country Cafe. Its showroom windows are now those of the Country Cafe.  Merrill Ford began on the site now occupied by the Inn.  After Merrill moved, what were to become the Inn buildings became an antique shop. In 1978, The Inn began as a small restaurant and grew into it present mega status. Jenks say that “despite occasional ruffled feathers over parking issues, they have been good neighbors on many counts and continue to pay their monthly parking rent right on time.”

Clopton House, Jenks recalls, was a private low income apartment building with five units. The church parking lot was part old concrete floor, part potholed gravel, purchased about 1962 and cleared of buildings at that time. The church bought the Quiet Place prior to Jenks' arrival and tore down the buildings on it, which had been in disrepair and “were rumored to house ladies 'of ill repute.'” Trinity House was owned by Reed Payne and then later by Roger Batchelder. Mountainside Market, later moved to Sperryville, began there. In 1999, Trinity bought it and renovated it to its current uses. The Rappahannock Medical Center was built about 1974.

In 1973, the population of Rappahannock was at its lowest ebb in the 20th century—about 5200 people by the 1970 census. The general layout of the town of Washington was about the same as now, but there were more empty and run-down buildings.  He remembers more drinking and driving, racing through the town at night.  There were more children living in town then. He vividly recalls stories about the town telephone operators, Alice Verner and her daughters, prior to automatic dialing. “The daughters had made the switchboard the proverbial gossip center and source of much useful information, such as which young lady already had a date, so no use to call!”

The current physical Trinity Church remains pretty much as it was in 1973. Built in 1857 with the bell tower/vestibule added about 1900, all of it was stuccoed in the 20's. The Parish Hall was built in 1957 and was twenty feet shorter until its expansion in 1985.  The Dried Flower Sale & House Tour was begun to pay off the mortgage on the original hall. 
A dominant force in the church when Jenks arrived was Emily Miller, seemingly in charge of everything, although she held no official position in the church. She lived on the phone, she knew everything, she knew everybody. She helped Jenks begin his process of understanding who was here, who was who, and who was kin to whom. He had a standing invitation to have lunch with her, and went once or twice a week so that she could tell him what he needed to know about who was in the hospital and such.

When Jenks arrived in 1973, Trinity had one service on Sunday, attended by an average of about 35 worshippers.  Most of them, Jenks quipped were either named Miller or kin to them. Low church Virginia Morning Prayer was the dominant liturgy, with communion once a month.  The 8:00 communion service began in 1974, as soon as Jenks was ordained priest. He recalls that the service rarely had more than five worshippers in the 1970s, often none. Many of these were weekenders. Jenks remembers that the growth of families with children began shortly before he arrived and continued during his early years at Trinity. The 9:15 service was added in 1994 to accommodate that continued growth. Along the way the liturgical practice of Trinity has evolved into a rich variety of expression.

Jenks says that his path to Trinity was pretty direct, although not foreordained.  He tells some of this story in his “From the Rector’s Desk” column in this issue of the Trinity Times.  I will conclude this segment with Jenks’ decision to choose Trinity Rappahannock over Trinity Arlington where he had done his seminary internship.  Jenks says that he “was proudly country and ready to return after 11 years of educational time in the city. This Trinity was a clear choice!”  We are happy that he did!
Photographs from Rosettenville

Altar Area before Service

The Reverend Rod Greville and his wife, Beta Ann

Exterior, St. Mary's, Rossettenville

Before the Early Service

Interior View before a Service

The Reverend Rod Greville before a baptism

Stained Glass Window

Stained Glass Window

Haiti Update
By Russ Collins

Mission Trip Feb 21st to Feb 25th, 2015
I’ve scheduled a 5-day trip to St. Marc, Trouin in February.  The intent is threefold: checkup on activities at the St. Marc Schools; introduce new missioners to our work in Haiti; and review progress on a Goat Program, which Trinity initiated in October.  We will leave early Saturday so as to arrive in Trouin late that afternoon, attend church on Sunday with some time to relax, observe school activities on Monday and Tuesday and travel home on Wednesday.   I want to organize our team early in December, so please contact me soonest if interested (

Recent Visit to St. Marc, Trouin
Mary Frances leMat and Peggy Spillenkothen made a brief visit to Trouin late in October to follow-up on construction accomplished under the Mustard Seed Grant from our Diocese, observe activities at the school, and continue our relationship with our friends in Haiti.  They were warmly received, as always.   Please ask them to share their impressions when you see them.

Trinity Goat Program for Trouin
Thanks to special contributions from several of our members, we matched resources provided by Voix et Actions to begin a goat program in the Trouin area.   The program will improve goat care and breeding and ultimately donate goats to 110 families. The goats will improve the economic situation of over 500 people who now live in poverty.   Viox et Actions is a Haitian organization affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti which manages our micro-loan and student loan programs in Trouin.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Jenks Remembers

Jenks Remembers

By Todd Endo

This is the first article in a series in Trinity Times based on interviews with Jenks.  In this introduction, Jenks describes his initial responses to my question about the key events and issues in his 40+ years of ministry at Trinity Episcopal Church.  We will follow with both a chronological approach and a thematic approach. For future articles, we ask for your ideas of key events and issues that you wish Jenks to address.  Send your ideas to and 

Not surprisingly, the first two key events that Jenks relates are personal ones.  Jenks first describes, in some detail, his ordination in the Trinity Church sanctuary, officiated by Bishop John Baden.  He was pleased that the Diocese chose to ordain each minister in his own church in the midst of family, friends, and parishioners.  Jenks remembers:

So many people were here, family and friends from other places. The congregation was here and it was a great celebration. I do very much remember kneeling on the chancel step with the full sense of the other priests who were there joining in the ordination and a very strong sense of the Holy Spirit pressing down on me and saying this is where you're supposed to be! And this occurred with no inkling on my part that this is where I would be for 42 years, or 41 from that point in 1974.  All has unfolded with the power of the Holy Spirit through good times and bad, through the struggles we have had and joyous celebrations. My father's sermon at my ordination was based on the parable of the talents. I hope that I have been faithful to that and the effort will continue because I will retire as rector but not as priest.

Jenks next shared other personal events as fond memories:  the birth and baptism  of his son, Jennings, in 1979 and three years later the birth of his daughter, Berkeley.  He also related the death of his father in 1991 and the following Sunday service at Trinity, at which Sean Kilpatrick gave the sermon on his father’s ministry.  In all of these, said Jenks, he felt immersed in the community of the church, which shared his joys and sorrows.

As important worship services, Jenks highlighted two that extended beyond the Trinity Church community--the traditions of the 11 o’clock Christmas Eve service and the Easter sunrise service.  He recalled that Nels Parson volunteered his land for the Easter service and talked Jenks into it in 1984.  With great peace and joy, Jenks described standing on the hill facing into the sunrise and “celebrating the moment when the women discovered that Jesus had risen.”  About both services, Jenks fondly emphasizes that people from throughout the community attend, not just regulars at Trinity Church.

Also, as part of Trinity’s fun community outreach activities, Jenks listed as two of his key events, the first chancel play by youth in the late 1980s and the ongoing tradition of Vacation Bible School.  He said that the first play was called “Psalty” and featured youth choirs from Trinity and Washington Baptist and a solo for which he was coached diligently by Dawn Fisher, youth choir leader.  About Vacation Bible School, Jenks emphasized the partnership with Washington Baptist Church (and early on, the Methodist Church) and the fact that, for many of the children, the summer week was their only exposure to church all year.  Jenks’ indelible memories of these two youth activities rest heavily on his joy of having fun with kids:  “I love having fun with the kids and that goes back to my original call to share the joy of God.”

Of course, some of the key events on Jenks’ list focus on the programs and structures of the church.  The first he emphasized was the impact of participation in Cursillo beginning in 1981.  Libby Snead, a returned Peace Corps volunteer, wanted to attend the introductory three day retreat and needed the church pastor to attend with her.  So, Jenks agreed to go.  From that start, dozens of Trinity members attended the Cursillo retreats and the follow-up small study groups.  Jenks resonated with Cursillo’s joyfulness in God:

It changed our sense of who we were and how we celebrate God and how we serve God. It had a tremendous effect on me, on Trinity, and on our life together. Cursillo gave me the blessing, if you will, an affirmation of my sense of joy in God. From my earliest time and my early sense of call as a young person, I found God to be fun and joyful.... Cursillo gave me a way to make that fit. It was joyful, it was exciting, and it was based in God.

Moreover, Jenks thinks that Cursillo profoundly and permanently changed Trinity, especially in its commitment to outreach to the local and larger community:

I think that the group reunions with the requirement of weekly talking about piety, study, and action, thinking of our relationship with God became the foundation of the great sense of outreach that this church has today. For the size of our church today we do a great deal of outreach both across the world through formal programs, and locally through the inspiration for each individual one of us to impact the community around us.

Almost twenty years later in 1999 or 2000, pushed by Holly May, Jenks introduced another study group, Education for Ministry, into the life of Trinity.  He said that he had expected, by now, to have passed the leadership of EFM on to someone else, but now will still find it very difficult to let loose of the reins.  Jenks observes that the influence of Cursillo and EFM on the church is seen in by the high proportion of Cursillo enthusiasts who became vestry members, and likewise for EFM members in the last decade.

Finally, Jenks pointed to the crisis of 1979 as a watershed year for the church and for his ministry at Trinity.  He points to this period as a difficult time for the church and for him.  The finances were in the “red,” participation in church leadership and church activities were lagging, and the structure and processes of the church were out-of-date.  Through the help of a consultant from the diocese, Trinity planned for a more dynamic life, involved more people by asking for more and getting more people to say “yes.” A most tangible result was increased church attendance, resulting in getting the church out of a deficit. Working through the crisis of 1979, Jenks ended the string of relatively short-term ministers at Trinity and embarked on his lengthy journey with Trinity Church.