Ten Years of Ministry

On Sunday, September 25th, 2016, the diocese held a celebration evensong to commemorate 10 years of ministry with the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley as Bishop of Eastern Michigan. The following are his remarks delivered at the reception.

Thirty years ago, when I first began to acknowledge the possibility that I might be experiencing a call from God to entered the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, little did I know that fifteen years later I would be called to join the staff of Ed Leidel, the first Bishop of Eastern Michigan. What I did know with the clarity that only a 25 yr-old can have is that the scripture that summed up my call was Micah 6:8:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? 

Thirty years later I am no less clear that God has presented me numerous opportunities to test this biblical clarity and to reaffirm it. I have failed often, experienced delightful moments of faithfulness and wondered about my own capacity to live into the vision of the prophet Micah.

Through five years of service on Ed Leidel’s staff and now ten years as your bishop, I have been blessed to walk alongside you as together we strive to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God. As I have pondered these past ten years as your bishop, it has become increasingly clear to me that momentum in episcope, in the ministry of oversight that a bishop shares with the laos, all the baptized people of God, is overwhelmingly a rather conservative and internally-preoccupied ministry to the people and congregations that are the diocese. It is a ministry that develops a life of its own, concerned with keeping the diocesan ship afloat and the voices of reason outnumbering the voices of fear and anxiety. All too rarely it encompasses a more expansive ministry to the world about us. This is not how it should be — the ministry of a bishop is one with balance between internal and external, conserving ministries and expansive ministries; it is a ministry of stewardship of the faith of the Church. It is certainly larger than any one person and must involve many voices, many hearts, and many hands.

The three bishops of Michigan's Lower Peninsula pose for a photo after Evensong.
The three bishops of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula pose for a photo after Evensong.

Along this journey, any bishop is accompanied by faithful visionaries and activists who alternately comfort and challenge; correct and affirm; push, pull and prod.

Tonight, while there are countless thank-yous to give, I want to name all those who have walked most closely with me on this journey — those who have served on diocesan staff — Molly Girard, Katharine Rose, Tom Downs, Elsa Pressentin, Barb Meikle, Anna Leigh Kubbe, Mike Spencer, Val Fargo, Katie Forsyth, McKenzie Bade and Angela Krueger. I couldn’t have done it without you.

I also want to announce a new diocesan award that will recognize those persons who contribute to the expansive ministry of the diocese in areas of justice, mercy, and peacemaking: The Swords into Plowshares Award

The prophet Isaiah articulated a vision of the future when he said:

In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.

Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

—Isaiah 2:2-4

For her relentless challenge to bishops, priests, deacons and all the faithful baptized; her never-ending work for peace among people; her persistent advocacy for justice for the disabled; her quiet acts of mercy; her commitment to racial reconciliation; her penetrating insights as a spiritual guide; and finally, for her embodiment of a peace which passes all understanding, marked by balancing justice and mercy, I am pleased to present the very first “Swords into Plowshares Award” to my friend and trusted colleague, the Venerable Anna Leigh Kubbe, former Archdeacon of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan.

The Ven. Anna Leigh Kubbe, recently retired archdeacon, accepts the first Swords into Plowshares Award.
The Ven. Anna Leigh Kubbe, recently retired archdeacon, accepts the first Swords into Plowshares Award.
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