Parish Installs New Vicar, Charts Future

Parish Installs New Vicar, Charts Future

by Christ the King, Quincy

“Good things come in three’s,” the Rev. John Harris shared with Christ the King Episcopal Church on Thursday, December 12th as the Rev. Matthew Warren was formally installed as Vicar. “In the past year, this parish has celebrated an ordination, the retirement of your mortgage debt, and now, you welcome a new Vicar,” Fr. Harris said as he opened his remarks.

While Fr. Warren has been serving as Vicar of Christ the King Episcopal Church in Quincy since his ordination to the Priesthood in May, the installation service serves as a formal inauguration for a clergy person in a congregation.

The service, which was presided over by the Right Rev. Barry Beisner, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, has three traditional components. The first is a sermon typically preached by a friend of the newly installed minister. The Rev. John Harris, who is an Episcopal Priest and practicing lawyer from Gridley, California, was invited by Fr. Warren to preach due to his special connection with the parish. “For years, John has been a part of our parish, visiting us while staying at his family’s cabin at Bucks Lake,” Warren explained. “John was always encouraging me through the sometimes daunting process of moving through the ordination process. He never forgot to check-up on how I was doing—sometimes it is the small but repeated acts of kindness like that which means more than any grand gesture.”

In his sermon, Fr. Harris preached about the relationship between the congregation and their priest. “It is not Matt’s job to play First Violin,” Harris instructed. “It is you, the people of this congregation, who will play the symphony of this Church. Each of you has a gift to offer the church: your experience, your talents, your faith. Matt’s job is to conduct. To help you realize how your gifts can be used to benefit the Church and the world.”

The language of offering gifts was fitting, as the presentation of gifts was the dominate theme of the evening. After the sermon, it was in the presentation of gifts which represent the installation of the new priest.

“At the heart of the service, it is the presentation of gifts which symbolizes all of the responsibilities which a new priest has to his parish and the surrounding community,” Warren explained. Members of the parish presented a number of gifts, each with their own meaning and importance. “I received a Bible first, as my primary job is to always share the Good News. I was also given water to help me baptize, prayer books to keep me mindful, even a key to the parish, with the reminder that our building is to be a house of God open to all people.” The service concluded with Holy Communion, which was celebrated by Bishop Beisner.

During the service, an offering was collected to help equip the parish for their new partnership in ministry between Fr. Warren and the congregation of Christ the King. Over $1,200 was raised during the service, funds which will be directed towards the renovation of a new family ministry space.

“We know that families are the lynchpin of growth. We have already received $10,000 in grants to renovate and construct a Sunday School. Our parish leadership has begun the process of hiring a Sunday School teacher so that families can attend church without worrying if their little one will be a distraction to other church go-ers,” said Warren. “We want to make Church as easy-going as possible. Parents have enough stress in their lives. Many of them want to come to church to tap into a sense of calm and peacefulness, but many of them don’t come simply because they are worried that their little ones might fuss in church. We want to provide a place where children can learn that God loves them, and where families can have a moment of peace in an otherwise busy and frenetic life.”

“I think Fr. Matt is Quincy’s best kept secret,” said one parishioner. “Once people see what he is doing here in our church, people will be knocking down our door!”

Of course, Fr. Matt was quick to appeal to Fr. Harris’ sermon. "It is our people which make our congregation so special. I think the community has really responded to our outreach on behalf of children. ‘No forgotten angels,’ our pledge to adopt any unclaimed angels in the Angel Tree project was a parishioner’s idea—not mine."

“I think our parish has a great future ahead of it. Not because I’m leading it, but because I’m following the direction of some wonderful people whose love of God will truly be transformational to our parish and our community.”

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