Brooklyn Heights

The Rev. Anne F. Richards named as Grace Church’s interim priest

July 14, 2016 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Rev. Anne F. Richards will serve as Grace Church’s interim priest. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Anne F. Richards
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When the Rev. Anne F. Richards begins her role of Interim Priest at Grace Church Brooklyn Heights next month, it will mark a homecoming for her.

The parish is in transition following the retirement this past spring of the Rev. Stephen D. Muncie, its 14th rector. Muncie was rector from 2004 until this past April.

It was at Grace Church that Richards, as a parishioner, began her discernment process towards the priesthood about three decades ago. Guiding and encouraging her were the people of Grace Church and the (late) Rev. F. Goldthwaite Sherrill, who was rector at the time.

“Clearly, Anne’s early life at Grace was really a foundation for her going into the ministry. She had been raised Catholic,” said the parish’s junior warden, Kate Rock.

“Anne also did a lot of work at LICH [Long Island College Hospital] —in pastoral care there.”   

Kate Rock said at the time, “LICH didn’t have a Protestant priest. They had only a Catholic priest. Anne was really critical in developing the pastoral care there. Her sons went to Grace Church School, and now her grandson is going to Grace Church School. She has family in Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill.”

Richards served several parishes following her ordination. Most recently, she was the senior assistant rector at Saint Mark’s Church in New Canaan, Connecticut. Prior to that, she served at Grace Church-Manhattan and as canon for Ministry Development at the Diocese of New York.

She is married to the Rt. Rev. Richard Grein, 14th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

She will begin her position at Grace Brooklyn on Monday, Aug. 29. Her first worship service will be Sept. 4.

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Diocesan Transition Ministry Has Grown Over Past Decade

Kate Rock explained that the role of an interim priest is to provide pastoral support and administrative guidance to the church, rather than assist in the search process. The Diocese of Long Island offers strong support and a structured process for parishes in transition — where the previous priest has left and the congregation is searching for a new rector.

“Anne helps with, obviously, the pastoral needs of our community. And she helps with the administrative needs. Whatever tidying up we need to do as a church, she helps us do. It could be reviewing policies and procedures, for instance, so that when we call our new rector we are offering that rector a house in good order.”

Rock added that the diocese and Bishop Lawrence Provenzano offer much more support than was available 12 years ago. The diocesan website offers a page on Transition Ministry and a detailed Guide for Congregations in Transition. The Diocesan transitional minister, the Rev. Canon John Betit, has already met with the Grace Church leadership.

“I think at every level and I think in almost every diocese, they’ve kind of gone through and formalized these processes,” said Rock. “I have been so impressed by the collective wisdom that has been brought to bear on this transition. They understand the psychology of change. They really appreciate how helpful it is to have that guidance as we go through this.”

“We will be going through a self-study, and we will be creating a parish profile which will supplement the website, which is being re-designed this summer.” Rock pointed out that most of the process, including the development of parish profiles or brochures, is now conducted online instead of in print.

“It helps, us as a community, envision our future; and as a result, articulate the person we want to lead us to that future. So, that’s our first big task that the search committee undertakes.”

The two search committee co-chairs, Vivian Harrison and Barbara Becker, bring their many years professional expertise in marketing and human resources.

 


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