I asked some members of the Search Committee and Vestry and two priest friends who have encountered Simon to describe your new rector and then I pulled pictures off the internet so here you go!
From Search Committee member:
First AHA moment: I initially got to know Simon through his responses to the Diocese application. Clear from the beginning that Simon has a deep faith, sound theological grounding and keen intellect. But what really caught me was his passion for sussing out our christian call to be a church “in the world’. What does that mean for us in a changing downtown Atlanta neighborhood and frankly in a pretty scary global community. I was intrigued by his church’s community outreach to the beach community their around their property and the growing hispanic population in San Diego. Was clear to me that while Simon is grounded in tradition, liturgy and Episcopal worship, he can comfortably stretch himself to boldly follow the Cross out into world and meet folks where there are outside the four walls of his parish.
Second AHA moment: I had the privilege of visiting Simon’s parish for Sunday service. St. Andrews By the Sea is not by any means a “resource” parish. They operate on a very lean budget. HOWEVER, you never got a sense of scarcity in the parish. The Word coming from that community is abundant life. Joyful hospitality for all who entered the doors, including the homeless population that lives around their block. It was as warm, welcoming and authentic an experience as I have had in a long time in a church pew. The tone of course was set by Simon and his staff. I have to say I came away feeling very sure that the Holy Spirit was alive, well and doing good work at St. Andrews By the Sea.
Third AHA moment: As part of our parish visit, we would ask the candidate and his wife to pick a restaurant for us to have dinner together as a group. Simon and Monica insisted that we join them and their children for dinner in the rectory. After a few weeks on the road doing these kinds of visits, a home cooked meal and a relaxed casual evening around a family dinner table was a welcome respite. Such easy hospitality … They had me at hello!
And this from a priest colleague:
Gentle and kind, deep and good.
And this from a Vestry member:
Simon has a sparkling intellect, an insuppressible but gentle sense of humor and a passion for Christ. He has a special way of connecting with people. I can’t wait for the people of All Saints’ to join in the fun.
Simon is a fit but relatively unimposing man. During the worship portion of his interview with the vestry, he delivered a brilliant, humorous and inspiring sermon. Then, during Eucharist, he bowled us over by chanting the Great Thanksgiving beautifully. It was clear by this point that we were dealing with a heavyweight.
He is so easy to be around and just exudes happiness and fun. Simon is extremely talented, doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously and is up for the challenge of All Saints’ and the block. They both seem to enjoy life and adore their children and each other. We are going to have fun with them.
With Simon as our leader, people near and far will know that All Saints’, Atlanta is open for business. He will invite the world into the church and help lead the church into the world.
Monica has an inquiring mind, a warm heart and a charming presence about her. Gracious rector’s spouse, priest in her own right, and mother of three–look out. This is going to be exciting!
Simon is a warm, real, smart, and passionate Christian. The love felt within his immediate family (with his wife Monica and their three children) was palpable; and he also spreads that love wherever he goes. Every person we interviewed was so positive about how he handles every aspect of life as a rector. Seeing how he has positively impacted lives through his vision and his pastoral care was impressive. The tears of sadness which will pour out from San Diego as he leaves will surely lead to tears of joy for us lucky ones at All Saints’.
And dear ones, the rest will unfold!