Living Church Foundation Elects New Leaders

The Living Church Foundation elected four new members at its October 23-24 meeting at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria. Episcopal priests Kristine Blaess, Marguerite Steadman, and Kino Vitet and Bishop Joseph Wandera of Mumias, Kenya, were elected to three year terms on the body, which publishes The Living Church magazine and the Covenant weblog. The foundation also began a year-long process of strategic planning, which will be led by the Rev. Dr. Walter Prehn, a member of the board.

Dr. Ian Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary and a member of the foundation, served as host for the gathering. “The Living Church is the preeminent source for theological reflection and news in the Episcopal Church,” he said. “Virginia Theological Seminary is pleased to work closely with The Living Church to provide deep and thoughtful reflection for the lay and the ordained. Their hope for a Church that continues to connect the theological dots is important; we need to be always theologically serious in our work.”

The Rev. Dr. Kristine Blaess recently became the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Murfreesboro, Tenn., following several years of ministry as senior associate rector of St. George’s Church in Nashville. Her doctoral research focused on Christian formation, specifically on training Christian leaders as theologians of the cross effective in leading profound change, and much of her ministry has centered on developing new models for lay discipleship training.

The Rev. Marguerite (Rita) Steadman has been rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bangor, Maine, for ten years. A graduate of General Seminary, she was the first candidate for ordained ministry sponsored by the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York City. Prior to beginning her ministerial studies, Steadman was sponsored by the Joint Working Committee of the Episcopal and Russian Orthodox Churches to live and work in Russian Orthodox parishes in Russia immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. While there, she supported the development of parish outreach, which had been previously illegal, including starting Moscow’s first volunteer-supported soup kitchen.

The Rev. Kino Vitet is a native of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, and grew up there and in Brooklyn, where he now serves as rector of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Crown Heights, the largest parish in the Diocese of Long Island. He trained for the ministry at Yale Divinity School, and was ordained by Bishop William Love in 2011 and 2012. Vitet also holds advanced degrees in civil engineering and economics and worked for many years for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in economics, infrastructure, and planning.

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Wandera serves as Bishop of Mumias in Western Kenya. Prior to his election as Bishop, he taught doctrine and mission at Saint Paul’s University in Limuru, a major theological center in East Africa.  He also co-founded and coordinated the Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations in Eastleigh, Kenya, and has participated in projects sponsored by Theological Education in the Anglican Communion.

Current Foundation members Heather Cross, the Rev. Dr. D. Stuart Dunnan, Carrie Boren Headington, Dr. Elisabeth Kincaid, the Rev. Dr. Matthew S.C. Olver, David Pitts, the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson and Dr. Christopher Wells were elected to additional three-year terms, and Marie Howard, the Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins and Dr. Grace Sears were reelected to the board.

Over the next year, the Living Church Foundation will be undertaking an extensive strategic planning process, probably the first in its 141 year history, and building on ten years of significant program expansion. The process aims to closely evaluate the various aspects of its current work–The Living Church magazine, Covenant, The Episcopal Musicians’ Handbook, Daily Devotions, the Anglicans Believe pamphlet series and the conferences and events conducted by the Living Church Institute.  It will also consider a variety of additional opportunities for ministry to the wider church in service of its vision “to seek and serve the Catholic and evangelical faith of the one Church, to the end of visible Christian unity throughout the world. ”

The Rt. Rev. John Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee and the chair of the Board of the Living Church Foundation, said: “This was an encouraging meeting. This is a good time for the Board and Foundation to look ahead and to think strategically about the future of TLC. TLC serves the Church as a movement of renewal, helping to build up and encourage new leaders and the Church as a whole.”


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