by Charissa Bradstreet
Back in January, I had the opportunity to come and worship at Good Samaritan. From the time I walked through the door to the time I left I was stunned by the kindness of the greetings that I received as a visitor. I am filled with excitement as I anticipate becoming a part of the Good Samaritan community, joining you with a focus on supporting formation across all ages and nurturing your spiritual leadership skills as we all live even more deeply into our gifts!
This week I was facilitating a conversation with a group at St. Paul’s, where I currently intern, and was floored when one of the participants had a moment of insight. The gospel suddenly came alive for him and he put words to what he was beginning to think might be God’s call and promise to humanity (and to him). What he named struck him as almost too good to be true. At the end of the Zoom call I realized that my face was flushed with joy; I love it when learning ignites excitement about who God is and what God longs for us to see and know for ourselves, and when it motivates subtle but profound adjustments to the way we live together. As a faith community we get to be companions with each other on the journey, and midwives for insights that will be birthed as we tend to each other’s questions and explorations. My sense is that Good Samaritan has a healthy and vibrant foundation for living into big questions and tending to each other’s spiritual needs.
Since we can’t meet now in person, I’d love to share some things to help you get to know me. Faith was woven throughout my family’s way of engaging life. We prayed at mealtimes and at bedtime, worshipped at church every Sunday, shared openly about our day and where we saw God, and practiced hospitality by inviting people from church home for lunch. When I was five, I accepted Jesus into my heart (as a good Evangelical child does). My father ensured that my young commitment grew in knowledge, overseeing various forms of Bible study throughout my childhood. Reading books aloud created a love for narrative that now shapes how I read the Bible and preach.
In my twenties I joined a Presbyterian church that provided ample opportunities for theological study, often with seminary faculty. I started to see women in leadership – not something I had experienced before. At thirty I went to seminary – and was encouraged to deconstruct some evangelical assumptions and discover new ways of reading the Bible. I found it energizing. My theological and counseling studies provided a more generous understanding of the gospel and the human condition, and I felt a call toward ordained ministry. Although I came very close to completing requirements for ordination with the Presbyterian Church (USA), I eventually found a theological home in the Episcopal Church. I have been a member of Epiphany Parish since 2009, preaching, teaching, and helping lead pilgrimages to the Holy Land. I entered discernment for the priesthood a couple years ago and am concluding an internship at St. Paul’s where I have been facilitating adult formation, including a Sacred Ground discussion group on issues of race and faith.
I enjoy traveling, reading, painting icons, cooking, watching BBC mysteries, and writing. In 2015 I went on a group retreat in Northern Ireland to learn about the work of reconciliation in the context of the Troubles. That trip, along with my first Pilgrimage to Jerusalem, has underscored my enduring interest in the redemptive possibility of reconciliation.
I can’t wait to join you in your mission to invite all people into a life-long journey with Christ, forming them to love God and neighbor and engage the world with God’s love and grace. If you like, you are welcome to introduce yourselves by email.