At my first Clergy Conference in the Diocese of Massachusetts’ I, for some reason, entered the evening talent show dubbed “Anglican Idol.” Oh, wait, I remember — my colleague Kate Malin who arrived from the Diocese of New York at the same time I did to serve as rector of Christ Church, Lincoln, twisted my arm. She was running the show and needed acts. I hardly qualify as an “act” but she sounded desperate.
As it turned out she ended up with 13 performers — clergy, it turns out, sign up at the last minute at the same rate as most parishioners. So there were solo singers and groups of them; actors and even a magician. I read a poem that I wrote in the 24 hours before the competition. Spoiler alert: I didn’t win. That award went to a 27-year-old priest named Adam Thomas who is a singer-songwriter. In other words, a ringer!
Here’s my poem. It may prevent me from ever participating in diocesan affairs but that’s not such a bad thing. And at this point I still seem to have a job. I wrote it as a poem to welcome myself to the Diocese of Massachusetts. For some reason no one else thought to.
Welcome to the Diocese
I come from New York like my friend Kate Malin
To this place of history, freedom, and sailin’.
I bring all sorts of preconceived notions
About Massachusetts and this state on the ocean.
It’s got Lexington, Concord, and Paul Revere
And let’s not forget Sam Adams Beer
I keep hoping to glimpse an esteemed Boston Brahmin
Instead I see Sarah Palin standing up on the Common.
There’s MIT, Harvard, and rotaries too
Fenway, the Garden, the Franklin Park Zoo
I thought this was Kennedy country, this Beantown
But as soon as I got here we elected Scott Brown.
Many churches, I’ve noticed, were built with white clapboard
There are so many Unitarians it’s almost absurd.
I’ve already heard much talk of safe church
That didn’t come up in my parochial search.
Low churchmen abound I was disappointed to see
Why, exactly, does my congregation say the Collect for Purity with me?
But it’s not about vestments or clerical clothes
When some churches are hopping and others might close.
There’s a bishop named Tom and another named Bud
A third one too, if she comes through the flood.
The bishops all love to preach and baptize
Though at one point they seemed to be dropping like flies.
The diocese has many congregations
And lots of fine clergy with priestly vocations
It’s odd being an Orioles fan in Red Sox Nation
But it was nice to see colleagues reach out to the Haitians.
Bishop Shaw keeps attendance at diocesan convention
Which leads to just a wee bit of tension.
Send a letter if you’re absent to avoid feather and tar
Which may just be better than Bishop Bud’s guitar.
Things for me are going well so far in Hingham
The choir is good, the hymns they can sing ‘em
I have a secretary, organist and sexton
But for Fresh Start do I really have to drive out to Weston?
I’m glad to be in this place known as Diomass
I hope my first impression didn’t come off as crass
Where else, besides New York, might you find Anglican Idol?
At Clergy Conference a sense of humor is vital.