The Rev. Lisa Smith Fry called to be 17th Rector of St. Thomas’ Church

March 31, 2017

Dear People of St. Thomas’,

I am honored and humbled to be called to serve as the Rector of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Camden. I wish to extend heartfelt gratitude and thanksgiving to both the Search Committee and Vestry for their strong leadership, thoughtful questions, consideration, and gracious hospitality through the entire process of mutual discernment.

When you stated in your profile that you “want to extend our welcome and support the larger community”, I knew I was hooked. Community focus – both inward to St. Thomas’ and outward to the mid-coastal area–will serve you well in this new and challenging time that all churches are facing. You’ve already made a great start with your Quiet Days and Noon Music in Lent series. I am particularly impressed with your open-door policy which allows all seekers to be able to sit, pray, meditate, wonder and dream about what God is calling us to be. These are exciting days for us all, days that I hope will stretch into years of prayer, shared lives and new challenges as we journey together where the Spirit leads us.

To give you a little of my background: before being called as your Rector I served as Associate Rector at St. Mark’s, a large church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Before St. Mark’s I served churches in Arizona, and worked as a youth director in Sarasota, Florida. I earned degrees from Colby College and Virginia Theological Seminary, but in my salad days I worked as an actor on stage, in film, and doing voiceover work, both in Maine and in New York City. My daughter is finishing her master’s degree in Tempe, Arizona. I enjoy antiquing, hiking and I’m a huge sci-fi fan.

Though I grew up in the Topsham/Brunswick area, I have already fallen in love with Camden, and am excited to become part of St. Thomas’. My first day in the office will be June 15, and my first Sunday with you will be June 18- my birthday!   I look forward to getting to know each one of you over the coming weeks and months. I ask that you be patient with me while I learn your names and stories. As for me, I prefer to be addressed as Lisa but if you like a little more formality, I also answer to Mother Lisa!

In the interest of transparency, I would like you to know that I am separated and will soon be divorced. Three years ago my husband and I had some complex issues arise in our marriage that resulted in us navigating some rough and unexpected waters. I learned things about my spouse and myself that were painful and resulted in the end of our marriage. And like all painful experiences, I learned a lot about what was important to me.

It’s sometimes easier to prefer the known to the unknown, to choose security over freedom—to relate more easily to what is, rather than step out into what can be. But like Jesus encouraged Peter to step from the boat onto the sea, Christ often encourages us to step out boldly—though it looks like we’re not on solid ground—trusting in that love that makes anything possible. I found tremendous strength in the support and prayers of my family and my parish, and with God’s grace, I am healing and moving forward.

I will continue to pray for the community of St. Thomas’ over the coming weeks. I ask that you keep me in yours as I work through the details of my upcoming move and prepare to join you in our mutual ministry. I am passionate about the Christian journey—it’s opportunities and its challenges. I look forward to being with you as we discern the future of St. Thomas’, and how we might do ministry together.

God’s blessings,