St. Mary's Middlesboro, our sister parish, is celebrating their patronal festival this Sunday and also celebrating the new ministry of our recently acquired Network Deacon-in-Charge, Chris Arnold. The Eucharist begins at 11:00AM and will be followed by dinner-on-the-grounds and an afternoon of fellowship with a hymn-sing and special music presentations. If you are not able to attend, please consider sending a card or note congratulating them.
The following was written by Robert Cox of St. Mary's:
The vestry of St. Mary's Church is pleased to announce the arrival of our new minister, the Rev. Chris Arnold and his wife, Celeste Williams, to this community. Deacon Arnold's duties will begin on Sunday, August 1.
Chris Arnold was born in Newcastle, England, and moved to the USA at age 8. He grew up in the Boston area before moving to California to pursue a bachelor's degree in European History. He re-discovered his Anglican roots during a two-year stay in Cambridge, England.
Chris considered studying nursing because he knew he wanted to be in a "helping profession" before deciding on the ministry. He served as an active layperson in his local Episcopal congregation before entering seminary. "What began as a one year certificate course of study turned into a five-year stay as I earned two seminary degrees," he stated. While in seminary Chris began the ordination process.
Celeste is a teacher, having spent ten years teaching math in a Catholic high school. She met her husband when she was his adult confirmation group leader at church. They were later married in the same church, by the same minister who performed Chris's confirmation. The daughter of a military chaplain, Celeste is fond of pointing out that while her husband is the minister, she was the first Episcopalian in their family.
Both Chris and Celeste were attracted to the community of Middlesboro and the parish of St. Mary's for several reasons. They enjoy the proximity to the national park, the friendly and supportive small-town atmosphere, and the opportunity to begin a new career in a new place.
What are their plans? Chris hopes to focus on stabilizing and supporting the faith community at St. Mary's. "Growth is good," he said, "but supporting the many excellent programs already in place at St. Mary's is important also." Currently a deacon in the church, Chris will be ordained to the priesthood in mid-December.
Celeste is currently job seeking. She hopes to put her considerable skills in the education field to work locally as she supports Chris's ministry, both as his wife and as a member of this parish.
This year's annual Feast of St. Mary seems to be the perfect opportunity to welcome Chris and Celeste to our community. Following the 11 a.m. service on Sunday, August 15, there will be a potluck meal followed by music and games on the grounds of the church. A hymn sing and other special music are planned for later in the afternoon, and church tours will be given.
Everyone is invited to meet Chris and Celeste at St. Mary's on the afternoon of Aug. 15. "I am eager to meet the community and the communicants of this parish, current and past," Chris stated .