Our New Rector
St. Alban's Parish heartily welcomes our new rector The Rev. Dr. Deborah Meister.
At our Sunday services on September 25, we will welcome The Rev. Dr. Deborah Meister to lead us into the future God has in mind for us. We give thanks that the Holy Spirit has led us to such a gifted priest—and has led Deborah to us.
Deborah comes to us from Christ Church, New Brunswick, N.J., where she has served as rector for five years. Christ Church, with 750 members, is considered one of the top parishes in its diocese. It’s an historic parish that is highly diverse economically, racially and in the national origins of its members. Deborah has developed a strong community among the abundant variety of God’s people.
Stirring sermons and excellent music are hallmarks of this parish, as are education and outreach. She supported six choirs and a recital program much like our own. Her love of language blooms in her sermons—for which she is understandably celebrated—and illuminates a profound devotion to the Gospel of Jesus. Deborah greatly expanded Christian formation programs for children, youth and adults—skills that St. Alban’s values and seeks.
Christ Church’s food pantry is a fine example of its varied outreach ministries. Through Deborah’s work with lay leaders, the pantry has gone from feeding 100 to 3,000 people a month and expanded to include health initiatives and ESL classes. Prudent in parish finances, she also led a successful capital campaign and construction work to preserve the church’s aging structure.
Deborah previously served the 3,600-member St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Birmingham, Al., as the associate for adult formation and outreach. In both New Brunswick and Birmingham, she has held leadership roles in her community and diocese.
Deborah’s impressive academic history includes a Harvard undergraduate degree, a Master of Divinity from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, and a Ph.D. in English Literature from UCLA.
Raised in Northern Virginia in a Jewish family, Deborah is an adult convert to Christ. “I had to question everything to get where I am,” she told the vestry. She says that her journey has given her “a personal understanding of marginalization.” She has a gift for sharing her vulnerability, all the while being an inspiring leader.
The vestry was impressed to hear of her passion for “listening to other people’s lives” and joining them in their joys or suffering. Her references give her high marks for her pastoral care. We are told that she actively seeks counsel from colleagues as well as the views of her parishioners. She honors tradition but also enjoys creative change. She is known for being both energizing and comforting; courageous and thoughtful.
This is our first step in getting to know one another. We have much to learn about Deborah and she has much to learn about us. She is already studying St. Alban’s; you can read some of her fine sermons on Christ Church’s web site, www.christchurchnewbrunswick.org. The St. Alban’s site, www.stalbansdc.org, will start to add information on our new rector this week and continue over the coming two months; check back often.
Most important, as we all begin this adventure together, let us pray that our mutual ministry will grow and glorify the God who richly blesses us. And let us welcome Deborah warmly into the St. Alban’s family.