The Rev. Charles Henry Arthur Bauer and The Rev. Joshua Paul Stephens were ordained to the Sacred Order of Priests on Saturday, December 17, 2016 at Hickory Neck Episcopal Church in Toano, Va. The Right Reverend Herman Hollerith IV, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, presided at the ordination. The Rev. Canon Patrick Malloy, Canon for Liturgy and the Arts at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City, preached at the service.
"Charlie," as his new congregation calls him, began serving a three-year term as curate at Hickory Neck in July of this year. On August 1, Josh began serving at Bruton Parish Episcopal Church as the Associate Rector of Family Ministries. Charlie and Josh actually met for the first time over four years ago when both were serving on a commission for young adults' ministry in the Diocese of Southern Virginia. They were also both applying for ordination.
Charlie graduated in 2008 from the College of William and Mary with a degree in medieval music theory. While in college, he was active in Canterbury, the Episcopal campus ministry at William and Mary, which operates out of Bruton Parish Church. Following graduation, he grew in lay leadership as a parishioner at Bruton Parish. Even before he felt called to the priesthood, several members of Bruton recognized his gifts for pastoral service and felt that he would be moving on into ordained ministry.
Charlie did just that. He graduated in May of this year from The General Theological Seminary in New York City where he was awarded the Cromey Prize for Excellence in Liturgical Studies in his senior year. Charlie and Josh were then both ordained to the transitional diaconate on June 11, 2016 in a service held at Bruton Parish. The Rev. Jennifer Andrews-Weckerly, Rector at Hickory Neck, says that Charlie is a gifted teacher and pastor.
Charlie has written, "No one phrase or definition explains my calling. The closest I can get is this: I am called to teach and share, called to resist evil and repent, called to proclaim God's word, called to serve all people with love, called to seek justice and peace in all the world."
The Rev. Stephens says God has been nudging him towards ministry since he was a teenager in Jacksonville Beach, FL. Josh majored in Bible and Ministry at Milligan College (Johnson City, TN), where he also was an award-winning soccer player. In 2009, just after college, Josh and his new wife, Rosanna, moved to Norfolk where he began serving at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church as the Director of Youth and Children's Ministries. While in Norfolk, they would frequently come up to Williamsburg to mountain bike and get away.
Whereas Charlie headed to the big city for residential seminary, in 2013 Josh and his wife moved from Norfolk to the beautiful Tennessee countryside so Josh could study at The School of Theology at The University of the South in Sewanee, TN. In between mountain bike rides and whitewater kayaking trips, Josh managed to study too: he was awarded the Freeman Award for Academic Merit during his second year.
Now both Charlie and Josh feel privileged to be serving such wonderful congregations in Williamsburg. Both of them say they are learning a ton each day and thrilled to be living their calling.
"When we first met several years ago, we never would have imagined that our lives would end up being so intertwined," Josh says smiling. "The diocese confirmed our callings to ordained ministry and then we went to seminaries a thousand miles apart, only to wind up in the same town, sharing two ordination services, and as colleagues and friends."
Charlie feels it has worked out beautifully, though he is not surprised: "God has a way of bringing people together for the good of the Body of Christ." He then says, "But now the ordination is over, and the service begins."
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