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A Good Shepherd ‘Epistle to the Romans’

A Good Shepherd ‘Epistle to the Romans’

Dear good people of Rome and friends of Saint Paul,

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!  I write to you with greetings from your brothers and sisters in The Episcopal Diocese of Texas: Good Shepherd; Good Shepherd on the Hill; and Saint Alban’s; all here in fair Austin town.  We hope this message finds you well and readying for a wonderful summer.

My name is Morgan Allen, and I serve as Rector of Good Shepherd.  Some moons ago, I attended seminary with your Rector: our mutual friend, the Rev. Austin K. Rios.  You may know that he and I have taken care to nurture our friendship and collegial bonds in the years since, sharing a weekly video conference with three other of our seminary classmates, as well as an annual time together in study and retreat.  I consider Austin among the most gifted and faithful people I know, and I have learned more from him than I could measure.

During our video conference in Holy Week, Austin mentioned Saint Paul’s need of priestly coverage during his time in the States this July and August.  In partnership with him, we have since strategized a plan that we hope we will prove cohesive and enriching for you, for us, and for the communities we serve.  Beginning Sunday, June 30, the clergy of our Texas congregations will join you in The Eternal City for Sunday worship and the weekday support of your parish and staff.

While Austin will share more of the brass tacks we have arranged – a local on-call phone, offering a single number for pastoral emergencies; plans to honor the staff’s rhythm of weekly meetings; etc. – we will live in the rectory apartment; celebrate and preach the Sunday service; and look forward to meeting you!

By way of introduction, please see below the dates that we will be with you all, as well as short biographies of each of us:

July 1 – July 13: The Rev. Morgan S. Allen

A Louisiana native and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of LSU, Morgan followed a decade of service as a lay professional in the Church with graduation from The Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, and ordination in the Diocese of Western Louisiana.  Following a curacy at Saint Matthias in Shreveport, Morgan served as Rector of Saint Barnabas in Lafayette, beginning that tenure during the summer anticipating Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  In 2009, Morgan accepted the call to serve as Rector of Good Shepherd, in Austin, Texas, one of The Episcopal Church’s twenty largest congregations.

As Morgan enters his ninth year in the parish, Good Shepherd has recently completed a $22m capital campaign, renewing and expanding their founding campus, while launching a second-campus ministry – The Hill – which includes a Sunday worshipping community, and will soon expand to offer an early-childhood center serving a range of socio-economic situations.

Morgan and his wife, Missy, have two children: a thirteen-year-old son, Michael; and a ten-year-old daughter, Mary Virginia (“Ginna”).  Morgan enjoys working on his 1968-1972 Buicks as time allows, and last year met lifelong heroes Bruce Springsteen and Duff McKagan.

July 15 – July 28: The Rev. Christine L. Mendoza

Raised in Chapel Hill, Christine earned her bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina.  Before entering seminary in Austin, Christine led a successful career as a business analyst consultant and project manager in software development.

During seminary, Christine served as an intern at Good Shepherd, and, upon graduation, joined the parish as a deacon and a priest.  Entering her fifth year in the parish, she currently serves as the Priest for Liturgy, and is responsible for all the congregation’s many worship and music ministries.

Christine shares her life with her husband, Jonathan, a technical writer and soccer enthusiast; and their daughter, Emma, a musician and artist who will start high school in the fall.

July 29 – August 10: The Rev. Shannon E. Preston

Born in Missouri and raised in Minnesota, Shannon graduated from the College of Saint Benedict, in Saint Joseph, Minnesota.  Since that time, Benedictines have been important to her spiritual identity and helped direct her toward seminary.

After her graduation from Virginia Theological Seminary and her ordination to the priesthood, Shannon lived for one year as a member of the inaugural Community of Saint Anselm, a neo-monastic religious community for young adults, housed at Lambeth Palace in London.  Following that Canterbury experience, Shannon last summer accepted the call to serve as the Priest for Spiritual Formation at Good Shepherd.

In Shannon’s spare time, she likes to walk, to bake, and to play soccer, and she is currently learning ballet.

August 11 – August 21: The Rev. Erin Hensley

A native of Jackson, Tennessee, Erin graduated from Guilford College in 1999, and from Virginia Theological Seminary in 2007.  Following ordination, Erin served as the Assistant to the Rector at St. Alban’s Parish in Washington, DC, before a vital, seven-year tenure as an Associate at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, in Roanoke, Virginia.

In 2015, Erin accepted the call to serve as the sixth Rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Austin, TX, where she loves being God’s storyteller, sacrament bearer, and pastor to and equipper of saints (all the baptized) for ministry. She has a passion for authentic Christian community that looks inward and outward, mirroring the very life of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Erin’s gifted husband, Sam, serves as the Director of Music & Mission at The Hill, the second campus of Good Shepherd, and the couple have a son, Micah.  Together, the Hensleys enjoy spending time with friends; playing with their dog, Sprig; and listening to good music.

August 22 – September 4: The Rev. Kathy R. Pfister

Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Kathy developed a lifelong love of music and fabulous food.  She first served the Church as a lay professional in parish and diocesan youth ministry, at Trinity Episcopal Church, in New Orleans, and in the Diocese of North Carolina.  Following her graduation from the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, Kathy was ordained priest in 2011.

Kathy has served at Good Shepherd for seven years: six as Associate Rector on the Windsor Campus; and, now, for one year as Vicar of our new second-campus, missional community, The Hill.  As Vicar of The Hill, Kathy is partnering with parishioners and neighbors to plant a new congregation across downtown Austin, in a neighborhood new to Good Shepherd.

Kathy and her husband, Phil, have two teenaged children, Charles and Camille.  In her free time, she enjoys cooking, laughing, and listening to music.

Please click here to learn more about Good Shepherd, Good Shepherd on the Hill, Saint Alban’s, and The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, and, between now and September, please know that we will be keeping you in our Sunday petitions, praying:

For the unity of God’s Church, giving thanks and praying mercy for our shared summer ministry with Saint Paul’s in Rome;
For all who proclaim the Gospel – near and far – and all who seek the Truth.

We hope that our time together will build an oft-crossed bridge between Central Texas and Rome, with opportunities for us to meet and support one another in the years to come.

See you this summer!

The Rev. Morgan S. Allen,

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