A Letter from The Rev. Canon Thomas Murphy
Posted By Thomas Murphy on December 03, 2017
Dear All Souls,
It must have been so painful. That first sermon. Sure, everyone knew me as the former Camp Henry counselor, the youth guy, and the children’s minister. But then, there I was with a white piece of plastic around my neck, climbing up the stairs to the pulpit. I can only describe the congregation’s expressions as being like a room full of parents watching their child take a first step. If someone would have yelled out, “you can do it!” It would have been so appropriate. Then I started speaking and magic happened. Using my verbal powers I transformed a 12-minute sermon into a 7-minute sermon, without even pauses for laughter. After I sat down, I looked out and everyone in the pews looked like victims of a verbal fire hose.
Since then, in all aspects of my priesthood, parishioners at All Souls have gently guided me, advised me, cautioned me, and shaped me in my vocation. Along with the mentorship of the Dean, the former sub-Dean, and an incredible Organist/Choirmaster (every ready to offer suggestions), I have been nurtured in leadership, pastoral care, and liturgy. I am the priest I am today because of all the people who cared enough to venture with me on this journey. You have watched me be ordained, welcomed all of my children into this world, and held me up after my father passed away. For this I have been incredible blessed.
These next words are among the most bittersweet I have ever typed. They are sweet because I have been offered the position of Rector at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Brevard, NC, for which I am equal parts excited, humbled, and trepidatious. They are bitter because it will mean that I am taking a call which will take me away from this community. My emotions around this decision are all over the map. I have so many special memories at All Souls filled with laughter, illumination, and tears. I will be moving away from so many deep relationships that even predate my 11 years on staff. There were many moments during my time here where an anthem, a sermon, or the community coming together to help the “least of these” has shown me just how thin the wall is between this world and the Kingdom of God. The Cathedral of All Souls is a sacred place precisely because it cultivates the reality that the very people in the pews are actually the Church.
The tentative plans are for me to remain on staff until after the Christmas season and then begin my transition to Brevard. I ask for your prayers during this time for my family and the leadership of All Souls as they discern the future of this wonderful institution. I will never adequately find a way to express my gratitude for everything that All Souls has meant to my formation and my family, so I end it the only way cradle Episcopalians can end anything:
Thanks be to God!
The Reverend Canon Thomas Murphy