By Chris Bavender
St. Francis In-the-Fields will welcome a new associate rector Sept. 1 when Rev. Whitney Rice joins the church. Her first Sunday service is set for Sept. 11. For the last three years, Rice has run two churches – St. Thomas in Franklin and St. Luke’s in Shelbyville.
“St. Thomas and St. Luke’s are very, very dear to me, and I am going to miss them so much. But running two churches by myself was really the type of thing that any one priest can only do for so long. It’s simply too demanding to do it solo long-term,” Rice said. “My frustration was that I never could really dig in deeply in ministry areas. I always had to skim along the surface just to keep both churches going at once. And so while I loved having two churches, I decided it was time to go to just one church and be on a clergy team again.”
Rice had worked with St. Francis Rector Rev. C. Davies Reed on diocesan projects and the two had a good rapport.
“When he recruited me to work with him at St. Francis and we began to talk about it, we both realized we’d make an excellent team,” said Rice, 33. “My strengths and interests are complementary to his – my least favorite ministry work is his favorite, and vice versa.”
Her role will evolve as the two build their ministry, but some of Rice’s areas of emphasis will include Christian formation from toddlers through seniors and communications. She will also celebrate Holy Eucharist every Sunday at one of the services and preach approximately twice a month.
Rice also is a staff writer for Sermons That Work and has a blog, Roof Crashers & Hem Grabbers, which she considers her “most effective evangelism tool.”
“Preaching and writing are my primary ministry gifts. I see ‘communicator of the gospel’ as my spiritual fingerprint and the heart of my call. My preaching and writing online are a part of that call,” she said. “I have had members join my churches because they read my blog and were curious, came to hear me preach in person, and then realized that the church community as a whole had so much to offer them.”