St. Paul’s discernment technically began in mid-August, after Rev. Steven Teague concluded his career of full-time ministry with nine years at St. Paul’s and returned with his wife Karen to his home state of North Carolina. In a spiritual sense, the discernment process actually began (unknowingly, perhaps) in St. Paul’s VIVA discussions several years earlier, report wardens Stephen Filmanowicz and Terry Zimmer. As the discernment committee met, we revisited those conversations about our values, identity, vision and actions, and focused ourselves on the St. Paul’s values and needs that would guide us in recognizing our next rector. These conversations helped us describe ourselves in our profile as “a faith-centered community that celebrates what unites us and what makes each of our members unique — a place in a diverse city where people of any heritage, background and walk of life can truly feel at home.” Through these conversations, we identified four attributes we were seeking in a rector above others: strong personal connections and relationships, spiritual direction and guidance, moving preaching and teaching, and warm pastoral care.
While we were impressed by the qualities of several fine candidates, we felt that Fr. Brad Toebben demonstrated these attributes with remarkable clarity, beginning in an initial telephone interview that showed true sensitivity toward St. Paul’s gifts, traditions and path as a parish, along with inspired ideas for expanded and new ministries. The team that visited him in his parish (St. Mary’s in Eugene, Oregon) made the following observations:
- “(Brad) makes sure the sermon is reflective of the lessons and what is happening in everyday life.”
- “I felt touched by what he shared and enjoyed the sermon.”
- “The congregation clearly loves him and connects with him during sermons and other interactions.”
- “He has a subtle, deadpan sense of humor…according to his rector – he smiles with his eyes”
- “Brad also seems to leverage the skills and expertise of the members in the formation offered”
One couple who has known Fr. Brad since he began his journey in the priesthood described him as “a man who works at living and being and connecting what it is that Jesus models.” The Rector of his church remarked that Brad’s pastoral skills are about the finest he has seen.
As the discernment committee considered what Fr. Brad would bring to St. Paul’s, these qualities and strengths were called out: his passion for his ministry, his strong theological background, his gift for listening, his collaborative approach, his concern for outreach and social justice, and his enthusiasm about ideas for children’s and youth ministries. The committee also noted that he values what St. Paul’s values in tradition, music, religious education and liturgical aesthetics.
We trust that you will discover these qualities, and others, as we welcome him into our community, and begin to work with him in realizing the grace-filled mission of St. Paul’s.
Yours in faith and love,
Read the full announcement here.