The Rev. Robert Bryant is rector of St. John the Baptist, Portland. He previously served on the Diocesan Council and the Standing Committee.
What sparked your interest in serving on a diocesan level?
I see this as a way that I keep my priestly vows. When I was ordained, one of the promises I made was to take part in the councils of the Church. It is an important way of getting a sense of the larger family of faith, and making sure that I don’t get tunnel vision in my parish work. Diocesan activity is part of my formation, something that rounds me out as a Christian.
Additionally, my parish benefits from the connection with the diocese. It makes us more aware of the many resources the diocese provides – staff forums, retreats, workshops – and opens us up to the larger family of churches around us. There are so many opportunities to collaborate with neighboring parishes, and the lay people from St. John’s appreciate the importance of building these connections.
What are some of the significant experiences you have had in diocesan leadership?
My time on the Standing Committee really drove home the importance of thinking on a diocesan level, about what is in the best interest of the diocese as a whole. Holding in confidence some difficult situations while prayerfully listening to and supporting the bishop is vital for the long-term life of our diocese.
Personally, my favorite diocesan leadership experiences were as the Chair of Liturgy & Music Commission, because I have a deep love of music and it was a lot of fun. One of the most moving positions I’ve been in was on the Commission for the Ministry of the Ordained (COM-O), where we walked with people discerning a call to ordination. People are laid bare in this process, so it’s a very vulnerable and intimate time where the COM-O members have to make sure they are listening with the ears of the Church. It’s humbling, but so important because these are the people who will be serving in the church and become my clergy colleagues.
What do you suggest for people looking for a way to start getting involved on a diocesan level?
My time on the Diocesan Council formed my understanding of how the “family” works together, and what the daily life of our organization is like. It formed my understanding for all the other diocesan ministries I’ve served on. Getting involved there and in your Convocation are great first steps. And, of course, Convention is a wonderful eye-opener to see the bigger family and to worship together as a diocese.
This is part of a series of interviews with former and current members of the Standing Committee, Board of Trustees, and Diocesan Council, the three main bodies that comprise our diocesan government. All three are accepting nominations for new members, with the election taking place at Convention.