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Jun 01, 2012 | The Reverend Susan Kennard

Nominating Speech for Suffragan Nominee the Rev. Jeff Fisher

I am the Reverend Susan Kennard, Rector of Trinity Parish, Galveston. It is my privilege to enter into nomination the name of our brother in the Lord Jesus, The Rev. Jeff Fisher.  Thanks to the nomination and walkabout process, the broad strokes of Jeff’s qualifications for the job of Suffragan Bishop are known to you already.  The outline of his experience in the business world, and as a parish priest, is known to you as well.


In these few minutes, I plan to give you some details, and to articulate why I believe he will be a spectacular bishop for the spectacular Eastern region of the spectacular Episcopal Diocese of Texas! What an amazing time to be alive, and to be leaders in the church, as we are, as you are.  All of you.


Jeff Fisher is a graduate of the Virginia Theological Seminary, where we were classmates.  He was a recognized leader in that very diverse seminary community, with a particular voice of strength.  Among faculty who are world leaders in their field, Jeff is still remembered and his thoughts and words are valued. His close ties from that period give him a circle of influence across the entire church—East coast, West coast, North and South, urban and rural, big and small.


Prior to that time of formation, Jeff was a proven leader in the world of business and finance.  As the Chief Financial Officer for an organization that managed in excess of 500 million dollars, we might make the mistake of thinking that the job was managing money. The job was managing people. But really, at that level, it’s not so much managing people as leading people. Jeff shared in one of the walkabout sessions the response of a co-worker, when it was announced that he was leaving, and why. “Of course,” she said, “You already are the pastor of our office.” I don’t think she had the structure or language of an Episcopal background, or she might have easily said, “You already are the bishop of our office.”


Jeff’s leadership over many years at St. Alban’s parish in Waco has resulted in unprecedented growth in every way.  St. Alban’s has experienced a numerical increase of 85% in attendance, large confirmation classes, new programs, rebirth of outreach: a deeper encounter with the Living God in every way. These things only happen when rectors are collaborative leaders and encouragers, and when they are pastors, teachers, and preachers of excellence. Jeff has been all of those things.


Pastoral care, teaching, preaching, leading: a 4-sided way of life empowered by the Holy Spirit and by the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


The vast world of the church, that 4-sided world of ordained ministry, is lived out in a unique way in that special place up on FM 362 towards Navasota, that holy place we know as Camp Allen.  There every summer, the rubber meets the road as hundreds of children and youth roll into camp every Sunday afternoon.


And there every year of our shared ministry, Jeff and his wife Susan Fisher have pulled into campsite one, with glue guns, markers, tie-dyed pillow cases, and Bible in hand.  Over the past seven years, 441 eight and nine year olds have heard the powerful life of Jesus proclaimed in Jeff’s unique voice.  I mostly come to you on behalf of those 441, along with the dozens of teenagers and young adults who have joined us along the way.  Jeff has loved, listened to, prayed with, encouraged, and challenged them.  Thanks to Jeff’s gifts for ministry, they have experienced the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached and acted out and lived in such a way that you want to learn more. You want to come back. You want to live for Jesus.


There’s no faking it at Camp Allen.


And of course, there’s no faking it at St. Alban’s Waco, or on the Executive Board, or on the Standing Committee, or as head of the Greenfield Commission.  There’s no faking it in the Anglican Communion, or the House of Bishops, or the Eastern region of the Diocese of Texas.  Jeff’s vision of the Kingdom of God is real, and contagious, and spectacular. Real … contagious ... spectacular.


Thank you.