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St. John's Episcopal Church
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Fourth Annual Conference Adventures in Episcopal Medical Ministries
Guatemala -Duane Leifur, St. John's Episcopal Church, Pensacola, FloridaPakistan -Dr.Guatemala -Duane Leifur, St. John's Episcopal Church, Pensacola, Florida
The Vergers' Guild of the Episcopal Church
Duane Leifur St. John's Duane Leifur St. John's
News | PensacolaNewsJournal.com
No one , that is , except Leifur herself , who at 46 was a wife , mother of teen-agers and dedicated church volunteer.I was not raised in a tradition that women did anything but teach a Sunday school class she says.On Tuesday , Leifur will be inducted officially as the new rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Warrington , making her the first female rector of an Episcopal church in Pensacola.She is only the second female rector in all of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast , which covers Southeast Alabama and Northwest Florida.A week before her induction , Leifur is putting together her office at St. John's , where she has been leading services since July 8.A candle burns slowly on a tall writing table , while soothing instrumental fills the room.Leifur sips from a coffee cup that reads God Is Not A Boy's Name..Her black clerical blouse and pants and starched white collar are accessorized with smart black pumps , silver bracelets , a sterling cross hanging at her waist and a casually tailored tiger-striped jacket.If someone needs to use an honorific , Leifur prefers Pastor..First , being called Pastor spares her the daily snickers that inevitably would accompany being called Mother Teresa..It's more descriptive of what we do , and it's neither male nor female..Women have been ordained in the Episcopal Church for 25 years , says Bishop Philip Duncan of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast , and female rectors are becoming more common across the country.He is particularly excited about Leifur's arrival at St. John's.Although Leifur thinks in terms of being a priest , rather than being a female priest , she knows that her femininity informs everything from her vestments to her sermons to her theology.Leifur has church members bring in scraps of sentimental fabric , which will be sewn together to make part of her vestments.Yeo is bringing a bit of the veil her mother wore when she was married at St. John's and that Yeo wore at her own wedding at St. John's.Yeo says Leifur also has The Look - that silent form of communication mothers and grandmothers use at dinner tables around the world.I was ecstatic , says Duane Leifur , 69.We knew that she was cut out to do this , and we thought God was calling her.It took her a while before she understood that..About two years later , after much counseling with her parish priest and with her church spiritual adviser and appearances before the commission on ministry , she and her golden retriever , Abigail , moved to Atlanta , where she attended Candler School of Theology at Emory University.That's where the men in my family went to become doctors , she says with a laugh.After graduating from seminary six years ago , Leifur served as resident chaplain at Baptist Hospital and then as curate at St. Monica's Church in Cantonment.Most recently , she was vicar of Immanuel Episcopal Church in Bay Minette , Ala. , where her husband is staying until the couple can sell their home there.The parishioners at St. John's have welcomed her warmly , she says.One of the church's 250 parishioners gives her use of a house in Pensacola , where she stays Sunday through Thursday , before returning to Bay Minette for weekend reunions with Duane and her dog , Abigail.St. John's Episcopal Church , nestled under swaying pines in an Old Warrington neighborhood , has been without a full-time rector for eight months.After the Rev. Mark Wilson left the church just before Christmas , members filled out surveys to compile a profile of what they valued in a new minister , and a search committee formed.Yeo says that spirituality and approachability were two of the church's top priorities , and she believes Leifur fits both qualifications.Leifur is looking forward to helping St. John's achieve its goals of growing in membership , developing a stronger youth program and building additional facilities.While facing challenges associated with being a woman in the Episcopal priesthood , Leifur is grateful to the first wave of women who paved the way some 20 years ago - women such as her friend , the Rev. Camille Hegg , rector of Church of the Redeemer in Mobile.I admire those women , and thank God they were strong enough to do what they did , she says.Attitudes have improved even in the six years since she was ordained.Duane Leifur recalls one of the first conferences the couple attended in the diocese.They gave me a pink nametag , he says.I wouldn't wear it..Today , the nametags of spouses are less gender specific , he says.