Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Rev. Frederick L. Steinbach

If the Rev. Frederick L. Steinbach looks happy --- well, there was a good deal of justification for that Saturday as he and three others were ordained deacons in The Episcopal Church by Bishop Alan Scarfe at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Des Moines. The 200 or so of us who were gathered on a very cold December day to witness were smiling, too.

The others ordained were Hannah E. Corthwaite, Church of the Savior, Orange City; Karen G. Crawford, St. Timothy's Church, West Des Moines; and Sheryl A. Hughes-Empke, St. Mark's Church, Des Moines.

The High Street facade of St. Paul's, a gothic revival confection built on what once was known as Des Moines' "Church Hill," but now is embedded among the concrete and high-rises of busy downtown Des Moines. We got there early enough to find a spot in the cathedral parking lot, a major triumph.

The Sacred Order of Deacons is a clerical order in the Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and some other expressions of the church and those ordained into it have a specific mission and responsibilities, but Iowa's newest are "transitional." This means that within the coming year, all will be ordained priests.

Bishop Scarfe in his sermon, however, urged the four to live into their new vocations within the diaconate --- to proclaim the Gospel and serve others --- and not become too involved in anticipating the next step.

The nave begins to fill before Saturday's service began. This is a big church, but before all was said and done we'd done a credible job of filling it. The mighty Casavant Freres organ is one of Iowa's finest instruments.

For some of those ordained Saturday, this will be a second vocation. Fred, for example, is a retired educator who moved home to Chariton with his wife, Sherry, from Wyoming upon retirement. Shortly thereafter he began one of the complicated paths that can lead to ordination in The Episcopal Church. This has involved work at seminaries in Chicago and Dubuque, extensive study at home in Chariton and on-the-job training at various sites. Since the death last summer of St. Andrew's vicar, the Rev. Sue Palmer, he has served as lay leader at both St. Andrew's and our sister parish, Grace of Albia.

We had a good crew present from Chariton, both family and parishioners --- including our two youngest communicants, ages 2 and 5 if I'm remembering correctly. They were the youngest in the cathedral. Sadly, our vicar emeritus, the Rev. Richard Lintner, now in his 80s, just dismissed from a Des Moines hospital on Friday, couldn't be with us. Fred was presented for ordination by his mentor, the Rev. Paul Walker of Burlington, and Sherry, representing the parish. The Rev. Rich Gates represented our friends at Chariton First Lutheran in the processional.

Sherry (left) with Zerelda and Dru in the narthex as we awaited stragglers.

Sherry had other roles in the service, too. As psalmist, she nailed it --- and served as an oblation bearer, too. The rest of us baked cookies for the reception that followed and just showed up.

Then after the reception in the undercroft, because this is Iowa and sunset was about an hour away, we headed home. Saturday also was the opening day of a major deer season, so the critters were bound to be restless, stalking unwary motorists. It seemed like a good idea to be home before dark.

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