The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa carries his disassembled crosier --- or staff of office (intended to resemble a shepherd's staff) --- from parish to parish neatly packaged in a metal case that looks like luggage --- or a gun case, or a saxophone. If you didn't know it was the bishop headed up the sidewalk, it could be any of those things.
Exactly how he carries the mitre --- traditional headgear of bishops in Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox and Lutheran rites --- I can't say. I've always been so busy trying to figure out something funny to say about the crosier case I've never paid sufficient attention to the latter.
But I will check that out today when the Rt. Rev. Alan Scarfe (left) is at St. Andrew's to ordain our own Fred Steinbach a priest, commencing at 2 p.m. So if you drive by the church and wonder what's going on, that's it. Or feel free to stop --- it's a public service.
St. Andrew's is a small building, so we're hoping the weather cooperates and we can spill out onto the lawn for lunch after. This will be the first time since 1867, when the church was founded, that an Episcopal priest has been ordained here and we're kind of excited about it.
Especially Fred (not to mention Sherry), who has invested three years and not inconsiderable resources and dedication in preparing for the day --- dividing his life at times between Chariton, Chicago, Dubuque and Des Moines.
Our late priest, the Rev. Sue Palmer --- who much anticipated this day but sadly was killed in an accident last summer --- was ordained at the far grander Trinity Church in Ottumwa. Fred's cousin, Sue Evans, polished up the plaque near her memorial tree yesterday just in case she decides to look in.
If you're interested in Steinbach trivia, Frederick Leo Steinbach was named for two family priests, although in that other, you know, expression of the church universal (Steinbachs traditionally have been among the rocks upon which the Sacred Heart parish is founded). The current generation has been wonderfully supportive, however --- and no sign of disturbance related to rotation in graves at either Calvary Cemetery here or out at St. Joseph's, Bauer, where the first of the Iowa tribe settled.
Episcopalians do not lead easy lives sometimes --- Cranky Catholics (none of those among the Steinbachs these days) figure we're going to hell because we're not Catholic enough. Cranky Protestants figure we're going to hell because we're too Catholic. Since Episcopalians as a rule doubt that anyone is going to hell, we're at something of a disadvantage when it comes to power games.
It's a challenge in Lucas County not to be related in some manner to the Steinbachs, so I'm looking forward to seeing my cousin Esther Belle and her daughters. My former priest at St. John's in Mason City, the Rev. Wendy Abrahamson --- now serving St. Paul's of Grinnell --- has been Fred's mentor and will be among those presenting him for ordination, along with our friend the Rev. Rich Gates of Chariton First Lutheran. The Rev. Paul Walker of Burlington, who has been here as priest often in the interim, also plans to be here. So there are reunion aspects in all of this, too.
All in all, it promises to be a great (but busy) day.