It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you The Rev. Freda Marie Brown, who will join us in June as one of our new associate rectors. Freda Marie was born in Greenville, Mississippi and went to college at Xavier University of Louisiana, graduating with a degree in medical technology. For 21 years she served as a clinical laboratory director at St. Paul’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Sensing a call to another dimension of health care, she earned a Master’s degree in Theological Studies at SMU, and then served as a palliative care chaplain in hospice and hospital settings for 7 years. Her deepening call to healing ministries led Freda Marie to further discernment, and she was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Dallas in 2010. She served as the Associate Rector of the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation in Lewisville for 5 years.
In 2014, Freda Marie was called to be the executive director of St. Vincent’s House, in Galveston. Founded in 1954 as an outreach ministry of an African American episcopal parish, St. Vincent’s House provides medical, dental, and vision care, mental health services, physical rehab, and speech therapy for underserved and disadvantaged residents of Galveston. In her three years there, Freda Marie brought structure and good management to the organization, strengthening their programs and fiscal health. She also stirred up the Spirit: “Hope is an action at St. Vincent’s House,” she reports, where we lead our “friends into new life, never giving up and never giving in.” After a year as a Bishop’s fellow, she has been the interim rector of All Saints in Stafford, Texas.
Freda Marie moved me, and the parishioners who advised me in the search, with her profound listening skills. “She has such a huge heart,” said one member of the committee. “We were in a noisy restaurant, eating and talking over lunch,” said another, “and Freda Marie made me feel like I was the only person in the room.” “Her pastoral skills are just immense,” offered a third person.” “I would trust Freda Marie with the most vulnerable person at her most tender moment.” The staff was immediately drawn to her—we laughed and cried our way through the interview—and by the afternoon, Cristina and I sat with Freda Marie and found ourselves envisioning how we might form a team together. In that conversation, Freda Marie asked us what we needed, which I believe is predictive of the gift she will be to this community.
Freda Marie’s title will be Associate for Spirituality, and while each of the priests on the staff will share the responsibilities of preaching, teaching, and pastoral care, she will particularly focus on the following areas: lead organizer of Pastoral Care, small group fellowship and support (altar guild, knitting, Tuesday group, women’s group, men’s group, lay Eucharistic ministers, readers, ushers, etc.), Contemplative prayer, Healing and wellness (pastoral care team, St. Luke’s ministry), Sacred space for grace, and ministry to retirement communities.
We are so lucky that Freda Marie has said, “Yes!” to Redeemer and Baltimore. I want to thank the members of the advisory committee, who with me read resumes, conducted interviews, hosted candidate visits, and prayed lots of prayers. They are Cynthia Terry, David Frisch, Judy Ulrich, Paul Harner, Stephanie Hurter Brizee, Brandon Berkeley, Anna Von Lunz, Jen Hobbins, Ted Winstead, and Mary DeKuyper.
As I write this letter, I do not yet have definitive news on the other search for an associate rector. Please keep that process in your prayers!
We have so much to be thankful for at Redeemer.