Bishop Nominee: Brendan J. Barnicle


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Letter of Introduction, Essays, Resumé:  Read Brendan Barnicle's complete materials here.

The Rev. Dr. Brendan J. Barnicle The Rev. Dr. Brendan J. Barnicle

Dear Friends in Christ,

“A lawyer, an investment banker and a priest walk into a bar…”

This might sound like the beginning of a bad joke, except that it is a description of my life. During my years in the priesthood and in business, God has offered me the honor of being with people in some of the highest and lowest points in their lives. In those moments, I have seen the face of God. I hope to do the same with the people of the Diocese of Massachusetts.

When I saw that you were looking for a bishop with “the mind of a CEO and the heart of a pastor,” your profile immediately spoke to me. Your profile does not only describe a good bishop, but really any good leader. I want those same qualities in political, educational, business and spiritual leaders.

For me, executive experience has provided a surprisingly solid foundation for pastoral ministry, and not just for the administrative parts. From years of financial analysis, I can look at a budget and see the potential for abundance, even in the midst of momentary scarcity. From years of management, I can hear of a communications challenge, and see an opportunity for community building, even in the midst of fear and anxiety. From years of leadership, I can look to transformative change and universal thriving, even in the midst of loss and uncertainty.

For example, as I have walked with congregations that are contemplating new real estate projects or new mission initiatives, we have been able to trust in the loving presence of Jesus. My executive experience has enabled me to be a pastoral presence, rather than being distracted by the technical challenges of an issue. I pray that I might be able to do the same in the Diocese of Massachusetts, bringing these experiences and gifts to help all of the diocese live more fully into becoming God’s Beloved Community.

Ours is a God of change. Few things remain static in God’s creation, including the Church. Yet, our Church has not always adapted to change quickly. We now find ourselves at an exciting time when the Church has the opportunity to make the systemic changes that ensure that we can continue to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ and the hope of our Baptismal Covenant into the world. The Diocese of Massachusetts has been leading the Church in some particularly important ways, most notably on reparations, social justice and creation care. I hope to be a resource to clergy and laity to support and empower continued transformation and leadership within this diocese.

True transformation is never easy or quick. It requires creativity, vulnerability, deep relationships and patience. It must be based in trusting collaborative partnerships. In relationship with each other, we can build trust, and with trust, we can explore change. Most importantly, transformation requires a willingness to fail. But, if we are to fail, what can be more important than failing in our attempts at becoming God’s Beloved Community?

Through my pastoral work, as well as my academic research, it is clear that congregations and dioceses that are willing to experiment with innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to ministry are flourishing. It is my hope and prayer that the Diocese of Massachusetts may embark on a season of experimentation and flourishing with whomever it calls as the next bishop.

It is a tremendous honor to join the Diocese of Massachusetts in this discernment process. My path to ordained ministry began in Massachusetts: First, as a teenager in Acton, MA, and later, as an undergraduate at Harvard. In fact, it was priestly discernment that took me from Massachusetts to the Pacific Northwest in the first place. But honestly, I have never been far away. I have so many friends, family and colleagues in Massachusetts that it has always been my home. Now, vocational discernment may lead me back to Massachusetts. As T.S. Eliot writes, “We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” I look forward to knowing the Diocese of Massachusetts and all of you, once again, for the first time.

Brendan Barnicle

Letter of Introduction, Essays, Resumé:  Read Brendan Barnicle's complete materials here.

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