The Rev. Canon Tina Rathbone has announced her decision to leave her ministry as canon missioner at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston, effective March 4, in order to pursue a call to serve with immigrants and refugees in Mexico and Central America--a new ministry that is still taking shape.
Rathbone has served at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul for 10 years and been a pastor to downtown Boston's homeless community, developing and nurturing numerous ministry programs and gatherings that combine to form the cathedral church's MANNA (Many Angels Needed Now and Always) community, with and for people who are experiencing homelessness or who have been unhoused.
"My time here has been completely life changing, entirely grace filled and just plain extraordinary," Rathbone said in a Feb. 4 letter to the cathedral community. "I am deeply grateful for it all, and for you and the support you have offered us all as MANNA grew from a dream to a flourishing cathedral ministry. This decision has come neither quickly nor easily, and I'm still uncertain that I'll ever again find a community as rich and patient and loving and generous as the one I've been surrounded by here. But over time, and increasingly deeply as I sit in prayer, it has come to feel right that I answer another call I've long held in my heart."
The Very Rev. Amy E. McCreath, in a letter accompanying Rathbone's announcement, offered gratitude for Rathbone's ministry and their time together as colleagues. "I am so thankful that my tenure as dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul has overlapped with Tina's as canon missioner," McCreath said. "She is a wise pastor, an extraordinary preacher and a creative companion who has given 150 percent to everything she's done here. But more than all of that, she is a faithful follower of Jesus, and so she must follow where he is leading, and that means leaving this ministry to make room for the next in a new place. While I grieve her departure, I celebrate her faithfulness."
The Rev. Jennifer McCracken, who has been the head pastor to the MANNA community for the past two years, will assume leadership of the MANNA team starting in mid-June and will move from part-time to full-time status on the cathedral staff. Staffing provisions are in the works to ensure that MANNA's programs continue uninterrupted during the interim period.
"Jennifer is a gifted, prayerful priest, and her extensive experience leading teams and working in solidarity with those on the margins means that not only is the MANNA program in good hands, but the whole cathedral community will be greatly blessed as she lives into this new role," McCreath said in her letter.
A celebration of Rathbone's ministry is planned for Sunday, March 3 at 4 p.m. in Sproat Hall at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (138 Tremont Street). Gifts in her honor, in support of MANNA, may be made payable to the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, with "Thank you Tina!" in the memo line, and sent to the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Attention: Kevin Vetiac, 138 Tremont Street, Boston MA 02111.