The Vestry is happy to announce that The Reverend Joseph Shepley has accepted the call to be the next Rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. He will begin his ministry among us in August and will be installed by Bishop Eaton on the evening of Saturday August 12. Thank you to the search committee for their dedication, prayers, and diligence during this process.
The Reverend Joseph Shepley (who goes by “Fr. Joe&”) was ordained in 1996. Having received his Master of Divinity from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, he has served in Washington state, midtown Manhattan and most recently exurban Connecticut for the last sixteen years as Rector of St. Paul’s in Brookfield.
While on a large parish staff in New York City, on the day of 9/11, he took a cab down to Ground Zero and entered the rubble, joining first responders in searching for survivors while holding the first burial service surrounding that tragic day right on the smoldering site. This led to his spending the next five years leading an outreach healing ministry to the survivors in and around the city. This experience prepared him to minister to the victims of Sandy Hook, located next to his current parish, where he continues to bring God’s healing balm to the hurting with a deep dedication toward equipping others in God’s healing gifts.
He and his wife, Tara, have three adult children. Tara was ordained an Episcopal priest in 2019 and is passionate about healing and prayer ministries. Fr. Joe has been active in diocesan and international Anglican leadership roles throughout his ministry as a consultant with an emphasis on church growth, stewardship, and clergy development. His love for Christ, love for people, and passion in bringing both together is the heart of his calling.
Letter from Fr. Joe
Dear St. Mary’s Church,
It is with humility and excitement that I have accepted the honor of being called to serve as your next Rector. My wife, Tara, and I already feel a deep love for your community and look forward to getting to know you, and you, us. I’m truly grateful to be joining a tremendous leadership team as together we seek God’s will for the era that awaits us.
Throughout our shared process of discernment leading up to my call to you, and you to me, the following verse continually came before me in prayer, and still does. It is the verse where Jesus declares that “the sower and the reaper rejoice together” (John 4:36).
I interpret this to mean that God has a mighty plan of joy for our common future. It further means that I am always to be aware of the privilege I am afforded in coming alongside you in celebrating God’s abundant harvest of souls prepared by those who have gone before us, and those who are serving with us now.
Finally, it means that the Lord is asking me to lead us forward into further growth through deep prayer and bold action as together we follow Jesus. Frankly, I’ve never been more excited about a call!
The time when we join with each other cannot come soon enough, for my heart is already with you. Until then, may God continue to draw us in the Spirit’s tether as one spiritual family poised for the brightest of futures through Christ the Light of the world.
In faith, hope and love,
Fr. Joe Shepley