Written by William Jay Lambert
My wife, May Ruth, and I are delighted to be new members of the St. Philip’s Family! I was born in Detroit but grew up from age nine through high school in Atlanta. In 1970 I graduated from Rollins College with a B.A. in History and Public Affairs. I then spent four years in the United States Navy. I was first enlisted and then an officer. I finished active duty as Officer in Charge of Armed Forces Courier Station Honolulu. I returned to the Navy in 1986 as a Chaplain in the Navy Reserve. For 22 years I served the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. I was activated with the Marine Corps in the First Gulf War. I retired in 2008 with the rank of Captain.
When I left active duty with the Navy in 1974 I went to the University of Georgia. In 1976 I received an M.A. in history. My thesis was a study of the Kimberly Diamond Fields in South Africa from 1874-78. The decisions made during that time sowed the tragic seeds of apartheid in that nation. Soon after completion of this degree God called me to ordained ministry. In 1978, I became a seminarian at Nashotah House in Wisconsin. I received an M.Div. from Nashotah in 1981. I was ordained Deacon in 1981 in the Diocese of Southwest Florida. In 1982 I was ordained in Southwest Florida as Priest. From 1981-83 I was Assistant to the Rector at Calvary Church in Indian Rocks Beach. In September of 1983 I became Rector of St. Peter’s Church in West Allis, Wisconsin. From June of 1990 until April of 2007 I was Rector of St. Boniface Church in Mequon, Wisconsin. During my tenure at St. Boniface we built a large church and reception area. The cost was $2.3 million. In 2007 I became Rector of St. James Church in Leesburg. I served St. James until I became Bishop of Eau Claire in 2013. I was Bishop of Eau Claire from March 2013 until December 1, 2020. I resigned because I turned 72 years old. This is required of all Diocesan Bishops by canon law.
I learned a great deal while Bishop of Eau Claire. As a successor to the Apostles, I recognized that I was to lead the Church of God in new ways. The first time I ordained a deacon or priest, and when I first confirmed someone, I would find myself asking, “Who is supposed to ordain or confirm these people?” I would then respond, “Oh I’m to do this!” In time I would learn that becoming a bishop made me different from whom I had been as a priest. It’s like being an apple and now shoved into becoming a pear. At first it was strange to guide, love, and support so many different clergy. In time I realized that God was with me from the moment of ordination onward. I had to give up control and allow God to act through me. The result is I don’t worry about details. I trust others to do their work while I adapt to the way they do things. I believe what I have learned as a bishop will aid me greatly as I adjust to being your Rector.
May Ruth and I have been married 52 years. She is the great love of my life. Since 2009 she has been a Nurse Practitioner specializing in Women’s Health. We have two daughters, Madeleine and Lydia, and a son, Alex. Madeleine is 36, Lydia is 34, and Alex is 30. Madeleine and Lydia are both happily married. Madeleine and her husband, Dave, have two sons. Finley, who is 3 years old, and Hunter who is 7 months. Lydia and her husband, Jon, have a nearly 2 year old daughter, Cecelia. Lydia and Jon are expecting a newborn son around late November or early December. We are a close family. Alex is single and since Covid has looked after May Ruth and me at our home in Leesburg. Madeleine and Lydia live near Milwaukee. May Ruth and I try to visit our daughters, sons-in-law, and ESPECIALLY our grandchildren once every three months.
I am most impressed with the lay ministries and the commitment you each have as part of the St. Philip’s community. I know that with you I will grow as a person and in my journey of faith. Hopefully I can have a role in God’s plans for you! Believe me, I am deeply grateful to be your new rector!
Also found on the SPEC Connect eNewsletter, On our website – StPhilipsJax.org, In our Ministry’s Realm Group