A Letter from Chaplain Rob Sturdy and Gantt Folline Concerning the Upcoming Bishop’s Election

By August 3, 2021Blog Posts, News

 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

-Rom 12.1

St. Alban’s Students, Staff, Volunteers, Supporters and Friends,

On Aug 2, the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina announced that I had been selected for consideration as one of three final candidates for the next Bishop Coadjutor of the diocese. The process that led to my selection was prayerful, pastorally sensitive, and professionally run. The members of the Bishop’s Search Committee, especially the chairman, Jason Collins, deserve our thanks and congratulations on a well-run process. The committee also deserves our thanks and congratulations on the slate of candidates. The Very Rev. Chip Edgar, Dean of Holy Apostles Cathedral in Columbia, S.C., and Rev. Chris Warner, Rector of Church of the Holy Cross, Sullivan’s Island, are both very fine candidates. Though I have only met Chip a handful of times, his reputation is exceptional and I was excited to see his name on this list. I consider Chris a friend and would be excited to serve under his leadership, if that is God’s will. We are very fortunate to have such fine minsters of the Gospel offered to us for consideration and I ask you to keep both Chip and Chris, as well as their families, in your prayers.

This process began for me back in the spring of 2021 when I was notified that I had been nominated as a candidate. I was surprised by this phone call, as serving in episcopal leadership is not something I would have sought out on my own for a variety of reasons, but most of all because I do not wish to be pulled away from St. Alban’s Anglican Chapel. Never before have I had the privilege of being in a church body that was so radically committed to the wide open, crucified arms of Jesus Christ. The arms of this chapel have not only been open to the hurting, needy, and lost, without condition, but they have been open to one another, and to me. The lived nature of our Gospel community is particularly precious to me.

The St. Alban’s Anglican Chapel has been a community that takes responsibility to the wider world seriously, including the wider world of the church. When there is a need, we have a long and prestigious track record of saying “Yes,” and offering ourselves up in service. And as much as this posture is reinforced and encouraged by The Citadel, and embodied in our chapel community, we learn it ultimately from Jesus Christ, who offered himself for our sakes, because he loves us. In turn, we learn to offer ourselves for others, out of love, and that is what I have decided to do in this situation. I am merely offering myself as one candidate among three, and I offer myself from a sense of responsibility to my church as well as a deep love for the people of this diocese. The offering is a sacrifice, because it may take me away from a community I sincerely love, nevertheless to be asked to offer one’s self in this way is also an honor. I request your prayers.

What happens next? Our cadets report for “Challenge Week” on Aug 14th. We will be there to welcome them and will provide worship opportunities on the 15th and 22nd. Our first regular chapel service will be held on Aug 23. Then we’re off and running! The Bishop’s election will not effect our community until the week of Sept 13, where I will participate in a series of “walkabouts”, informal gatherings that provide the Diocese the opportunity to get to know the candidates. There will be a walkabout on the 13th (Georgetown), 14th (Florence), 15th (Charleston), and 16th (Beaufort). The election will be held on Oct 16th. The consecration will be held on March 12th.

In the meantime, we have work to do. The Corps of Cadets returns imminently. There will be many Christians in need of community, seekers in need of answers, hurting people in need of comfort, vulnerable people in need of protection. How excited I am to throw myself into this work once more, at your side, as we seek to be “little Christs” (to borrow Luther’s phrase) to our neighbors and to one another. You all do this so well. It is such a privilege to do this work with you. I look forward to seeing you, participating in thunderous worship of our gracious and loving God, and reaching out to the least and lost. It is my personal hope that we will do this together for many, many more years to come.

With greatest affection,

Rob

 

A Letter from Gantt Folline, Chairman of the Board, St. Alban’s Anglican Chapel

To the St. Alban’s Students, Staff, Volunteers, Supporters and Friends,
As a follow up to Reverend Sturdy’s letter to you all I want to first congratulate our Chaplain of St. Alban’s Chapel on being chosen to potentially serve, as one of three finalists, in the position of Bishop CoAdjutor for the Diocese of South Carolina.  When I first heard the words come out of our beloved Chaplain’s mouth that he had been put up as a candidate, and indeed was a finalist to potentially serve one day as our next Bishop of South Carolina, I must admit I was a bit gutted at the thought of losing such a special human being and friend I’ve had the privilege of knowing and serving with these past few years.  Dr. Sturdy, or if I can call him Rob as I think he prefers, simply has the esprit de corps of our institution, The Citadel, where the road is less traveled, but more so the spirit of the body of Christ, which once upon a time when Rob was still a cadet took over and changed his life for ever.  Rob’s story is remarkable as he has moved with the body of Christ from church leadership positions to Chaplain leadership coupled with higher education achievements including obtaining his masters degree and now his Phd.  The road less traveled to higher education has allowed Rob to further enhance his ability to convey the Gospel more acutely to our youth who are longing for a sense of purpose, mission and family, and to those with ears to hear and eyes to see.  This my friends it seems is how things go down when the Lord comes a calling in unexpected ways, but perhaps a new road less traveled may be in store for our Chaplain and that can make all the difference.
I’ll state it again, my first experience was a sense of loss at hearing the news that Rob might be leaving his post as Chaplain of St. Alban’s Chapel, but then a new sense of wonder, excitement and new possibilities overtook my thoughts.  I think I speak for the entire board in saying that should our beloved Chaplain be called to serve as the next Bishop of South Carolina, while we might grieve at the loss of such a special person like Rob Sturdy not being present at our quarterly meetings, or absent from our day to day advisement and guidance if you are a cadet or part of the St. Alban’s Anglican Chapel Family, or from our routine interaction and fellowship, we can certainly know the Lord himself has called a graduate of The Citadel to serve in a higher capacity should the announcement come.  Most importantly, we can assuredly know that St. Alban’s Anglican Chapel will always be in good hands and under the watchful eye of a faithful servant if it is God’s will and calling for Rob.  Alternatively, if it is not time for Rob to leave, but indeed that season does await one day….just saying, then we get to serve with such a fine leader for what I hope is many more years to come.  I have no doubt either course of God’s plan for Rob will be a blessing for St. Alban’s Chapel.
Like you, I have been so moved by the work Rob has accomplished as Chaplain in such a short period of time bringing more of God’s children home through the Good News of Jesus Christ, and through Baptism for new believers, students in the Charleston area and cadets at The Citadel.  It is perhaps through our experiences at The Citadel that we gain our foundation for life through discipline, endurance, education, faith and brotherhood as part of the Long Grey Line, but what is even more apparent is that those foundations were always pointing to the true Foundation – Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.  When our youths grasp this fact their lives change forever with a real sense of purpose, meaning, mission and a calling.  As CS Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
In closing, no matter the outcome we are in excellent hands, and our Chaplain wants our board and ministry to move ahead in mission with him at the helm, or perhaps on the bridge – God’s will be done.  Friends, we still have work to do.  I invite each of you to pray, ponder, discern, read your Bible and consult the Lord your God who gives each of us breath, life, mission and purpose to serve in His Kingdom, and to be joyful in all things.  The Prophet Jeremiah tells us: “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord.  They are like trees planted by the rivers of water sending out roots.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).  I think I speak for the entire board of St. Alban’s Chapel in saying we are very excited for Chaplain Robert Sturdy in the service God has planned for him.
Many blessings!
Your humble servant,
Gantt Folline