The Rev. Kenneth H. Brannon, rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sun Valley, will relocate to serve a congregation in Dallas, Texas, next month after 12 years in the Wood River Valley.
Brannon’s last Sunday service will be on the Day of Pentecost, June 9. The traditional ending of a pastoral relationship service will be conducted by the Rt. Rev. Brian Thom, bishop of Idaho, the same evening at 7 p.m.
“I can thank this church for making me a priest,” said Brannon, who was ordained 16 years ago.
Brannon said the church has grown in strength during the past 12 years, but he attributed that to the community that he served.
“I found a lot of life and vitality when I got here. This is a safe, generous and honest community,” he said.
Brannon said serving as rector and lead priest at St. Thomas had a three-fold significance; the roles included serving as pastor, priest and a leader with “prophetic capacity.”
“A pastor is there when someone needs someone to talk to. A priest serves at the altar and celebrates the sacraments. Someone with prophetic capacity is able to say the things that need to be said to a community.”
Brannon said no one wants to be a prophet because that means seeing things clearly and then standing between and bridging what he or she sees and what God holds for creation.
“People are grieving the gap between the world that is possible and the world that we see,” he said.
Brannon conducted his sermons from the floor beginning about a year ago, a move that he said changed his relationship with the congregation.
“When I moved from the pulpit to the floor, people started learning more about Ken,” Brannon said. “The practice of writing a sermon has built-in accountability. It causes me to examine myself, my relation to God and my relation to the community. I read the same newspapers as everyone else, but I’m charged with bringing the news into conversation with faith, reason and Christian tradition. Faith exists in the push and pull between these three things.”
Brannon said he does not believe in “private Christians.”
“Some people are introverted in their faith. Others are more extroverted. I am somewhere in between, but if I couldn’t live out my faith in community, it would be a very different experience, perhaps only a philosophical or intellectual exercise.”
Brannon said his work as a religious leader includes addressing divisions in congregations and the wider community.
“In our culture, there’s a great deal of polarization. In Christ our work is to heal some of these divisions. We can celebrate our diversity in community with one another,” he said.
Brannon said he privately began the process of relocating to another parish about two years ago. When he was passed over after being nominated to serve as bishop for the state of Maine, he was later asked to join St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas.
Brannon’s new post as vice rector of St. Michael and All Angels Church will bring him to serve in circumstances different than Sun Valley’s. He describes the church as a “large and complex organization” with a staff of 50, including seven clergy.
“They have a learning center that is healing a very impoverished part of the city where utility companies weren’t even going until recently because it was so dangerous. This is an example of what a church of means with heart can do for a community,” he said.
The Rev. Kathleen Bean will serve as associate rector of St. Thomas Church beginning June 30. Bean has served as an intern at St. Thomas for the past six months.
An interim priest will join the church later in the summer and a search will be undertaken to find a new rector to replace Brannon.