Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe will ordain the Rev. Deacon Patricia Kinney to the Priesthood at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 22, 2021 at Grace & Holy Spirit Church in Cortland. We interviewed Pat over email as she prepares for her new ministry as a priest in the Diocese of Central New York. Please keep her especially in your prayers this week, along with all our clergy and all those discerning a call to ordained ministry.
Can you tell us about your background?
I’m a lifelong Episcopalian and have lived in the Finger Lakes region for most of my life. I received a BA in Art Education and a Master’s from SUNY Empire. For 34 years, I taught elementary art in the Moravia Central School District, where I also led gifted and talented programs and coordinated Odyssey of the Mind, an international creative problem-solving program. I traveled extensively with middle-school students throughout the world.
In preparation for ordained ministry, I completed the School for Christian Leadership program at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, the diocesan Lay Preaching class, and the Clinical Pastoral Education program at Upstate Hospital in Syracuse. I am a lifelong learner, and continue to take different workshops and modules of study. I’ve been formed and grown in several churches in central New York, with most of this spent at Grace & Holy Spirit Church, a blended Episcopal/Lutheran congregation in Cortland. I’m engaged in leadership roles in the Learning Communities Initiative and the diocesan Stewardship team.
I’m an active member of the Cursillo community in Central New York and have served as a Spiritual Care provider for the Mission of Miracles with our Companion Diocese of El Salvador. I helped to establish a food pantry and a backpack food program for our school district, and lead a prison ministry team.
I’m married to Grant Kinney, a cabinet maker, and we have two children, Laura and John, and four grandchildren. We share our love for each other, for traveling and for spending time with our family. My roles as wife, mother and grandmother have given me the gift of a broad range of relationships that have instructed me in how much I still have to learn. They’ve taught me how much this is God’s world and that we are agents or “invited guests” for spreading God’s love.
My career as an educator nurtured my call by equipping me with listening skills and developing my awareness of God in every person. My family and friends have affirmed my call, in their care for me as a pastor and in my pastoring them. I’ve been blessed by sacred moments with each one, recognizing God’s presence in the small memories, those precious conversations and the big, life-changing events.
Can you tell us about your current ministry site?
I’m currently serving Grace and Holy Spirit, a blended Lutheran and Episcopalian congregation in Cortland, New York, and mentored by the Rev. Pete Williams. I’ve been serving in our liturgy as a deacon, proclaiming the Gospel, setting the table and distributing communion. I’ve helped complete our parochial report and helped with our Stewardship and Pastoral Care teams. Our regular midweek worship service became a Zoom worship service when the pandemic began. Much to my surprise, I became the resident expert at Zooming! Because of the lack of geographical impediments, our group is not limited by travel time. I look forward each week to the thoughtful, soul-deep conversations we share. It is here that I’ve witnessed modern-day prophets and courageous Christians who share how they’ve been disturbed and inspired by the Gospel.
What are you most looking forward to in your priestly vocation?
I am eager to pastor and companion a small congregation. I believe my priestly call dwells in the blessings of people and place: in the sacred and precious privilege of walking alongside people in the midst of life, from the beginning on through to the end.
Do you have a favorite story or moment from ministry in the past year?
I’ve been responsible for scheduling and starting our Zoom Sunday School meetings each week, between our two worship services. We have two very capable Sunday School teachers who share the teaching and distribution of activities to our young families. Each Sunday School class begins with sharing what’s going on for the young people. One little boy always shows us the “machinery” he’s playing with at the moment. His eager face as he shows us his toys is a glimpse of angels. I also happen to love seeing everyone’s “fur babies.” I get such a charge out of how dogs will bark at intruders or sit patiently on laps or cats will glide by, stepping on keyboards! I think God’s awesome humor shows up in our responses to these antics.
With COVID-19, ministry is very different than it was when you first began discerning a priestly vocation. How has the pandemic shaped your sense of call? What has been constant or sustaining throughout?
My call has always been about honoring connection with one another and with God, through listening and reflecting in relationships and in community. Our human capacity to connect, even when we’re miles apart, but hearing and sometimes seeing one another, through Zoom, has affirmed my long-held conviction that we are universally connected. It might be as much a reflection of my advanced (!) age as the pandemic, but I am much less hard on myself with expectations that I have to be a particular way or do God’s work in a certain way. COVID-19 has, amazingly, freed me to explore solutions and possibilities I might not have felt compelled to explore before.
What’s next? Where will you be serving following your ordination to the priesthood?
I’m in early conversations with a small parish where I will serve as Priest-in-Charge. This congregation has strong ties to its community and dynamic lay leadership. I look forward to worshipping and learning together.
How will you be engaging the diocese’s vision, mission, and rule of life in your priestly ministry?
Listening, for me, is the foundational underpinning of engaging our diocesean vision, mission and rule of life. I believe that in order to be able to love and heal ourselves and our world, listening, in prayer and in response, connects us in the most intimate and powerful ways to God and to one another and our world. My priestly ministry will, as best I can, reflect this.