Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe will ordain Lynne A. Walton of New Berlin, New York to the Sacred Order of Deacons on the Feast of St. Barnabas, this Saturday, June 11th at 10:00 a.m. All are welcome to attend the celebratory service either in-person at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Norwich or online via live-stream. Details of the service are available at cnyepiscopal.org/ordination-walton.
We recently interviewed Lynne via email as she prepares for her new ministry as a deacon 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.
Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, in your divine providence you have appointed various orders in your Church: Give your grace, we humbly pray, to all who are called to any office and ministry for your people; and so fill them with the truth of your doctrine and clothe them with holiness of life, that they may faithfully serve before you, to the glory of your great Name and for the benefit of your holy Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 256)
Can you tell us about your background?
I grew up in the small town of New Berlin where my Dad ran the bowling alley, my Mom was the school nurse, and my grandmother the mayor. I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian and I was lucky enough to get into Cornell. However, my science training took me on another path to being a Certified Industrial Hygienist with the Procter & Gamble Company. My work was all about helping and protecting people at work, and it also included looking into issues that might affect them from non-work exposures. Listening to people tell their stories and working with them to find ways to make their job easier and safer definitely was a start to my deacon training.
What inspired you to enter into discernment for ordained ministry? What was the discernment process like for you, and how has your sense of call developed?
I had been involved with the Episcopal Church my whole life and loved the choir, healing prayer team, lector and lay eucharistic roles. As I approached retirement, my desire to learn more and do more within the Church became more and more of a focus in my life. When my family moved back to New Berlin, I was eager to work with the Rev. Charles Taylor to help build up the small rural churches in our area and he got me into a new training program in Rochester. The Diocese of Central New York was looking at this program as a training plan for deacons, so I was interviewed about it. Two of my classmates are now deacons in the Diocese of Rochester.
I loved all the classes, though a few were tough while I was caring for my mother at her home in hospice care. With guidance from Fr. Taylor and Bishop Skip Adams [Bishop Adams served from 2001-2016—ed.], I went on to take Clinical Pastoral Education at Upstate Medical and Chenango Leadership to learn all about the agencies in our local area. By then I was volunteering at Emmanuel for their Mission Outreach program, which has really helped form me for ministry as a deacon. Since then, I’ve continued to prepare for ordination with the support of the Rev. Steve White, Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe, and the Rev. Megan Castellan, with whom I recently completed an internship at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ithaca.
You’ve been the Outreach Coordinator for Emmanuel Church for a long time. Can you tell us about that ministry?
As the Outreach Coordinator for Emmanuel Church I use church funds and obtain grants to provide payments for local families for utility bills, heating assistance, some prescription co-pays, and gas vouchers. After a year of volunteering to help the church secretary with the cases, I took over and revamped the process, setting up office hours and coordinating with other churches and county agencies. Emmanuel decided to put me on as staff so they could also call on me to back up the secretary. For ten years I have been building a network with all the support agencies so that even though our church program cannot provide money for all problems, I can usually find resources for families when they call for help. I hear the desperation, fear, anger, and hurt in their voices. So often there are tears and sometimes cursing, but I offer a calm, reassuring tone. I promise to listen to them. I promise to keep everything confidential. They may not realize how much I am praying while I listen, but God seems to be there with me. I consider this my pastoral care, my deacon work.
Where will you be serving following your ordination?
I will be serving St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in New Hartford with the Rev. Kathlyn Schofield starting June 19, 2022. I will help serve at the church on Sundays for their 10:00 a.m. worship service. I also hope to learn from the St. Stephen’s congregation what needs and desires they have for their community. The first event I am looking forward to is their rummage and bake sale. I will still be on staff during the week at Emmanuel for the Mission Outreach program in Chenango County.