New Rector

Dear friends of the Church of the Incarnation,

The Wardens and Vestry of the Church of the Incarnation, Santa Rosa, are pleased to announce the appointment of The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver, as rector. This appointment is the successful culmination of the prayerful, engaging, spirit-filled work of many in the parish who served on the Profile Committee, Applicant Review Committee and Vestry. This was a yearlong process which attracted many excellent applicants from across the country.

In our profile we wrote that we were looking for a rector who was spiritually alive and grounded in prayer; open-minded and pastoral; theologically intelligent, with a deep appreciation for Episcopal tradition, liturgy, ritual, and the important role music plays in our worship.

We sought a thoughtful preacher whose inspirational sermons touch hearts, connect with our lives and challenge us; a gentle teacher of insightful theology who is well read and curious, with a sense of humor.

Stephen certainly embodies these attributes and we are very excited about the bright future of Incarnation.

We thank each of you for your prayers and support during this process: we are grateful for your voices in the profile process, your commitment to this church and your faithful presence each week as we worship and serve together.

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Stephen’s biography

The Rev. Dr. Stephen Shaver comes to us from Berkeley, where he currently teaches liturgical leadership at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Stephen has served parishes in California, Washington State, and Texas and also spent time as a hospital and hospice chaplain. In 2012 he came to Berkeley to work on a Ph.D. in liturgy, which he completed last fall. He received his M.Div. from the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in 2007.

Stephen is no stranger to the Diocese of Northern California, having served for several years as a trainer for our diocesan College for Congregational Development and as co-director of a joint version of the program with the Diocese of California in 2015-16. Along with liturgy, Stephen is passionate about congregational health and vitality. He has led Christian formation programs for children, youth, and adults, and loves helping people learn more about where God’s story intersects with their stories. Many of his sermons, and occasional blog posts, can be found on his website at www.prayerbookcatholic.org.

Stephen’s family roots are largely in the Reno-Tahoe area, and he thinks of himself as a West Coaster at heart. He spent much of his childhood as a “third culture kid,” living with his family in Korea, Pakistan, and Russia. Stephen loves traveling, hiking, running, and cooking and is an avid choral singer (he and his wife Julia met in their college choir). Julia is originally from Palo Alto and is a family physician. They have a two-year-old daughter, Abigail, who loves playgrounds, fire trucks, and cheese.

Stephen, Julia, and Abby will be joining us early in the summer after Stephen completes his teaching obligations at CDSP. They are thrilled to be coming to Santa Rosa and to Incarnation.

Steve Layton
Sr. Warden

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A letter from Stephen

Dear friends,

Grace and peace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ!

I am delighted and humbled to be called as your next rector. My heart is full of joy and anticipation, and I can’t wait to join you in ministry. I’m deeply grateful to the profile and review committees and to the vestry for their dedication and hospitality during the call process. Their devoted work on your behalf is a testament to the kind of community you are.

Incarnation is a special place. Your jewel of a building stands at the heart of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County, and your beautiful, transcendent worship stands at the heart of your life together. That worship doesn’t stay inside the building, though: it spills over outside the walls to bless the entire community around you. Your heart for outreach is obvious in ministries like the Open Table and the Incarnation 100-and, profoundly, in the way you have come together to care for those who have lost so much in the fires this past fall. There is an incredible spirit of vitality and resilience at Incarnation, one that has carried you through flourishing and challenging times alike. You have done wonderful work in these years of transition, and I’m looking forward to the adventures God will send us as we start this new chapter together.

It will be a few months before I’m able to be with you in person, but I am praying for you all, every day, by name (and by picture, thanks to Steve Layton, who gave me a copy of your most recent photo directory!). Please pray for me too, and for Julia and Abigail, as we prepare to move to Santa Rosa to come share life with you.

God bless you all. See you soon.
In Christ’s love,
Stephen