Good Shepherd Episcopal Church has a new priest-in-charge as the Rev. M. Edwin Beckham preach his first sermon this Sunday at both the 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services and preside over the Holy Eucharist.
Beckham, 44, comes to Good Shepherd from Emmanuel parish in Athens, where he supervised youth and young adult ministries while sharing liturgical, preaching, teaching and pastoral responsibilities with other clergy staff.
Beckham was ordained in 2008 at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, after having attended The (Episcopal) Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. He previously worked in software training and documentation and, earlier, pursued graduate studies in U.S. Civil Rights History with the goal of becoming a college history professor. Instead, the ministry called to him.
“I was looking for a calling and not just a job, and it forced me to get serious about the things I felt most passionate about, most of which were centered in the church or aligned with the Christian values of hospitality, relationship, and reconciliation,” he said.
During the selection process that brought Beckham to Covington, he visited the town on several occasions. He called it a “beautiful, classic Southern town …with a strong sense of community.”
The search committee from Good Shepherd conveyed “a real sense of excitement and possibility,” he said, and “a desire to take a decisive role in the Christian community” in Covington, and pride in the role Good Shepherd plays in training many seminarians.
His stated ministry objective was “to be called, after mutual discernment, as rector or Priest-in-Charge of a vital, outward-looking parish, one desiring a servant leader eager to accompany the community on its next phase of the pilgrim journey, the journey of living more fully into Christ’s reconciling mission in the world, with an expectation of growth for all in sacramental living, discipleship, holiness and hospitality.”
His work with youth and young adults at the Athens parish has convinced him that, while young people are pulled in many different directions by our culture, “they still appreciate the grounding and integrity that can come from a faith environment. They are searching for something real, something deeply meaningful, and the church needs to be seeking opportunities to help them find what they are searching for.”
They also want to fully participate in church, and not just be “talked to,” he added.
Beckham embraces social media in his ministry. He can be found on Facebook and on Twitter and blogs at pilgrimofsorts.blogspot.com. He blogs about “the interface between faith/church and culture” and “theology in everyday life.”
Outside of ministry, Beckham is passionate about music – from The Clash to the Chieftains, U2 to Hildegaard von Bingen, Woody Guthrie to Aaron Copeland and R.E.M. to John Tavener. When he gets downtime, he can be found playing tennis – usually with wife Laura; reading, and occasionally brewing his own beer. He also loves canoe-camping and says he’s looking forward to getting out on the Yellow River in Porterdale.
“I look forward to getting to know the parishioners and vestry at Good Shepherd, and I’m excited about coming together to meet the challenges of Christ’s church – especially for Episcopalians – at this particular moment in history,” he said.
His and his wife Laura, a high school English literature teacher, have two sons, Simon and Eliot. The Beckhams are natives of Greenville, S.C.
Good Shepherd is located at 4140 Clark St., Covington.