Announcement from the Personnel Committee
Beloved Colleagues of Albany Presbytery,
On behalf of the Personnel Committee I am overjoyed to share with you that the Rev. Beth Illingworth has agreed to assume the position of Temporary Chaplain! Beth has the gifts and skills necessary to more than fulfill this role, and we are thankful for her willingness to serve in this capacity of offering care and connections for our ministers and commissioned elders.
Joy and Peace,
From the Rev. Beth Illingworth
I greet you as the new Chaplain for the Albany Presbytery. This position is, of course, temporary, as the Staffing Task Force completes its work and a search is undertaken to call a General Presbyter. I feel quite privileged, however, to have this opportunity, if only for a while. I have been a member of the Albany Presbytery for almost thirty years. (Goodness!) In all that time I have had the desire to connect with my colleagues in ministry in a more meaningful way. Some of you have been my dear friends, but many of you I see only briefly and sporadically at Presbytery meetings. I know very little about your lives and your ministries. There are also some of you I don’t know at all. How wonderful to have the responsibility as chaplain of spending more time with you!
Since many of you don’t know my story, I’ll share a little of my background. After graduating from Harvard Divinity School, I moved to this area to be with my new husband, Paul Greene, who was working here in the Capital District. I was under care of Boston Presbytery. My father, the Rev. Lynn Illingworth, was also a member of the Boston Presbytery, having served as the pastor of the Needham Presbyterian Church for most of my childhood.
By a circuitous path I was called as the Designated Pastor of the Oakwood Avenue Presbyterian Church. I adored this ministry and the people in the church. As the congregation taught me how to be a minister, we wrestled with big concerns. We did the hard work of talking about race and racism as an interracial congregation. We supported a neighborhood that struggled on the margins of society, especially by providing programs for the children. We supported the work of TAUM at the height of the AIDS epidemic by providing a space for the Damien Center. A few years after finishing my ministry with Oakwood, I worked with others in the Presbytery to help the congregation make the difficult decision to close and become a new creation, the Oakwood Community Center.
Following my time at Oakwood, I began a fifteen year ministry as the Campus Minister (Protestant Chaplain) for TAUM at Russell Sage College and RPI. In this calling I learned how to create a life-giving ministry while wandering in the spiritual desert of the academic world. I learned how to be with a generation of students that knows very little about religion, even the religious traditions of their parents and grandparents. I was pleased to accompany these young seekers as they explored their beliefs and expressed their faith in personal and honest ways. I worked with students, staff and faculty on a range of issues. We focused on interfaith dialogue between Christians, Jews and Muslims after 9/11. We addressed issues around gender identity and sexual orientation for a new generation. We provided programs to support veterans returning home from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In this midst of all this I also created opportunities for the students to walk the labyrinth and participate in guided meditations to help release the stress of academic life.
My husband Paul and I have two children. Our daughter, Julian, lives and works in New York City. Our son, Isaiah, is in his last year at Boston College. For the past twenty years we’ve lived in the Village of Kinderhook, north of Hudson. For much of that time we’ve participated in the life of St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church. This caring congregation has been especially supportive of me and my family through my long struggle with late-stage Lyme disease. For many months I served as their temporary supply pastor, before the Session chose Lynn Horan as their very able interim minister.
Recently I completed a two year certification program in spiritual direction through the Haden Institute. I wanted to develop and deepen my skills in accompanying others on their spiritual journeys. Through the Haden institute I was also introduced to Jungian psychology. I learned more about dream analysis and I studied the mysterious writings of the Christian mystics. I valued the opportunity to explore my inner world even as I navigate the outer world.
I hope to bring all of this experience and learning to my work among you as Chaplain in the months ahead. Please feel free to be in touch with me if you need support in any way. As you strive to keep your balance while juggling the demands of parish ministry, as you work for healthy boundaries between your personal life and your church responsibilities, as you continue on your spiritual journey even as you guide others in theirs, know that I am here to listen, reflect and pray with you. I will also be working with the Pastoral Care Team, the Committee on Ministry and Congregations and the Koinonia Team to care for our clergy and commissioned elders and to create a more welcoming and collegial presbytery.
Blessings and Peace,
You can reach Beth through her email address at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can find her personal contact information in the Albany Presbytery Directory.