Cathedral Characters: A Seminarian for the People

Originally baptized at St. Paul’s as an infant and currently a member of St. David’s in Clairemont, Martha Anderson (Bywater) is our Cathedral’s seminarian intern. She handles Peace and Justice concerns, organizes forums and helps out wherever she is needed as she prepares for ordination to the diaconate this spring. Spirited and kind, Martha is open hearted and never turns down an opportunity to help, or to listen. She’s leading the mandala project at this Sunday’s 9:00 a.m. forum, so if you haven’t met her and would like to, this is your chance! All are welcome and encouraged to attend her ordination service on Saturday, April 9 at 10:00 a.m. to help support her as she begins a life of ordained ministry.

1. Tell me about a meaningful community experience you have had at St. Paul’s Cathedral:
Last fall, I was a small group leader for the Spiritual Autobiography series. I did not know any of the members of my group before the series began. Yet by the end of the series, we all shared tremendous trust. The group has stayed in touch and remained supportive of each other over the past six months in our life journeys and in our various ministries. It has been wonderful.

2. What kinds of things do you do to draw closer to God or God’s people?
Closeness to God occurs for me in private prayer and with other people. My favorite personal spiritual practice is engaging in lectio divina. There is always a word or phrase in Scripture that the Holy Spirit nudges me to explore in prayer. “God’s people” to me are all of humanity. Drawing closer to people in general brings me closer to God – it is in relationship that I experience the endless ways that God reveals God’s self to me in ways I can understand. I am constantly moving between the two poles of time “alone” with God and “time with others” with God because they are both key to living my life as a faithful Christian.

3. What is a book/film/song you think everyone should read/see/hear and why?
This is a tough question for me. Different books, films, and songs have been pivotal in different times of my life, and there are so many good ones! One book that has continued to speak to me over the years is Joan Chittester, O.S.B.’s Wisdom Distilled From the Daily. The book works especially well for Episcopalians because of our monastic roots. In the book, she brings the Rule of Benedict into language that everyone can understand and apply in everyday life. She gives ideas for bridging monastic ideals and wisdom with the reality of our postmodern, stressful lives. It’s easy to read, which is equally important, because nobody I know has time to sit down and read a tome!

4. The most important work the church can do:

To keep reminding us that the reason the church exists is to be a healing and reconciling presence in the world. We must be agile enough to move with the needs of the world as they change, remain engaged with the world, and be a source of hope.

5. Anything else you would like to add about your life at St. Paul’s Cathedral?
St. Paul’s is a wonderful example of how the church can be responsive to the changing needs of the world and committed to addressing those needs. The faithfulness of its members is evident throughout the life of the Cathedral internally and in relation to the greater San Diego community. I’m blessed to be a seminarian intern here!

Hannah Wilder writes Cathedral Characters, an occasional series about people in the Cathedral community. If there’s someone you’d like to hear about, drop a note for Hannah in the comments!

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