Father Johnson will begin interim service in April 2019 at Holy Trinity:
The Very Reverend Dr. Russell L. Johnson, MDiv., DMin.
Russell grew up in Jamestown, NY and, after attending the University of Rochester for one year, was awarded an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1967. Upon graduation he became an officer of Marines, USMC and, after serving as an infantry officer with combat service in Viet Nam, he was trained as a pilot by the US Navy, flying jet aircraft for nine years including three years in the VSTOL Harrier Jump Jet. In 1979, he left the service to attend the School of Theology, the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. Upon graduation in 1982, he was ordained to the Deaconate and six months later to the Priesthood. Over 27 years he served 7 different congregations, and in 2004 was elected Dean and Rector of the Cathedral of St. Peter. He retired in 2009. His wife Judith and he have four children and five grandchildren. He enjoys reading, playing at golf and “putzing” around the house. For many years both Judith and he were yearly marathon runners but now, he just chases her around the house.
Our Prior Rector and FAQ/Questions about Holy Trinity Transition:
Our Rector, Father Randy Hehr, announced his intent to retire from ministry Jan 27th, 2019, in order to spend time with his family and journey to the next phase of his life. Randy faithfully served our parish, congregation, and community for six years. You can read more about Randy’s career in ministry, and about his “Good Goodbye” service and reception.
Q: What will happen at our weekly services after January?
A: Our services will remain the same (Sundays at 8AM and 10AM, Wednesdays at 6:30PM). With recommendations and guidance from the Diocese, the Vestry has engaged temporary (or ‘supply’) priests who will officiate at services and sacraments (weddings, baptisms, funerals) for the interim period of several months.
Q: How will our sacraments be administered and will there be a gap?
A: There will be no gap. Our worship life in Christ will continue. We ask you to pray for guidance, strength, and the ability to remain open-minded and work together for the good of the church and the congregation during this time. Read Special Prayers for Holy Trinity.
Q: What happens when a Rector retires from the Episcopal Church?
A: First and foremost we have wished Randy and his wife Pam a Good Goodbye. We commemorate his service, honor their lives, bless them and celebrate Randy’s ministry. It’s as simple as that! Randy remained our beloved parish priest through January 27th, 2019. After that time, Randy is no longer in a pastoral relationship with our congregation and its members. The next priest (interim, rector, priest-in-charge, supply priest, etc.) is ordinarily expected to preside at all liturgical and pastoral functions of the church. That may be difficult for some of us to accept because of a genuine relationship we’ve enjoyed with Randy. However, we must all respect his decision and honor him at this time. It is simply not appropriate to request or expect this pastoral relationship to continue beyond Randy’s official retirement date.
Q: Now that Randy has officially notified the Bishop, our church vestry, and our congregation of his plans, what’s next?
A: The vestry is preparing for the official transition process. The vestry met with Bishop Dabney Smith and the Bishop’s Canon for Mission and Ministry, Richard Norman, and meets weekly/bi-weekly to ensure a smooth transition for the congregation. The Sr. and Jr. Wardens, who lead the vestry, worked with the Diocese to obtain supply priests who temporarily serve for a few months to provide worship and pastoral services to our parish. The Parish Survey will be conducted and the Parish Profile will be published shortly so those interested in applying for the new position have a place to inquire. This is all the official process any Episcopal Church goes through during a time of transition.
Q: I Love Randy! If he leaves, why should I stay?
A: Our parish is not the priest who presided, and it is not a building. Our church is a people organized as a community of believers. Holy Trinity has always been and especially now is a place where worshipers support one another, engage in communion with Christ and each-another, heartily welcome new members, inquirers and sojourners, and share God’s love openly. We are a welcoming, loving and serving parish in the Clearwater Deanery of the Episcopal Diocese of SW Florida. When Randy retires, this may be your chance to try something new at Holy Trinity. Get involved in a different aspect of ministry or outreach!
Q: How can I participate in the selection of a new priest?
A: The process of selecting a new minister is well-structured and requires a wide cross-section of the congregation to participate. If only a few long-time members participate in this process, how can we expect our congregation and parish to fit in with the mission field outside our walls? For this reason, we encourage diverse voices to participate in the Call Committee. The Call Committee normally consists of a vestry member or two, and 3-5 parishioners in good standing. This means they should be official members of our church to serve on the Call committee, and be devoted to see the process through and actively participate in meetings and other duties. You can read about the Search Process in our Diocese here.
Q: What are the policies and procedures of the Diocese?
A: Read them here.