Everyday Adventures: The Rev. Victoria Geer McGrath
In spring 2018, the Evangelism Office of The Episcopal Church created the Episcopal Evangelists Facebook group. It was born from the desire to begin connecting evangelists - young and old, novice and experienced - across the Church.
Here on the Evangelism blog, we will be sharing stories from the Facebook group—stories we think can help others in their ministry of sharing the Good News—and hearing their stories of Adventures in Evangelism. Today’s story comes from the Rev. Victoria Geer McGrath. Vicki is the rector at All Saints’ Church, Millington, N.J., in the Diocese of Newark. She has also served parishes in Short Hills and Glen Rock, N.J.
Why Do You Practice Evangelism?
My relationship with God has always been central to who I am. I felt called to ordained ministry when I was 16, but it took me a good number of years and a variety of experiences before I was ready to answer that call.
An important milestone in my call was encountering Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news.” In college, I thought that was about a call to preach, but in the last year, I have come to see that it was also a call to be an evangelist…hiding there in plain sight! There are so many places in which God’s good news in and through Jesus needs to be shared with love with people who are suffering, and in a world where words of truth, meaning, compassion, new life, and God’s great love for all whom God has made are often drowned out by anger, cynicism, materialism, and exhaustion. Learning to tell the story of Jesus anew is both exciting and challenging.
I was driving back to church after a lengthy off-site meeting. It was past the lunch hour and I was anxious to get back to the office, so I thought I'd stop at a deli I knew one town away from the church and get some soup for take-out. The cashier was a young man. My soup was $5.34. I gave him a $20 bill and 34 cents. He thanked me for making it easy for him to make change, saying that he was tired. I asked him if he had an early start to his day, and he said no, but he had a lot on his mind that was keeping him up at night.
We chatted a little more and I found out that he was 20 years old, a new Army recruit who was shipping out January 2 for training, had a grandparent in hospice, was trying to stay connected to his friends, and was working 7 days a week.
I asked if he’d like me to pray for him, and he said yes. I offered to pray right then. We held hands across the counter and prayed – for him to know that God would be with him in this training course, for his grandparent’s health, for peace of heart and mind about leaving home and those he cares about, and an assurance that God is with him always. Then he told me that his family goes to a nearby Catholic Church that had been very good to his family when they were going through some hard times. But because he's working so much, he rarely gets to go to church, though he was looking forward to being there on Christmas Eve. And then he expressed gratitude for the couple who owns the deli, whom he said looked after him. The wife of the couple came into the conversation at this point and was reassuring to him. So, I said I was glad he had good friends, and that he could certainly pray and stay in touch with God anywhere. His employer agreed.
With all this, I was further delayed getting back to work, but I realized that I was right where the Holy Spirit wanted me - the timing was right because the deli wasn't busy. Thanks be to God.
(P.S.: The soup was delicious!)
Questions for Reflection
1. What words or actions of Jesus’ can help remove anger, cynicism, materialism, and exhaustion?
2. Often we might rush through our day, never taking the time to engage with those around us - especially in public places. A simple exchange with a cashier eventually led to an opportunity for prayer. For you, what is exciting or challenging about this exchange? What can you learn?
The Rev. Victoria Geer McGrath is the rector at All Saints’ Church, Millington, N.J. in the Diocese of Newark. Originally from New York State, she was involved in Girl Scouts, church choir, camping, and musical theater. She has a background in Medieval Studies and Historical Musicology. Before going to seminary, Vicki and her family spent two and a half years in Japan, with summers at a missionary camp in the mountains. She is married to John, and they have two grown children. Her hobbies include reading, knitting, singing, family history, and spending time at the beach in Rhode Island.
How are you seeking, naming and celebrating Jesus’ loving presence and inviting other folks to discover that goodness for themselves? Tell us HERE! The Episcopal Evangelists Facebook group is a gathering space for Episcopal Evangelists to ask questions, share resources, and encourage each other around the practice of sharing the Good News. To that end, we respectfully ask that you limit your post here to questions, ideas, events, prayers, memes, links, and stories, that can help the wider church learn about and practice joyful and faithful evangelism! By providing a place to share stories, ask questions, and trade resources, we hope that the Episcopal Evangelists group will be a place of learning and growing together, as we share our gifts of imagination and experience and tell out the Gospel wherever we find ourselves.