Kym Lucas is the third female rector in a row at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, a community nestled just north of D.C.'s Dupont Circle and founded in 1894, when Connecticut Avenue was still a pasture. Lucas, a native of North Carolina and a priest for 15 years, started at St. Margaret's in January. She is married with four children.
You're new to St. Margaret's. What have you learned so far about this community and the church?
This is a very welcoming community. St. Margaret's prides itself on being a community that is willing to make space for anyone, and we are willing to work hard to do that. This is a very compassionate group of people, very passionate about things like homelessness and poverty and places of pain in our world.
At its recent General Convention, the Episcopal Church approved an official liturgy to bless same-sex unions. What's your take on this?
For churches like St. Margaret's in the Diocese of Washington, those decisions were very much appreciated. For me, I think our church has spent the last 200 years trying to live into what the apostle Paul said: "For those in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female." Those things can no longer be how we divide ourselves. And I think living into that revelation has made us ask some serious questions about some things that were for so long assumed. This year was the 40th anniversary of the decision of Loving vs. Virginia, and as a person in an interracial marriage, I can't imagine that people would assume that my marriage was not only illegal, but also somehow offensive to God. And yet that was very true when that case was being debated. So for me, the decisions of General Convention reflect the church trying to live into what it means to deal with our assumptions about race and gender identity and class in a serious way. I'm very proud of my church at convention that they were willing to tackle those things and speak honestly about them.
The convention stopped short of giving a new definition of marriage. What do you think marriage is, and do you think it has changed?
Christopher Webber called marriage "the church's Faustian bargain with the state." It has historically been a very strange place where church and state collaborate in very odd ways. I think holy matrimony is about two people committing themselves to reflecting the grace of God for each other and for their community. And surely that has changed. It has changed in that now it is legal for whites and blacks to marry, even though not always accepted. I think as our understanding of humanity evolves, our understanding of what it means to live in holy matrimony should evolve as well. Churches should definitely have a voice in this. But I'm all for it. I think marriage (done well) is a good thing.
At your core, what is one of your defining beliefs?
One of my defining beliefs is that God is love. To know love is to know God in some way --real, sacrificial, committed, loyal love. And that's what draws me to church and community --the recognition that God is love and calls us to love in our life.
- Liz Essley