Church of Our Saviour at Mission Farm recently announced
the selection of Lee Alison Crawford as the new
Church of our Saviour at Mission Farm recently announced the
selection of their new priest, the Reverend Canon Lee Alison
Crawford, Vicar. The announcement is exciting, but not surprising.
Crawford has been conducting Sunday services as a substitute pastor
for the church since last November after Diane Root retired.
"Lee Crawford is incredibly giving of her time, invested in our
church and our community and we are so incredibly lucky to have
her," said Pat Kent, a member of the church's executive committee
who helped with her selection.
Crawford looks at home at Mission Farm, with her long silver and
brown hair she wears in a thick braid, a clerical collar and a warm
"Vermont is where I feel most at home," she said last Thursday,
explaining that she has been coming to visit Vermont since she was
5-years-old and learned to ski at Mount Tom, Woodstock. She joined
the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont nearly 20 years ago, spending most
of that time at Northfield and Rutland churches. This is her first
time living in Killington, however. "It's nice to get to know in
depth a place I've known for a very long time," she said of the
past five months.
Crawford and her partner, Anne Brown, who books the guesthouse
and is also licensed to preach in Vermont; both live on-site at
Mission Farm. They met at General Theological Seminary in Manhattan
and have been together for the past 23 years. They celebrated their
holy union at Church of our Saviour at Mission Farm in 2000.
"There is lots of energy the two of us can provide," said
Crawford and Brown have been involved in church services
together at a "wider level" beyond the Vermont Diocese. The
Episcopal Church is in 16 countries and they have done work in
Haiti and El Salvador, in addition to various areas throughout
America, Crawford said.
Prior to ordination into the Episcopal Diocese, Crawford taught
French and Spanish language. She has a PhD in Medieval French
Language and Literature and is trilingual (speaking fluent French,
Spanish and English.) She hopes to use these skills as well during
her tenure at Mission Farm to connect with seasonal employees at
Killington. "When you are hurting you always revert to your
language of origin," Crawford says.
Outside the church, Crawford and Brown enjoy long walks. They
completed the 272-mile Long Trail in 2010 (which coincided with the
trail's 100th anniversary) and walked Spain's 960-mile El Camino de
Santiago ("The Way of St. James") over four springs, 2004-2007.
This winter they enjoyed volunteering together as Mountain
Ambassadors for Killington Resort.
ROLE OF A PRIEST
When asked what it means to her to be a priest, Crawford quoted
Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsay, author of The Christian
Priest Today. A priest, he says, is "a person of prayer always with
the people of God on his [or her] heart." Crawford says she likes
this definition because it is all encompassing. Being a priest is
"who I am as a person, not just who I am on Sunday or who I am when
I'm when I'm 'working' in the church," she says. Adding, this way
of life, a life of prayer and service, is also the focus of the
The Episcopal Church recognizes the Image of God in every
person, she says. The Episcopal Church teaches, along with Judaism
and Islam, the other faiths of Abraham, that the highest value is
loving God and loving your neighbor (this comes from the Shema in
the Book of Deuteronomy.) This focus, Crawford explains, is not
exclusive to the Episcopal expression of Christianity or even to
Christianity. "When you boil down any faith tradition, it really
comes down to that: Loving God and your neighbor as
Seeing God in everybody, is "why we act with loving kindness," she
adds. "We look for the good in others. We are all made in the image
of God and we are fundamentally good as human beings… we just,
sometimes, do stupid things… Jesus was always talking with the
margins of society, he set a good example for us all to follow,"
MISSION FARM CHURCH & RETREAT
"There is a healthy and lively congregation, with a common vision
of providing hospitality on many levels," said Crawford.
The guesthouse, of course, provides hospitality to individuals and
non-profit groups looking "to take 'time apart' for fellowship,
community- building, recreation, reflection, prayer, study and
spiritual renewal," states a church brochure.
Crawford says the entirety of Mission Farm is truly a "place of
prayer," pointing to the flowers, the 170 acres of land, the barn,
the river, the view of the Skyeship gondola, the wholesale bakery,
the walking trails, and the church, whose doors are always open for
prayer, meditation, or simply to provide a quiet space for anyone
in the community to sit.
"It is a blessing to live in a place of such beauty," she says
and hopes to honor that by becoming "exemplar for the community"
with regards to stewardship of the Earth. Crawford has many ideas
for how to do this, some include exploring the possibility of
renewable energy sources and re-imagining the farm, possibly
re-creating the garden labyrinth that Diane Root once had.
Crawford is excited to continue the ongoing work with the trail
system, concerts, and community celebrations in partnership with
Killington town and resort. The Church has great acoustics,
Crawford says, and is currently the rain site for Sherburne Library
Crawford would also like to see Mission Farm become a retreat
center, with guided meditation walks and to utilize the guesthouse
for 1-2 day quiet retreats.
She hopes this may be a way to incorporate the "nones," which
she defines as those in the community "not connected to a formal
expression of religion but with a deep spiritual desire." The
Episcopal tradition offers an easy entry for everyone to take part
in religion, she says. "There is flexibility but framework in
Episcopal liturgy; it is predictable and familiar, but there is
also space for people to enter into mystery. I think there is a
hunger for that… people want to connect with the divine, with the
holy," she says.
Additionally, Episcopalians offer 'both/and' thinking," she says.
This "allows room for ambiguity, entering into the grey areas… we
encourage everyone to ask questions and we often wrestle with the
'big ones,'" she says.
Through her visions for the church and work as a priest,
Crawford hopes to make religion relevant and accessible to everyone
not just the congregation inside the church.
Every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. - Everyone is welcome to take part in the
celebration of Holy Communion.
Sunday, May 5 - The church will perform a symbolic "Blessing of the
crops." Everyone is invited to bring plants or seeds for a
blessing. People are welcome to attend the 9:30 service or arrive
about 10:30 for the blessing.
Friday, June 14 at 6 p.m.- Join in for a Celebration of a New
Season of Ministry and street party. Bishop Thomas Ely will be
there for a formal welcoming of the Reverend Canon Lee Alison
Tuesday, June 12 - Crawford celebrates the 20th anniversary of her
Photo by Anne Brown