The Very Rev. Jack C. Potter is exploring the Salt Lake area, trying to discover the pockets of need and the concerns of his congregation.
During his 10 years as record of Grace Episcopal Church in Tucson, Ariz., he was deeply involved in a social ministry, working with prenatal clinics, feeding programs and in all ways "very much concerned for the welfare of the dispossessed of the community."He knows there is an important kind of ministry to do here in terms of the core city. But who's in need and who's already helping out are two questions he is just beginning to answer.
His ministry in Utah is only a few days old. Last Sunday, he was installed as dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Mark, 231 E. 100 South. The Rev. Potter replaces the Very Rev. William F. Maxwell, who retired in November.
The cathedral is the official seat of the Right Rev. George E. Bates, bishop of Utah. While he holds the title of rector of the cathedral, Rev. Potter holds responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the cathedral and the congregation.
"I'm the caretaker, I guess you'd say," Rev. Potter said. "I have responsibility for the administration and many of the services, although it's all the bishop's prerogative."
The Rev. Potter will begin his ministerial duties Jan. 13, when he initiates a six-week liturgical study series at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday.
"We Anglicans are a strange breed of cats," the Rev. Potter said. "We don't have a confessional statement like the Lutherans or Presbyterians. We have a doctrine, but not like Catholics think of doctrine. We are a liturgical, rather than confessional church. Our belief system gets expressed in our worship. It gets acted out on a Sunday-by-Sunday basis."
Because members of St. Mark's come from diverse and frequently non-Anglican backgrounds, the Rev. Potter hopes to give members a historical perspective on the beginning of the liturgy and its evolution to the current form, which was revised in 1976.
The first session will center on the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, the first "fixed" prayer book, which was compiled by Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Although the book was only used for three years, it set the form for a liturgical tradition that has endured to the present.
The book was written in English, instead of the more-traditional Latin, which brought it closer to the common churchgoer but made some people uncomfortable. That was important, according to the Rev. Potter.
"I hope we will be able to understand liturgy as a living, moving part of our existence, reflective of our lives. It's how we express our lives in the language of prayer. And because it is living, it needs to be reflective of who we are and the idiom of our lives, written in a language that has meaning to us and isn't stilted or archaic."
Next, the series will study the 1662 restoration prayer book, which was the official book of the Church of England and which embodies much of the reformation movement as it finally came to England. It was a form of puritanism, according to the reverend, and "the holy table was divested of hangings, candles and ornate ornaments."
The Jan. 27 session will focus on the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, the American prayer book that "many of us cut our teeth on." Potter said this book amounted to a "watershed in our own (Episcopalian) liturgical development."
The final three sessions will focus on three modern, foreign rites. The Canadian Rite, the Native American Rite and the New Rite for the Church of the Province of the West Indies. Study of these rites shows how the church is "trying to make liturgies that are indigenous to cultures," the Rev. Potter said. These three rites are very reflective of the idiom of the people they serve. The Native American rite, for instance, combines Native American spirituality within a traditional Episcopalian framework."