On Trinity Sunday, the Rt. Rev. Terry Allen White, VIII Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky, celebrated the Holy Eucharist at Trinity Episcopal Church. I was presented to the bishop by the wardens of the parish. Bishop White then inducted me as rector of the parish. Thank you for making Trinity Sunday 2019 an especially solemn one for me and my family. Facing the altar with you during the service, I knelt and prayed:
“O Lord my God, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; yet you have called your servant to stand in your house, and to serve at your altar. To you and to your service I devote myself, body, soul, and spirit. Fill my memory with the record of your mighty works; enlighten my understanding with the light of your Holy Spirit; and may all the desires of my heart and will center in what you would have me do. Make me an instrument of your salvation for the people entrusted to my care, and grant that I may faithfully administer your holy Sacraments, and by my life and teaching set forth your true and living Word. Be always with me in carrying out the duties of my ministry. In prayer, quicken my devotion; in praises, heighten my love and gratitude; in preaching, give me readiness of thought and expression; and grant that, by the clearness and brightness of your holy Word, all the world may be drawn into your blessed kingdom. All this I ask for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.”
This prayer of self-dedication is an original composition by the Rev. William Smith (1754 -1821). Born in Scotland, Smith studied at the University of Aberdeen before traveling across the Atlantic Ocean as a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church. He served as minister in parishes in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Rhode Island. Smith was a leader in the organization of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island in 1790. From 1797 until 1800, he was rector of St. Paul’s Church in Norwalk, Connecticut. While there, Smith wrote the “Office of Institution of Ministers.” It was adopted by the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut and then sent to the 1804 General Convention, which approved it. The 1808 General Convention made slight alternations to it and included it in the Book of Common Prayer, where it has remained with modifications ever since.
Smith’s prayer of self-dedication begins with an allusion to Matthew 8:8, when the centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.” One of the prayers I say while preparing the altar for us on Sunday mornings is “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” I pray that all of us come to the faith of the centurion and I thank you for the opportunity to serve as rector of Trinity Episcopal Church.
-Fr. David Carletta