For the second time, Father Bill Nesbit is serving at Grace Episcopal Church.
However, his current service may last longer than his previous stint.
Nesbit first came to the Jefferson City church from the Chicago area to serve as an interim priest after a resignation.
That service lasted a year and a half — a little longer than the normal interim designation — but the church was eventually able to land Father Ian Lasch as its permanent lead.
Unfortunately for the congregation, a good thing happened for the Lasch family, when Ian Lasch’s wife, the Rev. Loren Lasch, was selected to act as Canon to the Ordinary for Bishop Frank Logue of the Diocese of Georgia.
Canon to the Ordinary is a senior priest who works directly for the bishop.
“It was quite an opportunity for a young clergy person,” Nesbit said. “After some prayer and thought, they decided they would do that.”
But, it again left the Episcopal Church with an opening in Jefferson City.
“That kind of triggered the idea of doing the priest-in-charge model,” he said.
There continued to be the need for work Nesbit had done when he was previously here, he said.
“The executive assistant of the bishop from the Diocese of Missouri gave me a call and said, ‘We know you had a good time.’ Would you consider coming down as their priest in charge?’” Nesbit said.
A priest in charge usually serves for about two years. At the end of the two years, there is a no-fault decision — the church and pastor decide whether it’s a good fit or not, Nesbit said.
If a good fit, that priest in charge becomes the rector (senior pastor).
Since leaving Missouri the first time, Nesbit has served in two other parishes. That makes it difficult to remember all the parishioners, he said.
The church held a welcome celebration in a park in October.
That was the last time it held a face-to-face worship.
Right now, worship is done online or with Facebook Live.
It’s been a challenge, he said.
A student of history, Nesbit said he looked back at church records from the 1918 pandemic. At that time, the church continued to hold in-person worship services but with very few people attending, he said.
One of Nesbit’s jobs is to bring hope during this situation, he said.
“You want to tell the truth. You want to give them hope,” Nesbit said. “It has been interesting to be able to say to folks, ‘We’ve done this before. We did it by being faithful and being safe.’”