On the Evening of November 3, 2017, during the diocesan convention opening Eucharist, Fr. Jonathan Callison was received into The Episcopal Church, and Larry Ehren and Kary (Karen) Mann were ordained into the diaconate.
Below you can read a little bit about each of them written in their own words.
Fr. Jonathan Callison
My call to priesthood in the Episcopal Church is the story of seeds planted; some bore fruit, others may have gone awry, but God will get some harvest from me I pray! Very early in my life, I remember attending Mass with my Grandmother and praying the Rosary with her. She was a farmer and rancher from Western Kansas and a faithful communicant of St. Joseph’s Church in Ashland. She was a patient woman of prayer, compassion, and endurance. I remember, too, my experience attending Mass with my mother and siblings. We were a handful but she persevered! She took our formation in the faith seriously but also taught us to think about what we were asked to believe.
I attended Catholic schools and couldn’t wait for the day to serve Mass as an acolyte. The dedication and compassion of the priests and sisters that I came to know informed my life in ways that will be with me always. I remember asking – 2nd grade, I think- if dolphins were aware enough to be baptized. I don’t remember my pastor’s answer, but I still wonder at the incredible mercy of God, redeeming all creation. It was that sense of compassion and nurture, so strong in my rather matriarchal family that inclined my heart toward service. Others in my parish as a young man noticed my sensitivity and asked me to consider a call to the priesthood.
My years in the seminary were some of the most amazing of my life. I grew as a person and, eventually, after ordination, as a deacon and then priest. The people I ministered to formed me, and I will never forget those early lessons as a young priest. One of the lessons I learned was transparency and openness. I eventually had to come out to my bishop and share the growing concerns that I had about my sexual orientation and call to celibacy. Bishop Stanley was a loving, pastoral bishop, and he made sure I got the counseling I needed and the leave of absence to explore this new awareness of myself. I did not return to ordained ministry as he had hoped, but the seeds so many planted were not in vain. They just took a while to grow and mature.
Some years later, my partner and I were looking for a spiritual home and my sister, Heather — Yes! I notice the pattern of female evangelists in my life! — suggested the Anglican way. I have found it to be the way that I can most closely follow Jesus as a member of the Body of Christ. I will be forever grateful to the openness and love of reason, as well as Scripture and Tradition that inform our Anglican way. Chris and I were received into the Episcopal Church and have received so many blessings, especially the blessing of our marriage, surrounded by our parish family. In 2016, after much prayerful reflection with my family, my husband, and my parish family, I entered a process of discernment that culminated at the last diocesan convention.
I rejoice to serve this diocese as a presbyter of the Church, and I pray that all those seeds of mercy and compassion, planted by so many at so many times in my life, may finally bear fruit. Please pray for me as I preach, bless and preside at the Holy Sacraments.
May God be blessed Who is Compassionate and Merciful!
The Rev. Larry Ehren
My ﬁrst introduction to the Commission on Ministry was: “His is a unique situation.” To be honest, I was unsure how to understand that. Was I a stranger from a strange land, a variation of an adult mutant ninja turtle, or some other version of a church oddity? I chose to understand this as having a unique history and background in approaching ordination in The Episcopal Church.
The reality is that I was approved for ordination in the Roman Catholic Church exactly forty years ago. After ten years of education and formation in the Jesuit order, it was normal to be ordained a priest. I found myself struggling at that moment of my journey with a continued commitment to celibacy while being drawn to marriage and family life. All the while, I sensed a desire to serve in ministry. I completed my M.Div. at Boston College, and sought helpful guidance. This was a delicate moment of discernment in my life, and clearly a turning point.
Many years have passed since that time. For over ten years, I was a lay professional minister in Catholic parishes and on the Bishop’s staff here in Kansas City. I completed my MBA at Rockhurst University during that time in organizational development. My aim was to learn how the church could be more effective in its mission. I then served one year in Missouri State government, a time that clariﬁed my call to return to formal ministry. I followed good advice to pursue a year-long Clinical Pastoral Education residency, which I did in a large medical center in San Francisco. It was there that I met fellow resident chaplain Christy Dorn, now my wife. We have been married over twenty years, roughly the same time she has been an Episcopal Priest. Our marriage has included the adoption of two daughters from China. Family life and ministry seem to be my rightful path in life.
After my clinical training, I served for over twenty ﬁve years as a board certiﬁed chaplain, Vice President of Mission or Director of Chaplaincy in several medical centers. My last position was Director of Spiritual Care at Truman Medical Center, Hospital Hill in Kansas City.
On my return to Kansas City, I experienced a renewal in my own spiritual journey. Although I was involved in the Episcopal Church for many years due to Christy’s ministry, I ﬁnally sought to be formally received at Easter Vigil in our own cathedral ﬁve years ago. Dean Peter DeVeau and I facilitated the Adult Catechumenate, called ‘The Way’, for a number of years together. I pursued Anglican Studies at Bishop Kemper School for Ministry and began the ordination process. I am currently half way through my Doctor of Ministry studies in Christian Spirituality at Virginia Theological Seminary. I look forward to many years ahead as an ordained person in The Episcopal Church.
And yes — what a unique but meaningful journey it has been — and it will continue to be!
The Rev. Kary Mann
I was born and raised in Olathe, Kansas. I remember feeling called to ministry at a very young age but I was not closely affiliated with any church at that time. After graduating from high school, I left Kansas City for about 10 years. Initially, I attended Fort Hayes State University and completed my general studies requirements. While attending college I was deeply involved in youth ministry. Eventually, I returned to Kansas City and earned a Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine from the Cleveland University, Kansas City. I had my own practice for six years. During that time I began teaching biology at Colorado Technical University. This opportunity allowed me to discover that teaching was my passion. Healing and teaching, hmmm, not an accident I would say. I’m currently working as an adjunct professor of biology at Metropolitan Community College, Penn Valley.
The year was 2008 and as I was driving past St. Mary Magdalene every day to go to work I felt God nudging me toward the church and possible ministry. I began attending worship. It was the ancient liturgy that spoke to my heart. After about a year, I talked to Fr. Jason Lewis about my feeling of a call to ministry. I began an informal discernment process with Fr. Jason and Deacon Peisha, and a year later, I started the process in earnest. At that time Fr. Jason accepted a call with the Diocese of Kentucky – and I was without a sponsor and Mary Mag was without a priest. My forward progress was stalled for about six months. Finally, I asked Fr. Marshall Scott if he would be my presenting priest, and he agreed. So with support from Mtr. Virginia Brown, as my spiritual director, and Fr. Marshall as my presenting priest, I began the multiple twists and turns that would lead to ordination.
I thought I would attend Sewanee: University of the South, but God had another plan, as He called me to Bishop Kemper School for Ministry (BKSM). I was drawn to this new and potentially powerful idea of priestly formation that would allow postulants to keep their jobs while preparing to serve as bi-vocational priests that would then meet a great need in the church. I started BKSM and became a postulant. At the end of my first year I was clear as to my call, that of becoming a bi-vocational priest. I completed my studies on May 13, 2017 and was ordained a deacon on November 3, 2017. I am currently completing my transitional deaconate at St. Paul’s in Lee’s Summit. I am grateful for all the positive and powerful mentors in The Diocese of West Missouri. I feel I am in good hands. God willing, I hope to be ordained into the Sacred Order of Presbyters mid-year, 2018.