Cape Region Episcopal Parish welcomes Mother Lara StroudStroud is first full-time assistant rector for All Saints', St. George's
Special to the Cape Gazette — The Episcopal Parish of All Saints’ Church in Rehoboth Beach and St. George’s Chapel in Harbeson is making history, and her name is Mother Lara S. Stroud.
The first full-time assistant rector in its history for both church and chapel, Stroud came to this area from a church in Omaha, Neb. Only 30 years old and slightly over five feet tall, the new young priest is winning over the hearts and minds of the two congregations.
“People call male priests Father out of respect for the title and the person,” she said. “Female priests and clergy can be called Mother (Mtr.)” This is something she and parish rector Father Max Wolf worked out before her employment.
“At the seminary [Virginia Theological Seminary], half of each class is now women at any given time,” she said. “I am following in the footsteps of other women Episcopal priests in leadership roles.”
Mother Lara (pronounced Laura) was born in Birmingham, Ala., and later lived in east Tennessee. Then the family moved to Boone, N.C. Both her parents are physicians.
She graduated with a music therapy degree from Appalachian State University in Boone in 2007. Her favorite musical instrument is the guitar. “My father plays the guitar,” she said, “and my mother plays the piano.” She and her two sisters and brother and their parents have been a singing family for years.
After college graduation, Mother Lara took on a seven-month internship in palliative (end of life) care in the Bronx, N.Y., at Calvary Hospital where she helped encourage and comfort patients, sometimes playing the guitar and singing with them. She returned to North Carolina, where she became board certified in her field of music therapy.
Then she took an Episcopal internship for young adults opportunity and went to Omaha, where she worked with youth in after-school programs, tutoring in math and reading, and occasionally bringing her guitar to school to sing with the children. She also worked 20 hours a week in a church, learning about theology and discerning what she wanted to do with her life. The internship program is called The Episcopal Service Corps.
While working in Omaha, Mother Lara felt the call to become a priest. Her church hired her to become a youth and young adult minister. In fall 2009, Mother Lara began her studies at Virginia Theological Seminary. She was first ordained a deacon, and at the end of a five-year process, she was ordained an Episcopal priest in 2012.
Newly married, Mother Lara’s husband, Daniel, is also finishing his studies at the seminary to become a priest. They met at the Virginia seminary and will make their home in Lewes.
Mother Lara began her work in Delaware in early September, and she was married at the Virginia seminary Oct. 12. She impressed many with her ability to plan a wedding, move and start a new job in the same time frame!
Right now, Stroud is busy learning names, and matching names and faces. Since there is both a church and a chapel in the parish, and she will alternate between the two for services, she has a challenging task but is quickly catching on.
Mother Lara is now working with the parish youth group and doing communions on visits to hospital patients, along with other work. “I was there when she sang ‘Amazing Grace’ for a very ill patient at the patient’s request,” said Wolf. “The patient was so comforted.”
“The people in the parish and the community are friendly,” Mother Lara said. She gets good feedback on her sermons or homilies and works on her laptop computer to prepare them. “Daniel and I critique each other’s sermons,” she said.
Wolf said, “We are so blessed by the energetic spirit and fresh insights that Mother Lara brings to her ministry. She has jumped in with both feet, sharing equally in the many tasks of our busy parish and our work in the wider community. She sang beautifully at our recent Gospel Jazz Mass and is a hit with our youth group. Her compassionate presence in home communions and hospital visits is remarked upon. She will help serve people of all ages here.”
Stroud may be reached through the All Saints’ office at 302-227-7202.