Many call her Mother. Some call her Sue. She’s a retired geologist who did environmental studies at the Hanford Site Cleanup, a complex in south-central Washington State that supported the Manhattan project. Her childhood summers spent at her family’s cabin in Glacier Park, Mont. shaped her spiritual formation and choice of vocations. Her name is the Rev. Sue Price, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church’s assisting priest.
“You couldn’t see the park’s beauty and not think about a Creator,” said Price, recalling how each summer 10 families and 40 children would retreat to the park. Her father was a Presbyterian deacon and another dad was a Presbyterian minister. Every Sunday, they would hold services in “The Wildwood,” a simple clearing in the woods surrounded by wildflowers, with log seats and a hand-hewn pulpit.
She married Bill Price, a cradle Episcopalian and fellow geologist and joined the Episcopal Church. The newlywed never dreamed that someday she would be an Episcopal priest. “God certainly has a sense of humor,” said Price.
Although she was raised in the church she did not have a relationship with Jesus until her mid-30s when she seriously began to study Scripture with Bible Study Fellowship.
“Its application orientation makes you realize how relevant the Word is in the present day,” she said.
During that time she kept asking people, “How can I make Jesus relevant to my life?” Chapters 14 to 16 in the book of John, Jesus’ upper room discourse opened that up to her. Jesus told His disciples that they would not be left alone; the Holy Spirit would be with them and guide them.
“Once you know Him, your eyes are opened and you see Him and want to see Him in every aspect of your life,” said Price, of her deep relationship with the Holy Spirit.
She understood the importance of a church family and found ways to serve the rural Walla Walla area Episcopal Church. Soon, an opportunity came along to take part in Mutual Ministry, a team approach to raise up priests in underserved and rural areas without the need to go to seminary. After five years of training, she was ordained in 1999, which she did in spite of her full-time job as an environmental geologist.
Now she’s a traveling priest, a Spokane Diocese canonical resident, and is licensed to practice in the Diocese of Southwest Florida which includes Marco Island, and the Dioceses of central Florida and Montana.
“God has given so much to me that I want to give back to Him,” she said. She serves at St. Mark’s without pay, a service that began in January 2011. Soon she will return to her beloved Glacier Park cabin, where she serves a rural church, for the summer.
Mother to all
Price never had children and has gradually warmed up to being called Mother. There are priests in the Catholic faith, while Episcopal and Orthodox churches are all led by a Father. Her first instructor within Mutual Ministry was a woman priest who preferred to be called Rev. and Price adopted that practice.
As a child, Price saw a few female ministers in the pulpit; most were called Reverend. But never thought about being called Mother herself, until Price met her second female mentor who preferred the term Mother.
When Price served a Caribbean congregation in central Florida, congregants referred to her as Miss Sue. When she came to St. Mark’s, she was introduced as Rev. Sue but gradually the younger women in the congregation began to call her Mother.
“It was an indication of a relationship change,” said Price who now embraces the term, and sees herself as a Titus 2:4 woman, an older woman who teaches and sets an example for the younger woman in the church.
Women in the Church
Although the Episcopal Church began to ordain women in 1997, few woman have had priestly role models. There are currently approximately 4,000 ordained women priests and bishops in the Episcopal Church. They make up about 40 percent of all ordinations. In 2006 the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. She is chief pastor to the Episcopal Church’s 2.4 million members in 16 countries.
“Women played an important role in Jesus’ ministry,” said Price. The women got it when Jesus said he was going to be crucified. They were there supporting and doing. They were the first ones at the tomb.
Price is especially interested in children’s ministries.
“It’s important to give children a firm Christian foundation,” said Price who is also an accredited Godly Play storyteller. Godly Play is a Montessori approach to teaching the Bible’s timeless truths. “A child can have a relationship with Jesus at an early age; it’s not just for adults.”
She also has a soft spot in her heart for animals. She began a Pet-People Ministry at her former church in Orlando and looks forward to establishing one at St. Mark’s. Her goal is: “to educate humans to be open to the Christlike, unconditional love of domestic animals and for people to experience to the therapeutic value of the human-animal bond and to install in every human an appreciation of all God’s creatures, and a genuine recognition that God’s boundless love extends not only to humans, but to His creatures.”
She will serve through the last Sunday in June and will oversee all priestly functions in June, the first month of the Rev. Dr. Kyle Bennett’s summer sabbatical.
Kathleen Tuttle, a Marco Island resident since 1987, has written articles for various non-profits for more than 25 years. She is a community volunteer, former science teacher and microbiologist. Kathleen can be contacted at email@example.com.
Marco Presbyterian Church
Women’s Friday morning interactive Bible study based on the book “Unshakeable Faith: 8 Traits for Rock-Solid Living” by Kathy Howard continues 9 a.m., in room 2 in the church’s Fellowship Hall. The study centers on the Apostle Peter’s life. Participants will walk with Peter as he walked with Jesus. They will learn what Peter learned and be challenged to apply it to their own lives. Books are $7 and are available at class. For information contact Bonnie at 389-0759.
Marco Lutheran Church
A new worship schedule: one service at 9:30 a.m. and the Education Hour moved to 10:45 a.m. The 5 p.m. worship service will continue through the month of May. Current, a 7 p.m. contemporary worship service, will continue through the summer.
“Mom’s Morning Off” 9 a.m to noon, Saturday with breakfast at Mango’s and a “mini-spa” at church. Call the church for information.
San Marco Catholic Church
New Mass times are: 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday; 5:30 p.m. Saturday Vigil with confession at 4 p.m.; 8 and 10:30 a.m., Sunday.
The San Marco Council of Catholic Women (CCW) invites all children to participate in the May Crowning of Mary at the 10:30 a.m. Mass, on Mother’s Day. Mary will be honored as the Mother of God in a traditional ceremony. Participating children, the CCW and the Knights of Columbus Color Corps will process into the church prior to Mass. Children are asked to bring a flower to place in front of Mary’s statue. The children will assemble at 10 a.m. in the San Marco Parish Center. The CCW will escort the children to the church just before Mass. All children will be invited to the altar to crown Mary. If you would like your child to be a part of this procession, or, if you have questions, contact Janet Knudson, 394-3620 or Kim Adamson, 394-5181, ext. 13.
Wesley United Methodist Church
GriefShare, a 13-week seminar/support group for adults who are grieving the death of a family member or friend, begins on May 29. The 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. sessions will meet every Tuesday through Aug. 28 in the church’s Hensel Room. GriefShare is a safe place to find comfort, hope, and healing with others who have experienced the deep pain of loss and understand how you feel. It doesn’t matter if you experienced a loss recently or years ago. Each session contains Biblical insights, plus practical strategies for dealing with a variety of grief-related issues. For more information, please visit www.griefshare.org.
You may join the group at any time, but space is limited. Sessions will be repeated throughout the year, so if a session is missed or you want to go through the seminar again, you are welcome to come back.
There is a one-time $20 registration fee, which includes materials. Save $5 if you pre-register and pay by May 15. Help is available for those who cannot afford to pay the registration fee. Information, call the church.
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
The Alzheimer Association’s Memory Loss/Caregivers Support Group will meet 10:30 a.m., May 21 in the church library.