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It is a time of transition within our Diocese, and we have a new clergy transition to announce.

The Rev. Dr. Maria McDowell has accepted a call as Rector of Christ Church, Tacoma.

The Rev. Dr. Maria McDowell has lived in Los Angeles, Iowa City, and Boston but is always drawn back to the blue-green trees, mountains, and ocean of the Pacific NW and her hometown of Portland, Oregon.

Maria was raised in the Russian Orthodox Church (OCA) and has been an active participant with the Russians, the Greeks (GOA), and the Antiochians (AOA). In college, she joined a social justice-oriented InterVarsity group in Los Angeles and attended Fuller Theological Seminary, where she simultaneously recognized a calling to ministry and realized she was simply not an evangelical Christian in either theology or temperament. After seminary, she pursued a Ph.D. in Theological Ethics at Boston College while returning to her Orthodox roots, where she served as a choir member, chanter, youth minister, educator, and occasional preacher; essentially, any form of church ministry open to women within Eastern Orthodoxy. She met her wife, Elizabeth, in the Orthodox Church, and they were subsequently excommunicated. Maria then followed Elizabeth to Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, where they were immediately invited to exercise their gifts as welcome participants in a vibrant community.

In the Episcopal Church, Maria found a home where worship was a joyful and life-giving experience of hope, welcome, and delight in the uniqueness of all God’s creatures. In 2018, almost twenty years after leaving seminary, Maria was ordained to the priesthood and then served as Rector of St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Church in Portland. Elizabeth came alongside her in ministry at St. Philip, helping start Godly Play and leading paperless music, all the while completing an LPN degree and then working with the frail elderly at Providence Elderplace (during Covid, no less!).

Maria loves gardening and woodworking, and her prayer life involves conversing with God with busy, dirty hands or writing. She has always been a bit of a tech geek and often relaxes with a video game or two. She and Elizabeth like to camp, kayak, bike, and eat good food. Maria, and often her wife, go absolutely nowhere without reading material. Maria is a huge fan of the Portland Thorns (and attended Fred Meyer soccer camp with some of the most famous Timbers players in the 80s). Elizabeth has suggested that with their new home, she may switch her primary loyalty to the OL Reign. Maria may grudgingly accept a secondary loyalty to them because, after all, #RCTID.

Please join us in welcoming The Rev. Dr. McDowell to the Diocese, and keep all congregations experiencing transition in your prayers.

Clergy Transitions in the Diocese of Olympia

2 thoughts on “Clergy Transitions in the Diocese of Olympia

  • November 13, 2023 at 5:40 pm

    I will miss Maria+and Elizabeth, but know that they will be a blessing to Christ Church and the Diocese.

  • November 14, 2023 at 6:19 pm

    Christ Church Tacoma was my home parish from November 1995 to May 2007!
    Congratulations and best wishes to everyone as they begin this newest chapter in their story!-Carla Golden


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