The Very Rev. Gail E. Greenwell was named dean of Christ Church Cathedral as of November 1, 2013. She was officially installed in A Celebration of New Ministry on Saturday, April 26, 2014.
Previously she was rector at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Mission, Kansas (a suburb of Kansas City). She also served at the Church of the Epiphany in San Carlos, California, and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Belvedere, California, and was interim director of Christian Formation at Christ Church in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Dean Greenwell earned her Master of Divinity degree at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in history and education from the University of Oregon. Her experience includes authorship of a curriculum in preparation for baptism and establishing a spirituality and arts camp for low-income and inner city children. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Pastoral Leadership Award from the Louisville Institute and in 2014 she was the recipient of The Bishop Herbert Thompson Award from the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission.
Dean Greenwell and her husband, Jim, are making their home in Cincinnati’s Over-the- Rhine. They have two grown daughters – Megan is a journalist for ESPN in Connecticut; Emily works in pharmaceutical publishing in Boston. They also have a four-year-old Boston terrier named Riley.
How would you define the mission of Christ Church Cathedral?
I believe that Christ Church Cathedral is called to pray the prayer of Christ, learn the mind of Christ, and do the deeds of Christ. We envision a lively, mission-oriented church that discerns and welcomes God’s call in the heart of Cincinnati.
What was the most important moment in your spiritual journey?
A trusted spiritual advisor led me to understand that good pastoral leaders must do their own work on forgiveness before they can effectively counsel others on forgiveness. This message was transformational for me. None of us can truly experience the forgiveness of Christ Jesus, until we’ve forgiven others as Christ has forgiven us.
How do you know that God is at work in your life?
This is a question I’m often asked. For me, personally, there is a deep sense of joy that comes with knowing that God is at work in my life, or that I am doing God’s work. And for those who seek to discern what it is that God is calling them to do, I will sometimes tell them that they will find it at the point where their greatest gift and the world’s greatest need intersect.
What is your vision for the Episcopal Church?
The Episcopal Church has sometimes been called “The Church of the Wide Middle.” We embrace the wideness of Christ’s mercy. We believe God has called us to be in community with one another, and for that reason we seek to be inclusive, and to treat one another with love, compassion, and respect, which is the example of Jesus.
How does that vision translate to Christ Church Cathedral?
The hope and optimism I feel for the Episcopal Church, I see Christ Church Cathedral poised to live out. The cathedral’s congregation seeks many of the things about which I care deeply, and that is what it means to be an urban cathedral in the 21st century.
What’s the most satisfying thing about your ministry?
Oh, there are so many wonderful and satisfying things. I just appreciate being a meaningful part of people’s lives. I like being a part of this community. It’s satisfying to form so many deep Christian friendships.
Then there are the sacramental moments. To sing for the dying. To hold an infant over the baptismal font. To place the bread of life in someone’s hands. These are satisfying beyond words.
What do you see as the “main thing” about your ministry?
Reconciliation. That’s the main thing. Reconciliation between God and his people. Reconciliation between God’s people and God’s creation. And reconciliation between God’s people. My main ministry is to provide those in my pastoral care with the means to forgive, and also practical, workable, ways to build or re-build relationships. Genuine relationships.