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New rector at Faith Episcopal offers hope

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From page B2 | February 27, 2013 |

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FATHER SEAN COX at the Faith Episcopal Church in Cameron Park Tuesday February 12. Democrat photo by Pat Dollins

The Rev. Dr. Sean Cox was installed as rector of Faith Episcopal Church in Cameron Park on Jan. 27, but he’s been on the job since November, getting to know the community and his new congregation.

Cox comes to Faith Episcopal from Austin, Tex. where he served as rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Bryan-College Station, home of Texas A&M.

“My wife is a Longhorn. She went to University of Texas and so did her parents. I preached to Aggies for 6 1/2 years. God has a sense of humor.”

He holds a number of degrees: a bachelor of arts in English from University of Arizona, doctor of divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary, and a master’s of divinity from the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin.

He held rector positions in California, Arizona and Texas before coming to Faith Episcopal.

Cox said he wanted to return to the West Coast.

“During this time of economic challenge, California has been hard hit — people are really stretched. Also, so many people in California are from somewhere else with little family or social support here. They lead an isolated existence and I wanted to speak to that. In this challenged, distressed, chaotic season of our life, I wanted to encourage people with hope and provide models of what a life of faith in those circumstances might look like,” Cox said.

“It’s all about location, location, location — helping people orient themselves with God and their community. There are exiles who are isolated, away from friends and family but there are also pilgrims who undertake an intentional journey and have the sense of God’s presence with them,” said Cox.” I hope Faith Episcopal Church can be a positive location, even for those who aren’t affiliated with our congregation.”

As a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, Cox coaches and mentors chaplains from four battalions of the 23rd Marine Infantry in San Bruno.
“The battalions are scattered all over the country and we’re responsible for about 4,000 people,” he said.
 On the floor of his office at Faith Episcopal is a beautiful, deep red rug, a souvenir of his 2007 tour of duty in Afghanistan as a U.S. Navy Reserve Chaplain.
“I spent six months in-country  and I bought this rug on the very first day,” said Cox. “Being in Afghanistan redefined my heroes. I always thought heroes were people who did extraordinary things, but after being in Afghanistan and working with people from a lot of different backgrounds in many tactical support positions, I started thinking that heroes weren’t just those with guns.

“Heroes are those who shape their communities — the teachers who give children the tools to build a better life, bankers who enable community building with their support and the journalists who share the truth unflinchingly — local people who raise up other people to do great things. Many of those people grew up in communities like this one with a focus on community service.”

One of the challenges facing the church today is our use of time, said Cox.

“During Lent, I look at time and how we view it. People are stressed and disconnected from God, their community and themselves. Our church is right off the freeway and all day long people zoom past on their way to eke out a living. Long-used Christian practices like keeping the Sabbath are now obsolete because we work every day. I want to be in the middle of that, lifting up practices considered archaic and looking at how they might be made relevant today,” Cox said.

In response to the announcement of Pope Benedict’s impending retirement Cox said, “Every generation reinterprets tradition. I admire his courage and I pray for a smooth transition in the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Joining Cox in his new job is his wife of 16  years, Katie; 13-year-old daughter Rebeckah; and 10-year-old son Brian.

“I came out here in November and they joined me for the holidays, but we didn’t yet have a house,” said Cox, “We lived for a month at Cielo Winery in the Victorian, courtesy of parishioners Bill and Carrie Manson. That was first class transitional housing.”

Work hard, pray hard, play fair is how Cox said his life works.

“I love the mountains and the water — and we moved here, right between the two. I couldn’t be happier to be able to raise children in this rich outdoor context,” he said.

Faith Episcopal Church is located at 2200 Cameron Park Drive in Cameron Park.

Visitors are welcome to Sunday services at 8 and 10 a.m.

 

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