Today, we are talking about Reverend Dr. Kate Alexander from Christ Episcopal Church here in Downtown Little Rock. She began working there in 2007 and is now the rector. She is originally from Berkeley, California, and she was ordained there through the Episcopal Diocese of California while attending The Graduate Theological Union. She also holds degrees from Mills College and Harvard Divinity School. And she is the author of “Saving Beauty: A Theological Aesthetics of Nature.” She is married with three children.
Rev. Dr. Alexander was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and sensed a call to priesthood as a child. “Obviously, that was not a possibility in that tradition, so I considered my options,” she says, reflecting back on her journey. She considered becoming a nun, which would be an option for leadership in the Catholic Church., but it wasn’t the right fit. This began a process of what she calls “unraveling” within her faith. She tried many different faith communities over a period of time and discovered the Episcopal Church. “As soon as I walked into an Episcopal Church, it felt like home, because it feels so similar… a liturgical tradition, with a lot of similarities, and, yet, there was a woman at the altar.” At this point, she revisited the calling she had received as a child, and decided to pursue ordained ministry. “[My calling] was nurtured in this tradition,’” she says.
When asked what is most life-giving about her job, she says, “The people I am charged to care for are the joyful foundation of what I do day-to-day.” For 15 years, she has served Christ Episcopal, and she’s worn many “hats” in ministry there, so she’s really been able to invest in congregational life there. One thing she has really felt good about is helping her congregation articulate what it means to be a downtown community. She has even done things that on the surface might seem boring–connecting them with the mission of Christ Church. For example, they need to replace the building’s HVAC system, so she is helping with that planning process to make sure the new system will accommodate certain outreach ministries of the church. She continues, “Christ Church has been on a trajectory for the past 20 years or so…it’s time to do this vision work for the next chapter. Otherwise, we could become stagnant or complacent.” Another aspect of her job that has been life-giving has been her work at funerals, as contradictory as that might seem. “I always feel the most useful when I can help a family during a time of loss. I have these beautiful liturgies that I can offer them that have amazing words that the families are not able to speak for themselves. The liturgies can do that for them.”
She has several mentors and heroes. She starts by saying, “I have been raised by other women in ministry quite literally. They have shepherded me from very early on.” The first female rector she had in Berkeley, whom she told about her calling, was so supportive and walked with her during that pursuit. “She was ordained in the early days of women’s ordination in the Episcopal Church… she had seen some things,” Alexander says. She credits the “sisterhood of female clergy” as being an essential foundation for ministry. “I could not do this on my own, but with them partnering with me, there’s a lot we can do!” She speaks with such humility, but it should be mentioned that she is the first female rector at Christ Church. She was sure to point out that there are more female rectors in Arkansas now. And this would not be possible without collegial support.
A big thank you to Rev. Dr. Kate Alexander, for taking the time to share her leadership story with us!
A Benediction for the River Leaders
Sometimes we need The Grand Canyon
The awe and the majesty
Bold colors and textures
Something has to bring the tourists
But the real work happens in the river
Moving with the wind and rain and sun and climate changes
Patient in knowing this might take a few minutes
Or a few days
Or a few years
Or a few ages
Keep on flowing and carrying patient explorers
As you show us how to carve Love
-Written by Katie Mitchell