institution
The Rev. David Powell, who works alongside his wife, Betsy, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, is a fourth-generation priest. He has served at St. Paul’s for nearly three years, and he regularly emphasizes that faith is something to be practiced all seven days of the week, not just Sundays. -- Taylor Holland

Faith is more than Sunday

Published 9:42pm Saturday, June 2, 2012

There were many factors that drew the Rev. David Powell to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Selma nearly three years ago, the biggest of which was the opportunity to serve on the same staff as his wife after years of serving separately.

Powell said working alongside his wife, Betsy, the church’s associate rector, has been mostly wonderful.

“It’s profoundly meaningful to worship in the same place because worship is so important to both of us,” Powell said. “The challenge sometimes is to navigate that in such a way that we get distance sometimes from work. And we’re still learning how to do that.”

Powell grew up with a firsthand account of priesthood, as his father was a priest. He said he saw the joys of priesthood, but also the behind the scenes stuff such as the toll it sometimes took on his father and his family.

“At first, I had no intention of going into the family business,” Powell, a fourth-generation priest, said. “I was in high school, looking back on it, when I knew I was being drawn to it. I thought I was going to teach in college and write books, but finally I was restless and I knew that I had to open the door to explore if in fact I was being called to the priesthood, and I discovered I was.”

Since being ordained in 1982, Powell has served in numerous parishes in both southern Florida and Alabama.

He said his favorite church season is Advent because of its sense hope, not just in looking forward to the moment of the incarnation, but also in looking forward to that continued creation that God is about and to the consummation of the world.

“With it’s themes of expectation, hope and pregnancy, and also the hymns and the liturgy and the scripture associated with that time, Advent reminds me, year after year, that God is doing something with creation and with the world,” he said.

Powell said he hoped he was articulating the importance of integration between faith and community and life outside the congregation to the various members of St. Paul’s.

“Faith isn’t something that we do on Sunday morning that is different than the rest of our lives, but in fact one informs the other,” Powell said. “Hopefully our faith informs how we live.”

Looking ahead, Powell, who enjoys doing anything outside in his free time — fishing and hunting, especially — said he looks forward to continuing to learn about Selma and its deep history.

“Selma has such history and many of the people who are here haven’t just lived their whole lives here, but, for generations, their families have lived here and they are deeply connected to the place, to the church, to the community, to the land, and to each other,” he said. “I’m learning that that’s terribly important and I’m trying to learn from that.”

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