St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Scottsboro is proud to welcome Lynette Lanphere as its new interim priest.
Lanphere began her duties on Sunday, May 3, 2015 with her first service after the retirement of Father Dex Bender.
“We are very proud to have her,” said J.P. Parsons, of St. Luke’s. “She comes to us with wonderful qualifications and she is a terrific person.”
Originally from Marshalltown, Iowa, a small town near Des Moines, Lanphere holds four degrees including a bachelor of arts in History and English, an MS EDU in elementary school education, an MA in clinical psychology along with a master of divinity.
Lanphere spent 23 years as a Roman Catholic nun in schools and parishes in Iowa and Chicago, Illinois, and worked several years as a children’s clinical psychologist before beginning her journey in the Episcopal faith.
“I became a nun during the late 1960s when the Peace Corps and (AmeriCorps) VISTA were big programs,” she said. “People weren’t trained to do things that kids today are trained to do. The goal was volunteerism and saving the world. That was one reason I joined the convent.”
As a clinical psychologist, she spent her days helping children with diagnosed psychiatric disorders that lived at the private hospital where she was employed.
“A typical stay was 18 months,” she said. “We had a school on campus and dorm rooms for them there. Our focus was always to get the children to modify their behavior and help them be able to live in a less restrictive level of care.”
It was after she began worshipping at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Mason City, Iowa, that Lanphere decided to pursue ordination.
“The majority of the people in the Episcopalian faith were not born into it,” she said. “It’s a nice place to be.
I made the decision to become a priest through discernment and encouragement from other people,” she said.
In 1999, she entered seminary at The University of the South at Sewanee.
“After seminary, I was an associate rector at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Huntsville,” she said.
In 2004, she was called as the rector at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Leads, Alabama near Birmingham where she stayed until her retirement in October 2014.
“I was there for 10 years,” she said, “but I knew it was time to leave and let someone else take them on the next leg of the journey. They did not want me to go, and for that, I am grateful. It was very kind of them.”
Upon retirement, the modest rector knew there was still more to do.
“I knew when I retired that I wanted to do interim and supply,” she said. “That is where you fill in when another church needs you or help where you can.
“I knew that if I wanted to do that, I needed to stay where people knew my name,” she said. “I had lived in Huntsville for two years, and I loved it and still do, so I bought a house there in April 2015, after I got this position.”
Lanphere had applied at St. Luke’s after hearing Father Dex would be retiring.
“I was familiar with St. Luke’s through a classmate of mine, Steve Bates, who had been the rector here several years ago,” she said. “It’s a lovely church.”
As the interim rector, she will serve the church until a permanent priest is placed at St. Luke’s.
Lanphere will continue to hold Holy Eucharist Services each Wednesday morning at 11:45, and traditional Sunday services at 9:30.
She will be available each Wednesday and Thursday in the church office from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
“I’m happy to be a part of Scottsboro,” she said. “I’m looking forward to exploring this beautiful area and I’m happy to be of service and assistance to not only the people of St. Luke’s, but also to the community.”