Friday, August 25, 2006

Called by God

Here’s a little bio (from the church newsletter) of an Episcopal priest I knew back when I was living in San Diego County.


Fr. Joe [Rees] was a cradle Christian and raised in the Episcopal Church all his life. He was born in Bryn Mawr, PA, moved to Setauket, L.I., New York and graduated high school there to go on to college for two years at Adelphi University in Garden City, Long Island. At Adelphi he received his initial calling to pursue Holy Orders. Disillusioned by the church he postponed the postulancy and transferred to Rutgers University in New Jersey. He changed his major to Environmental Science and entered the pre-pilot program of the Air Force ROTC. He met Lucy there at the co-located Douglass College and at the end of their senior year they were engaged to marry

Lucy was born in Newark, Ohio and graduated High School from Glen Rock, NJ. Joe was commissioned a 2nd Lt in the Air Force after graduating from Rutgers in 1975. Lucy did a short tour in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica. Joe was a greenhouse manager in Turlock, being on hold with the Air Force due to the cutbacks in officers at the end of the Vietnam War. Joe and Lucy were married on Jan. 3, 1976 and have been happily married for over 30 years.

After tours at Tyndall AFB, FL and Shaw AFB, SC and Luke AFB, AZ, their first child, Christy, was born in 1978. Joe was called to a remote tour at Osan AB, Korea in 1979. It was there at the end of his tour that he found out that he was finally accepted to pilot training. Then, a month later while still on the mountain radar site he learned his mom was dying of cancer and that Lucy was pregnant with their only son Daniel. The Air Force gave him a choice...pilot training or reassignment to be near his mom at Castle AFB, Merced, CA. He went to be with his mom.

It was there he recommitted at St. Francis, Turlock to enter the process for the priesthood. Just before his mom died, Joe was accepted to Trinity Seminary in Ambridge, PA and their family of three started off to seminary. His mom died shortly after their arrival and they flew back for the funeral.

Since this was such a great transition, and Lucy was pregnant with their second child, Joe took a year off and worked in Boston for his brother-in-law as an office manager for Data Resources Inc.

Then, the Holy Spirit pushed him back to seminary at Trinity the following year. It was there that their third child, Laurie, was born in 1982. Joe left seminary after that first year again conflicted with the church. Suddenly, the Air Force called and wanted him to come back for the AWACS program. They left seminary for Oklahoma City and Tinker AFB.

He became a radar controller on the AWACS. Their fourth child, Lily, was born to them at Tinker AFB hospital in 1985. Joe saw a lot of Saudi Arabia, Iceland, England, and other 'classified' deployments. He went to headquarters Langley AFB, VA in 1986 and spent three years there. Then, off to Okinawa, Japan where he flew with the AWACS unit for three years.

In 1989, he had a vision of the Lord Jesus letting him know in the middle of the night that "This is your last chance to serve me". He listened and obeyed, found a way to exit the AF and wound up back at Trinity seminary in 1992. Shortly after arriving, Joe got a call from his old boss saying that the first and only AWACS had crashed at Elmendorf AFB, AK and the whole crew was killed. Joe had turned down that very assignment to separate from the AF. The officer that replaced Joe was on that aircraft. Joe realized that the word from the Lord truly was a 'last chance'.

Graduating from seminary in 1994 and arriving back at St. Francis, Turlock, Joe was ordained deacon by Bishop Schofield in Sept 1994 and priest in March 1995 in the Diocese of San Joaquin. He served at St. Francis for two years and was called to Christ The King parish in Riverbank (near Modesto) where an old priest friend was beginning a new work planting a church in an old liquor store. That priest retired and Fr. Joe saw the congregation through to building a new church and having it consecrated in 2000.

In August 2001, Fr. Joe was called to All Saints, Vista (celebrating his first service the Sunday after 9-11). Growth and healing of the parish occurred and yet in 2003 after that fateful General Convention, plans for a capitol campaign evaporated and members drifted away or moved. Presently, after this latest General Convention, and the failure of the national church to engage in a faithful response to the Windsor Report recommendations, Fr. Joe was called by the Lord to leave ECUSA and be faithful to his priestly orders in the Anglican Communion, in association with Fr. Tony and St. Anne's Anglican Church.Ch

Fr. Joe and Lucy have four adult children, one grandchild and one on the way. Matt & Christy, their eldest, is due a baby girl on December 2nd. Stephen, their three year old is excited. Daniel followed Fr. Joe and is an AF pilot of a C-130 and is married just a year to Sarah of Corpus Christi, TX. Laurie is 24 and a pre-school teacher at All Saints of Shadowridge where Lucy teaches full time too. Lily is 21 and finishing Pt Loma Nazarene Univ. in Social Work. All are faithful Christians.


  1. All of which goes to show that if a man is called of God, he cannot avoid his calling, try as he may.

    If only more people tested their call the way this man did. I'm afraid one of the perrenial problems of the Church is people entering into the ministry too lightly.

  2. "...he had a vision of the Lord Jesus..."

    Ah, a "vision" did you say? Interesting... A tradition that goes all the way back... to Paul. Imagine that.

  3. Fr. Joe Rees was an Eskimo last time around.

  4. Monty Bristow8/26/2006 7:09 AM

    Ha! Tremble in fear of the Disturber!

  5. Steve, you're very ecumenical for a Baptist... Praising the Lutheran liturgy; quoting Calvin; and now, using the other P-word for this Episcopalian p...astor. Is there such a thing as a High Church Baptist?

  6. hostus twinkius8/29/2006 5:12 PM

    Boy, this kind of testimony kinda makes me want to cry. To see this man's heart for the gospel is really convicting, I mean, how many years did it take him to get through seminary? 15-20? Wow, he really stuck with it. Who can question his calling after so many surreal providences?