The Very Rev. Canon Melissa J. McCarthy — vicar of Epiphany, Oak Park, and dean of the diocese’s El Norte deanery encompassing Santa Barbara and Ventura counties — will serve incoming Bishop Coadjutor-elect John Harvey Taylor as canon to the ordinary, it was announced May 14.
The position combines the traditional title of “canon” or representative of an “ordinary” or diocesan bishop. In addition, McCarthy currently chairs the arrangements committee for Taylor’s July 8 consecration in Los Angeles.
McCarthy, who also is a past two-term president of the diocesan Standing Committee, will join the diocesan staff on Nov. 1 to begin orientation to the ministries of the Bishop’s Office working with Canon David Tumilty, diocesan chief of staff and executive for operations, prior to his retirement in 2018.
McCarthy’s ministry was affirmed May 9 by Bishop Diocesan J. Jon Bruno who during clergy conference named her an honorary canon of the Cathedral Center of St. Paul. Bruno underscored her leadership and service in her congregation and the wider diocese.
“Dean McCarthy is skilled in pastoral care and development of congregations,” Bruno told The Episcopal News. “I look forward to having her come aboard as Bishop-elect John Taylor’s canon to the ordinary. As she evolves into this new ministry, we must all keep her in our prayers, envisioning an abundant transition.”
“Dean McCarthy has been and will continue to be a brilliant servant leader in our diocese,” Taylor told The News. “She will bring gifts of keen intelligence, creativity, organization, and deep pastoral insight to her collaborations with Bishop Bruce and me. I’m deeply grateful to Melissa for accepting the Holy Spirit’s invitation and to the good people of Epiphany in Oak Park for sharing her with the greater Church.”
Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce, who shared the announcement this morning with the Oak Park congregation, said she is “excited and energized by the ability to work with Dean McCarthy who is a deeply spiritual person as well as being a creative, collaborative and communicative leader. What a great combination!”
Of her new position, which will encompass various roles of supervising diocesan staff and program, McCarthy said, “I am so looking forward to being part of the diocesan leadership team, and so appreciative of this opportunity. Bishop-elect Taylor, Bishop Bruce and I hold in common the desire to be servant leaders, grounded in prayer, with relationships of love and grace as central to this collective ministry to which we bring our different gifts and skills. Our hearts are hungry to empower collaborative, creative and prophetic ministry across the diocese.”
McCarthy added that “leaving the Church of the Epiphany is not easy. Bishop Bruno graciously accepted their request in 2008 for me to serve as the vicar, and we have had a wonderful 11 years together. It’s a remarkable community that has formed my priesthood, and I will miss serving God in this congregation.”
McCarthy, 44, said she began discerning her call to ministry at St. George’s Church, Riverside, in 2001. She was ordained to the transitional diaconate in June 2005 and to the priesthood in January 2006. In her first 18 months of ordination she served at St. Mark’s Church, in Berkeley, Calif., in a non-stipendiary position while pursuing a master’s degree in homiletics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, from which she also received her master of divinity degree.
She was called to serve the Church of the Epiphany as the associate under the leadership of the Rev. Canon Hank Mitchel, then vicar. In 2008, when Mitchel retired from Epiphany, McCarthy became priest-in-charge and eventually was appointed vicar beginning July of 2009.
Under her leadership, Epiphany has grown in numbers as well as in programs. She has developed a range of education and formation programs for children, youth and adults, and supported the development of the Red Door Vineyard, Epiphany’s community-building project of tending, growing and harvesting wine grapes.
She also has held various diocesan leadership roles, having served on the Corporation of the Diocese, the Bishop’s Commission on Ministry, Diocesan Council, the Disciplinary Board, and the Standing Committee, as well as serving as dean of Deanery 1 since 2011.
McCarthy represented the Diocese of Los Angeles as a deputy to General Convention in 2015, and she looks forward to returning in 2018 as well. She has served on the boards of Canterbury USC and Camp Stevens, where she works as a chaplain each summer. In addition, McCarthy has been a facilitator and mentor for the newly ordained in this diocese for the last seven years.
Born and raised in Bakersfield, McCarthy is a 1998 graduate of the University of California, Riverside, with a bachelor of arts degree in religious studies. She has worked professionally in the performing arts, including teaching, performing, and arts administration. She credits these skills as benefits to her ministry in congregations and to new work as canon to the ordinary in the six-county Diocese of Los Angeles.
McCarthy continues to explore her love of the performing arts through her study of classical and flamenco guitar, and enjoys spending her free time hiking, paddle-boarding and traveling whenever and wherever she is able.