By Oliver Lazenby
Christ Episcopal Church in Blaine is holding an installation ceremony for its new leader this week, but Reverend Dawn Campbell Foisie is already becoming part of the community.
Since starting on January 1 at the church at 382 Boblett Street, the part-time vicar has focused on being available to the congregation and community, she said. Foisie has held regular office hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.
“People are tickled that when they drive by and see my car in the lot they can pop in to say hey,” Foisie said. “Sometimes they share news and sometimes it’s for more serious discussion.”
Church members said Foisie is well on her way to becoming a part of the community. She likes the community and would like to stay in Blaine for years, she said.
“The congregation is healthy. It’s small but mighty,” Foisie said. “It has been a joy and I expect it will be for years to come.”
She replaced interim vicar Mary Jellison. Jellison served the church since August 2014, when the previous vicar, Andrea McMillin, moved to California for a new position.
Foisie lives on Camano Island with her husband, Drew Foisie, the vicar of St. Aidan Episcopal Church.
Foisie grew up Lutheran and says she felt called to the church at 10 years old. That feeling waned, but came back in her late 20s when she discovered the Episcopal Church. She finished an undergrad degree in religious studies at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland in her 30s and went on to earn a Masters of Divinity from the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia.
Foisie served as assistant rector of St. James’ Parish in Lothian, Maryland until August 2015, when she moved to Camano Island with her husband, who grew up in Washington.
Marjorie Hatter, a member of the church committee that selected Foisie, said she possesses the balance of spirituality and practical leadership that the position requires.
“She’s very people-oriented, very compassionate and I think she really wants to work with the congregation as a whole and build the congregation,” Hatter said. “She’s a practical person who understands the way the world works.”
Foisie is the first vicar in recent history to hold regular office hours. Her methods of getting to know the community are working and people are taking advantage of Foisie’s office hours, Hatter said.
“It’s rare that she doesn’t have two or three people drop in. It’s a way of really integrating in with the community and so far it’s working pretty well,” Hatter said. “We’re just really happy to have her and we’re excited about our future with her.”
For Foisie, her office hours are indicative of her style as a church leader.
“I intend my sermons to be nurturing and empowering and very pastoral,” she said. “I care about what is going on with people in their spiritual lives, physical lives and emotional lives.”
To officially introduce Foisie to the community, the church will hold a celebration of new ministry at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30. The traditional episcopal event is a ceremony in which the diocese and congregation “install” the new vicar. It’s a way to honor new leaders, Foisie said.
Bishop Greg Rickel from the Diocese of Olympia will preach at the celebration.