The Rev. M. Dion Thompson, new vicar at St. Andrew Episcopal Church on Loch Raven Boulevard, looks forward to his work at the church and "to strengthening the mission and spiritual life of the congregation."
His service at St Andrew began on Jan. 1 of this year just nine years after he heard God's call to become a pastor.
But twenty years before, his career was following a different path.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, he earned a Bachelor of English from California State University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern California.
Next came a 20-year career with various newspapers on the East Coast. Initially, he worked nights as a police reporter for the Hartford Courant and then the Miami Herald before he ended up at the Baltimore Sun covering criminal courts, state government and city hall. He also wrote feature stories and served as assistant bureau chief. His wife worked for The Sun as an editor for the editorial page.
During this period, he wrote a novel "Walk Like a Natural Man" and in 2003 left the Sun to devote himself to promoting his book. Set in the late 1930s in Hollywood, it is the story of a young African-American man who wants to be in movies.
He said, "My book was well-received, but its publication did not make me rich. ... As you can imagine, going from journalism to the priesthood is a very rich experience."
For 20-plus years, Thompson did not go to church. He says it was "a holy encounter with the divine that changed my life. God called and said he needed a helper (and) at first I told him he had the wrong number."
But by 2004, he found himself and his family in New York City enrolled in General Theological Seminary; three years later, he graduated with honors with a Master of Divinity degree.
His first appointment was at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Covenant on the Alameda in Baltimore in 2007. Now he has been asked to serve at St. Andrew while continuing service at Holy Covenant.
Serving two churches does not overwhelm him. He said, "One of my hopes for St. Andrew's is for it to become a vital part of its community as well as a place of inspiring and enriching worship. The church has a long, rich history in the diocese of Maryland, dating back to the early 19th century. I would love for people one day to say: St Andrew's? Oh, that's the church that does ... ."
The Thompsons have one son who will graduate from high school this year and hopes to attend art school in the fall.
On Sunday, Feb. 10, at the 9:30 a.m. service at Hiss United Methodist Church, youth from the church's five Scout troops helped to lead the service. Hiss has been hosting Scout troops for 65 years and designated Feb. 10 as Scout Sunday to honor members of Hiss's current troops, including Boy Scout Troop 475 and Cub Pack 475, Brownie Troop 828, Junior Troop 10051 and Daisy Troop 3916.
At the service, Scouts presented the flags and led a flag ceremony, recited their Scout promises, read scriptures and served as ushers. Troop leader gave a synopsis of the accomplishments in the last year. Honor was given to Dave Jeffers, a Hiss member who gave many hours of services to Scouting and who passed away this year.
For more information about Hiss' troops, call 410-668-5665.
The community is invited to a concert at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church (corner of Putty Hill Avenue and Loch Raven Boulevard) on Sunday, March 10, at 4 p.m. featuring Rachel Evangeline Barham, soprano, Monica Szabó-Nyeste, mezzo-soprano, and Katherine Hunt, organ.
Contact me by Sunday to read your Loch Raven news here!