St. Luke’s new pastor encourages community to ask questions, build faith
After a two-year search, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church has a new reverend who hopes to build a community that is life-giving for all.
For Reverend Ashley Gurling, the Episcopal Church offers a framework for belief where there's enough wiggle room to pose questions.
“I became very comfortable with the words I don't know," said Gurling. "But this is what I hope for–or this is what I think. Entering dialogue with people and exploring theological questions together, sometimes even arriving at different conclusions, but finding that the process of dialoguing about those things, helps us grow.”
And it’s through that growth Gurling said she hopes to build community. Before beginning her work in Park City, she was the seminarian at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City. Following her ordination, she said knew she wanted to remain in Utah.
“I have pieces of my identity that were formed uniquely here," said Gurling. "For example, I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And even though I'm no longer part of that faith tradition, it definitely informs who I am by who I have been. And I wanted to minister and work with people that have some of those same experiences I had and lived life in a particular way.”
St. Luke’s has two locations in Park City: The “Old Town Chapel” on Park Avenue and St. Luke’s Church on Silver Springs Drive. Dyan Pignatelli was the co-chair of the search committee for the new reverend. She said on Sept. 10, the church will host an event akin to New Year’s Day which is good news for those who may have strayed from their January resolutions.
“It’s going to be kind of a reset," said Pignatelli. "Every year we do this after summer is over. We start our church year off in September where we talk about our goals and stewardship, and we lay out our missions. And we get together socially just to reacquaint ourselves with each other, as vacations have taken people away. So it's just a celebration to get the year started.”
Gurling said one of the church’s focuses is to allow for many different interpretations and applications of the gospel inside of individual lives and families. She also acknowledged organized religion can have its challenges. “We need to build something beautiful. I think that part of the current challenge the clergy face is that we can’t be ignorant of our past and history. And we have to be humble enough to acknowledge the harm that's been done.”
But Gurling said her goal is to create something different: a place that she hopes will be live-giving to all.