The Rev. Dr. Shannon MacVean-Brown describes herself as an “almost” lifelong Episcopalian. When she was only four years old, while attending the daycare center of Church of the Messiah Episcopal Church in Detroit, she convinced her mother that they needed to go to church. Her mother agreed, and they joined Messiah and the integral intentional community where her future stepdad was rector and leader. Shannon’s mother would go on to establish and be principal of Messiah Learning Center, a K through 6 elementary school serving that inner-city Detroit neighborhood.
The Rev. Dr. MacVean-Brown was six years old when she first heard the call to the priesthood, even though she was unaware that the church was not ordaining women at that time.
“I was not aware of the barriers that existed because I saw women included in leadership and around the altar,” she said. “Six-year-olds also think they can do everything. In addition to being a priest, I thought I’d also be an artist and ballerina. Maybe in my retirement, I’ll try the ballerina option. I do love to dance!”
After some years immersing herself in art as a commercial interior designer, designing and selling clay jewelry and tiles through her business, and teaching art, the Rev. Dr. MacVean-Brown embraced God’s call to the priesthood.
She commented, “I have a passion for awakening communities of faith to the power of our baptismal covenant and how it is a genuine bond that connects us to Jesus and each other, drawing us to prayer, worship, and the celebration of God’s creation. Our baptism compels us to notice and be present in our communities, no matter our location.”
The Rev. Dr. MacVean-Brown credits her experience ministering to a wide range of congregations across racial differences and social classes with developing her ability to companion with people from all walks of life in the discovery of their identity and gifts. Prior to her election as the 11th Bishop of Vermont, she was serving as interim rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Franklin, Indiana, a rural congregation, committed to radical welcome and service to the community.
The Rev. Dr. MacVean-Brown is committed to social justice work in the church and the community, as she has demonstrated through her service with the Episcopal Church Taskforce on Women, Justice, and Reconciliation, and as president of Faith in Indiana (501C3), and Act Indiana (501C4). Faith in Indiana and Act Indiana have been working closely on innovative, multi-faith solutions to issues facing rural, urban and suburban communities such as immigration, public transportation, mass incarceration, criminal justice reform, access to healthcare, and daycare for children.
She added, “I am always at heart an artist. I express this in the liturgies I create, my poetry and icon writing, and in other creative endeavors that nourish my spirituality. Essential to my identity, my non-negotiable values are love, integrity, truth, authenticity, creativity, community, beauty, prayer, joy, delight, family, our church, and wellness of mind, body, and spirit.”
Shannon and her husband Phil have been married for 26 years. Shannon holds a Master of Divinity degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Ecumenical Theological Seminary. Phil holds an MSW and worked in various capacities in Child Protective Services for the state of Michigan until his retirement after 30 years. The couple have a teenage daughter and a chihuahua named Detroit.
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