DioMS: Dobrosky Retiring
The Rev. Mike Dobrosky, rector at hyper-liberal Church of the Mediator in Meridian, Miss., gives a lengthy interview to the Meridian Star. Full text of the interview:
Dobrosky prepares for third career
By Ida Brown / senior staff writer
After more than 20 years as an Episcopal priest, the Rev. Mike Dobrosky has retired.
“I’m 65, there’s some things I have not done that I want to,” said Dobrosky, who, for the last 7 1/2 years, has served as rector of Church of the Mediator.
“Who knows? Maybe there’s another retirement in me,” he joked. Dobrosky is also a retired military man, having served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force.
Throughout his career in the ministry, Dobrosky has witnessed many changes in the Episcopalian faith — the acceptance of homosexuals in some churches and the recent appointment of a woman as presiding bishop.
Dobrosky recently met with The Meridian Star’s Editorial Board to talk about his experiences in the ministry, and to share what lies ahead for him and his wife, Barbara.
The Star: Tell us about your early ministry after you retired from the Air Force in 1980.
Dobrosky: I knew for sure that God was calling me to ordained ministry.
After graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi, I was selected to go to seminary in Chicago and Barb and I got our master’s degrees in 1986. The bishop sent me to Aberdeen and was made the vicar in charge of a small church there.
(From there) I went to south Jackson and served as rector of All Saints Church in the late ‘80s. A lot of significant things were going on at that time, not the least of which we were beginning to see the first major AIDS cases.
People were coming home to die. There was plenty of opportunity to do some outreach — I trained people in my congregation to do that. We involved ourselves in a ministry of healing — not in the sense of healing the AIDS, but being present and providing healing for people with their pain.
This was at a time when churches didn’t fellowship with people who were gay and families and others rejected them. Our ministry was to go and to sit with people, read scripture and pray and sometimes just have conversation and hear their stories. It was a good ministry.
After nine years there, I received a call from the bishop’s assistant who encouraged me to read a profile of a church. I didn’t think I was ready, but as I read it, it was clear there was a match.
I called the church and after meeting with Sissy Wile (a church official), I knew within 10 minutes it was right. And so we began the process. I met with the church’s committee, they came over to All Saints to see me. That afternoon, I got a call saying, “We want you to come to (The Church of) the Mediator.”
The Star: What do you think about the evolvement you’ve seen in the Episcopalian church?
Dobrosky: I’m excited about the Episcopal church these days, our election of a woman as the first presiding bishop of any major denomination of the world (Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori).
Yes, there’s conflict, and the conflict is over a number of things — a good part of it has to do with sex. I’m convinced that it was the wind of the Spirit that elected the presiding bishop and I believe that she’s going to lead this church through some difficult times. And yes, we may lose more people, but I think the people who are going to stay are going to be more committed to carrying out the Gospel.
There’s so much more to do in the church than to worry about someone’s sexuality. Jesus made it very clear that we’re supposed to be about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, visiting prisoners, making peace with our enemies, welcoming the stranger, becoming as servants to the poor and the neglected and seeking God’s kingdom above all the worldly kingdoms.
I think we do that pretty effectively here at The Mediator. From our annual barbecue, we grant a lot of requests and we give to a lot of organizations (Boys and Girls Club, Wesley House, the schools). I think we do a lot of what the Gospel tells us to do.
The Star: Is it really about sexuality, as far as the main split in the denomination?
Dobrosky: I think with the conservatives it is.
The Star: Is it more that the presiding bishop is a woman? Or is it because of her support, for example, of openly gay priests?
Dobrosky: I think that just added fuel to the fire. But she made her stand very clear before, and when, she was elected. We had a presiding bishop a few years ago who said there would be no outcasts in this church, and he took a lot of heat for that.
I think she’s saying essentially the same thing. Everyone is welcome in the Episcopal church and she’s made it clear that she’s going to live up to that statement.
The gay and lesbian community is very active in the church, they are all tithers, participate in all activities in the church and are committed Christians. Absolutely nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus mention anything about homosexuality; he makes a big stink about divorce, but not about that subject.
The Star: Any disappointments during your years in Meridian?
Dobrosky: I think one of my biggest disappointments is that we didn’t get the Amos Network going. (Amos is a church- and community-based organization, with chapters in Mississippi and other states, whose members work to unite their communities across racial, cultural and denominational lines. Its members address problems they identify in their respective communities).
I think it had a great future ahead of it, we have a lot of people of several races who came and supported it.
Unfortunately, what happens with Amos, I’ve seen it happen all over the county, if the pastor does not support it, it’s not going to work. I think there were elements in the community that did not want Amos to go and did everything in their power to stop it.
We were really on a roll and then it just sort of died. I think there’s a lot of good things going on here, but I think we could have been a force for change — upgrading communities. But it just didn’t happen; that’s my biggest regret.
The Star: What are your plans now?
Dobrosky: Barb and I will probably move to Clinton. I want to work with Peace and Justice Ministries in Albuquerque, working with the poor, the illegal immigrants, helping people who don’t have the gifts that I have and the financial wherewithal that I have. I’m not a rich man, but I just want to be able to do some things I haven’t done before and most of that will probably be volunteer work.
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