St. John’s Episcopal says good-bye to Mariann Budde

Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Linden Hills has became the first woman to be elected Bishop of Washington, D.C.

Known simply as Mariann, Budde will be leaving St. John’s, 4201 Sheridan Ave. S., after serving the Linden Hills parish for 18 years. Her final services are on Sunday.
Under Budde’s leadership, St. John’s has grown significantly, undergone two capital campaigns, survived a kitchen fire and led the congregation to be one of the first to support full inclusion of gays and lesbians in all aspects of parish life, including offering blessings to gay and lesbian couples.

St. John’s will host an open house to celebrate Budde’s years of service on Saturday, 4–8 p.m. Mariann presides at her last Sunday services on at 8, 9 and 11 a.m.
Most notably, St. John’s continued to grow into one of the most progressive and social justice-minded congregations in the Twin Cities. As Budde says, “The real work of the church happens Monday through Saturday when you’re out in the world.”

Budde may be best known for her thoughtful and thought-provoking sermons.

“People often say, ‘it feels as though she was speaking directly to me about issues I am facing,’” said Barb Nicols, a member of St. John’s. In her sermons, Mariann might mix scripture, wisdom from the Civil Rights era, a line from a contemporary poet or a story about one of her two sons.

Eliot Howard, a pastor at the Linden Hills United Church of Christ, down the street from St. John’s, joked, “I confess to secretly wondering if Mariann might be willing to preach a bad sermon once in a while to free up parking spaces on our block!”

When you talk to people about Mariann, words that come up again and again are integrity, justice, joy and the ability to bring people together.

Julie Madden, the Peace and Justice/Pastoral Ministry coordinator at St. Joan of Arc Church, explained that Mariann has “a truly amazing ability to inspire and unite people for the common good.”

During her tenure at St. John’s, Mariann inspired partnerships with congregations, neighborhoods and continents, from North Minneapolis to Haiti.

“About five years ago, one of our members went to Haiti,” said Budde. “And we decided to establish a parish partnership with St. Philippe & St. Jacques in the rural town of Gressier. We helped build a school. Then the earthquake struck, and we knew we had to stay, because you don’t leave a friend. St. Philippe & St. Jacques will be a part of St. John’s for a long time.”  

St. John’s organizes two medical missions each year staffed by volunteers from the community.  This year, the parish also hopes to help rebuild the school that was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake.

Mark Lindberg, a St. John’s member for nearly two decades, explains: “Mariann’s sermons and interests in social justice reflect the belief that ‘we can’t do it alone.’ As a result, St. John’s has been involved in a wide variety of social justice and outreach activities that build community ties and draw upon the strengths of others in the Twin Cities.”

Mariann’s interest in social justice and partnerships were forged early in her career.  In college in upstate New York, she discovered the political dimensions of faith, striving for social justice in partnership with Roman Catholics of the Catholic Worker movement.  After college, she worked for the Methodist Church, ministering to undocumented and homeless people in Tucson.  She and her husband Paul spent a year working in an Episcopal home for abandoned children in rural Honduras, returning many times to lead mission trips to Central America.

Mark Lindberg remembers when Mariann got up to speak at an event to highlight issues related to immigration, housing and education. “Before the crowd of 2000 people, she delivered a respectful, powerful speech entirely in Spanish.  That made an impact beyond an eloquent speech in English.”

In her new role as Bishop of the Diocese of Washington D.C., Budde will go from leading a congregation of 700 to leading thousands. She’ll oversee 88 congregations, seven of which are Spanish speaking.

Back in Minneapolis, Budde will be missed, but the congregation is readying a transition plan to carry on its ministry.

Budde is quick to give the credit back to her community. As she said, “It’s not only thanks to me that St. John’s is in a good place.”

For now, Budde and her husband, Paul, will be keeping their house in South Minneapolis.

“This is our home. It’s our sons’ home. And my cross country skis are here — I’ll be back!” she says with a laugh.