Introducing Father Justin Lanier, Our New Rector

Posted on Nov 30, 2012

We are delighted to welcome Fr. Lanier, his wife, Heather, and their daughter, Fiona, to St. Peter’s!

Fr. Justin comes to us from Lebanon, Ohio, where he spent two years as Diocesan Resident at St. Patrick’s Church. He told me he would like to share a little about his family before delving into his own history.

He told me that Heather is a writer of poetry and non-fiction. Her book, Teaching in the Terrordome, which is about her time with Teach for America in Baltimore City, is coming out in the fall and her recent book of poetry, The Story You Tell Yourself, came out this past winter. She was most recently a Visiting Professor of English at Miami University and before that she taught at the University of California, Berkeley.

Their daughter, Fiona, was born June 7, 2011, weighing 4 lbs. 12 oz., in Dayton, Ohio. “Besides her impressive cuteness, you may notice Fiona’s small stature and her delayed development. She has a genetic condition called Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, which is in the 4p-family. She is healthy and eager to connect with people. Also, if you look quietly into her left eye, you might be able to see the 5-pointed star in her iris. Look close toward the nose to see the most distinctive point.”

Fr. Justin holds a Masters of Divinity, 2010, from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (the Episcopal Seminary of the West), Berkeley, California. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Delaware studying Philosophy as a Major, focusing on Christian Theology and Mahyana Buddhism, as well as minoring in Religious and East Asian Studies with Language (Japanese). He spent his early years in Delaware and was ordained to the priesthood in June, 2011.

He spent time at a Neo Monastic Community as a contemplative missionary in the San Francisco Bay area. He also helped co-found the Community of the Reconciliation, aka COR, a contemplative intentional community of young men and women. Of interest was the time spent in monastic formation in St. Benedict’s Trappist Monastery in Colorado studying under the direction of Fr. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O. He also spent time at the Tofukuji Zen Buddhist Monastery under Keido Fukushima Roshi in Kyoto, Japan.

Fr. Justin notes that the Eucharist is, and will be the center of our spiritual life together. He writes, “…the more deeply we enter into the mystery of the Eucharist, the more open we become to the transforming grace of God”.


He plans to meet all parishioners during his first year with us. (Note: Foyers or informal gatherings at parishioners’ homes will be offered as a way to facilitate this process.)

He is particularly interested in building community to “experience the ecclesial mystery, the community aspect of being the body of Christ”.

Father Lanier has experienced and worked in a wide variety of liturgical settings – “high and low church”, far east and far west settings and ecumenical or interfaith worship experiences. His training includes work in integration of contemplative practice with the sacramental and liturgical life of Christians. He is open to liturgical innovation and experimentation and looks forward to bringing these new approaches to worship to St. Peter’s.

When meeting with Father Justin, in two separate settings, I found him to be a good listener and he appears to have honed this skill in response to a variety of questions posed to him. I was also struck by his sense of presence in our conversations. His calm spiritual answers and listening skills are complimented by his wonderful and endearing sense of humor.

BUT, all this is MY reflection and is only a prelude to YOUR sense of our new spiritual leader. You will only know this if you come and see at Sunday worship and other venues as planned!

Dick Bower, Senior Warden