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In choosing Jamie Barnett to be our Vicar, Bishop Taylor has selected a pastoral leader with a rich, multi-dimensional background. Jamie’s path to the priesthood, which began later in life, was one borne of deep spirituality spurred by personal loss. The seed was planted while attending various Episcopal churches around the country as she raised her family, and it grew through her years of involvement in many capacities as a lay minister at All Saints Church, Pasadena.
Born and raised in Mississippi and Georgia (Atlanta), Jamie attended the University of Mississippi, where she graduated with a BA in Speech and Theatre. Following graduation, she moved to California to pursue a career in television, together with others from Ole Miss. One of them became her husband, and together they raised six children until their eventual divorce caused them to part ways.
Jamie began a long and successful television career with the CBS Studio Center’s grip department in 1993. In 2000 she became the first and is still the only female to have led that department at any major Hollywood studio. The work of a “grip” entails hands-on involvement and coordination of lighting and staging for TV and motion pictures. Her responsibilities included controlling department production costs, overseeing daily operations, and managing the creative whims of many, many producers!
Tragically, in 2005 Jamie’s 24-year-old daughter, Ashley, died while on a three-day cruise. Since that time, Jamie has been active in the formation of a grassroots victims’ advocacy group called International Cruise Victims, which lobbies Congress for legislation to better protect the rights and safety of cruise ship passengers worldwide. The organization worked tirelessly to see through the successful passage of a bill known as the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010, which President Obama signed into law.
Following such traumatic personal loss, Jamie was drawn to anything that would help her cope with her grief, and in 2007 she trained to become a grief group facilitator. She also completed By Your Side, the Episcopal Church’s training for end-of-life companioning, as well as Education for Ministry. In addition to that, she became a spiritual director in 2012 through a deep, contemplative, two-year program at Stillpoint in Pasadena. Gradually, Jamie began to find meaning through her loss. It was that discovery, together with the encouragement from others who said, “Jamie, God is going to use you!” that cemented her decision to pursue the priesthood. “It was a divine and holy time of listening to what the Holy Spirit was directing me towards,” she explained.
Jamie’s theological studies took place at Bloy House in Los Angeles, the Episcopal Divinity School, and Claremont School of Theology. She enthusiastically embraced this challenging, four-year journey while holding down a full-time job as well as a hospital chaplaincy, which was part of her training. “There are times when I think, “How did I do all that?” she laughs. “Well, I didn’t do it – it was with God’s help. God was getting out ahead of me and making the way.” Jamie was ordained in 2019.
Following her ordination, Jamie returned briefly to All Saints as a deacon but looked forward to having her own church. She soon received a call from the rector at St. Michael’s asking her to become his assistant rector. There she shared regular preaching and presiding duties, led Advent and Lenten study groups, assisted with Sunday Bible study classes, and filled in when the rector was away. She organized a young adult group and participated in all pastoral duties. She worked closely with the rector to navigate the church’s online presence throughout the pandemic. It is from St. Michael’s that she was called to serve at The Church of the Epiphany.
She has a strong pastoral presence, including among those who are homebound or hospitalized; provides thought-provoking sermons; leads with vision, compassion, and strength, and helps broaden our community relationships. She wants to engage us in conversation about how we can grow, and where we can be creative and collaborative. “All these things,” she said, “we will do with excellence.”
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