Ann’s primary responsibility will be in pastoral care and visitation. She will also join with us as a chaplain in university ministry and will, from time-to-time, teach on Wednesday evenings at our community night. She joins a very talented staff of clergy and laity, complementing the gifts we already have.
The Vestry earlier this week formally approved the terms of her letter of agreement with us, and members of the Vestry have spent time with her talking about her vision of ministry and meeting her husband, Chris. Her bishop, the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, of East Carolina, has agreed to allow her to serve with us.
Ann’s first Sunday with us will be Aug. 30. As you will discover, she is a recent graduate of the Virginia Theological seminary, and she comes to us with much life experience. She is a mother of two daughters, and she has had a career as a physician.
Ann currently is a transitional deacon, ordained in the Diocese of East Carolina. We expect, God willing, she will be ordained a priest here in Virginia in early 2010. There is much more to say, so for now, I hope everyone will extend to her a warm greeting and assistance in her ministry. Here is her biographical statement:
Grace and peace to you, dear friends in Christ! My name is Ann Bagley Willms and I am so excited and privileged to have the opportunity to serve the St. Paul's Church community as an associate rector for pastoral care and chaplain for university ministry. I look forward to meeting each of you and learning your stories - the events that have challenged you, or brought you joy, or made you curious about God's ways.
I hope to hear about your life together in community and your dreams for the future. Working together with your fine clergy, staff, and lay leaders, my intention for pastoral care is to mutually share God's love with you through active listening, prayer, and in-home and hospital visitation, in times of crisis and joy. Fostering community through small groups which evolve naturally is also a part of pastoral care. My role in university ministry will include sharing in the Sunday evening worship service and working with the other chaplains.
A cradle Episcopalian and native of St. Paul, Minnesota, I have lived in several regions of the US. I graduated from Brown University with an A.B. magna cum laude in Human Biology in 1982. After working for a year in a virology laboratory at the Texas Medical Center, I attended Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, where I received my M.D. degree in 1987. After a transitional internship, I completed a diagnostic radiology residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, and became board certified in 1992.
While serving a fellowship and assistant clinical professorship in abdominal imaging at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, I met my future husband and chief surgery resident, Christopher Willms, M.D. We were married there in 1994. In 1995, we moved to Albuquerque, NM, where Chris completed a cardiothoracic surgery fellowship and I worked in private practice in Santa Fe. In 1997, we moved to New Bern, NC and joined radiology and surgery practices. Our twin daughters, Nina and Olivia, were born in 1998.
Throughout my 20s and 30s, I explored other faith traditions, including Free Will Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Unitarian-Universalist, and was exposed to Roman Catholicism through my maternal grandmother. All of these experiences contributed to my formation in faith. Amidst a gradual “reconversion” to Christ, I returned to the Episcopal Church in 1999 with a renewed passion for its liturgy and interest in spiritual practices. The Willms family became part of the Christ Church, New Bern family where we were an integral part of the community for six years. I served there in various capacities, including Pastoral Intern for 2 years, making pastoral visits in home and hospital as well as preaching monthly.
After ten years of medical practice, and with the invaluable support of my family and church community, I left radiology to follow a call to ordained ministry which brought me and my family to Virginia. As my husband established a new surgical practice at Martha Jefferson Hospital, I commuted to Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, where I graduated in May 2009 with a Master in Divinity cum laude. I also served the congregation of St. Paul’s Church in Ivy for two years under the supervision of The Rev. Miller Hunter in fulfillment of field education requirements. In my senior year, I completed a chaplaincy internship with the UVa Health System.
Our family has thrived in the Charlottesville community, most appreciative of its cultural offerings, eclectic population, and scenic beauty. We are indebted to family, friends, and the communities of Christ Church New Bern, Virginia Seminary, and St. Paul's in Ivy for their support in our formation to date. I am also very grateful to and proud of my husband and daughters for how they have persevered and grown through our transitions together.
Most recently, I was ordained to the transitional diaconate on June 13, 2009 and subsequently traveled to Italy with my family. Now I so look forward to serving and worshiping God with you, the people of St. Paul’s Church. My special interests include the ministry of reconciliation and healing, community building, the writings of Christian mystics, and iconography. A former triathlete, I now mostly swim, bike, and walk. As a wife and mother of tweens, I continue to learn how to “do theology on the ground.” The basis of all of my ministry is the hope found in the good news of Jesus Christ and the never-ending love of God for all people.
Photo by Alexandra Dorr