HARRISONBURG — Rev. Barbara Harrison Seward is coming back home to serve as the priest-in-charge at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Harrisonburg, according to a press release.

“From the days of old, I strongly believe that God planted the story of me within the soil of Harrisonburg,” Seward, a 2011 graduate of Eastern Mennonite Seminary, said. “Therefore, I’m coming home to the place where I encountered the living God. This community, including Eastern Mennonite Seminary has given me so much, and I hope to correspond in kind. My greatest hope for myself and for Emmanuel is that we will actively plant, as well as actively water the seeds of hope, justice, transformation and restoration.”

Seward was selected during a nine-month process by a committee of seven lay parish members, according to the release.

“Committee members were impressed not only with Mother Seward’s theological seriousness and spiritual depth, but also her concern for, and commitment to, pastoral care of her flock, and to promoting community outreach and social justice,” said Dee Childs, the church’s senior warden, in the release. “We believe Mother Seward has the spiritual gifts needed to serve as an effective priest-in-charge-helping our parishioners discern the ministries to which they themselves are called, and facilitating their growth in these ministries.”

Seward preached and celebrated Holy Communion for the first time at Emmanuel on Sunday, and a formal installation is tentatively planned for September.

She succeeds Rev. Daniel D. Robayo Hidalgo, who was appointed last year as missioner for Latino and Hispanic ministries in the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. He had served at Emmanuel since 2009, according to the release.

Seward first connected with Emmanuel Episcopal Church while a student at Eastern Mennonite Seminary from 2007-2011. She was also involved in ministries at Harrisonburg Baptist Church and Waynesboro United Methodist Church.

Emannuel Episcopal Church is located at 660 S. Main St.

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