Thursday, September 11, 2008

From "90210" to the Pulpit and Back

The Rev. Ann Gillespie has taken a trip back to her roots as a member of the cast of "Beverly Hills 90210". She plays alcoholic Jackie Taylor, Kelly's troubled mom.

After a career in Hollywood, Gillespie (the daughter of an Episcopal priest) got tired of the Hollywood scene, felt the call and moved her family across country to attend THE Protestant Episcopal Seminary in Virginia (also known as Virginia Theological Seminary, alma mater of mine and Sarah Midzalkowski's.) Now she is associate rector at historic Christ Church-Alexandria, Va., where George Washington once worshipped.

But when "90210" returned in a remake version this fall, they wanted to keep Jackie Taylor as a character. Gillespie took off the plastic collar and headed west once more, to play the sort of person she would spend hours counseling in real life.

Lots of clergy have "previous lives" that their parishioners don't really know much about. Chaplain Sarah, for example, worked in costuming on Broadway for several years, on shows like "The Lion King." I was editor of Discovery Channel's print magazine.

But then God gets all in the mix, and the church gets all in the mix, and the next thing you know, it's the plastic collar and the pulpit.

Or not. God can call us out of one career into another that actually has nothing to do with the Episcopal Church. The challenge is to be responsive to those movements of the Spirit that lead us from one stage of our life into the next, from one vocation into another.

+ Kit

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