Talk Story with the Rev. Ryan Newman
The All Saints Day service last Sunday at the All Saints Episcopal Church and Preschool was bittersweet for Deacon David Murray.
Not only was the service a call from God for people to do extraordinary things, it marked the final service for the Rev. Ryan Newman, rector and head of the preschool at All Saints. The service also celebrated the baptism of Alessandra Kahula Grace Newman, the daughter of Newman and wife Dr. Erin Gregg, and Kylan Teruo Wakuta, son of Kylie and Maricel Wakuta. The baptisms were officiated by the Right Rev. Bob Fitzgerald, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii.
“This is a bittersweet occasion,” Murray said. “We have the bishop presiding over the All Saints Day celebration that includes baptisms, and we have a liturgy to conclude Rev. Ryan’s ministry at All Saints Church.”
Following 5 1/2 years serving as the rector and head of school in Kapaa, Newman has been called by the Right Rev. David Rice, bishop of the Episcopal Doicese of San Joaquin, Calif., to serve as the dean of the Cathedral of St. James in Fresno, Calif.
“This is an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, both professionally and personally,” Newman said. “Professionally, this call will allow me to serve a cathedral and diocese in a significant leadership role amid a period of unprecedented rebuilding and resurrection. Personally, our new home will be in the Fresno-Clovis area, which is centrally locating us to most of our family that is spread throughout the state of California.”
The promotion will have Newman serving as the dean, running the Cathedral of St. James.
Cathedral churches serve as centerpieces of diocesan life in Christian churches in the Episcopal and Roman Catholic traditions. They are often located in urban environments and play a significant role in the life of the surrounding community.
A cathedral is also the bishop’s church. But because most bishops spend a lot of their time traveling through the diocese, a dean runs the bishop’s church.
The dean not only leads the cathedral congregation, the dean also has an important responsibility to work with, and serve, the broader community, as well as serving as a senior clergy member of the diocese. His actions must reflect the bishop’s vision for the diocese.
During Newman’s stay at All Saints, the church has seen significant growth and transformation, a demonstration of Newman’s growth to the position of dean for the Episcopal Church.
“Five years ago, our leadership team set forth a bold new vision — All Saints Church to be a cathedral for the people of Kauai, a center for worship, education, outreach and the arts,” Newman said. “We knew that God was calling us to serve the people of Kauai both on and off our campus. Our goal is always to be ‘the church’ that God is calling us to be — a safe and sacred place of faith, welcome, joy, renewal and service.”
One of these programs under Newman’s leadership was the creation of the Laundry Love outreach ministry that makes a significant impact in the community, most notably to those in need and the most vulnerable.
Since 2015, on the first and third Wednesday of each month, an army of volunteers from the church washes, dries and folds between 80 to 90 loads of laundry for members of the community.
“Laundry Love is more than just clean laundry,” Newman said. “It is about building relationships with our community and offering to the community members love, joy and respect.”
Newman also began the tradition of offering “ashes to go” and prayers for a holy Lent to motorists passing in front of the church. He led the church to develop a cathedral-like environment, especially during Holy Week, that grew to at least 18 services, including the Stations of the Cross at Kealia, and an Easter Sunrise Mass at Baby Beach (Fujii Beach).
Recently, All Saints finished renovation and restoration of the church’s sanctuary, where The Queens’ Chapel, dedicated to Queen Emma and Queen Liliuokalani, was recently blessed. Work is currently being done to welcome back Kauai’s only true pipe organ. These were part of Newman’s vision to transform All Saints into Kauai’s cathedral.
“Consistent aspects of his (Newman’s) ministry have included building and mobilizing groups, communities, programs, strategic visions, and even physical spaces,” Rice said. “I have every confidence that the ministry in which Ryan has engaged, and the experience he has attained, places him most positively to assume this senior position in the Diocese of San Joaquin. More importantly, I have a deep belief that God has called Ryan to be our Cathedral Dean.”
Ryan is not the only member of the family who made an impact on Kauai.
His wife is a board-certified physician in both internal medicine and pediatrics. Gregg worked at both the Kauai Medical Clinic in Kapaa and at Wilcox Medical Center since 2013.
“My wife is the superstar of our relationship,” Newman said. “During her tenure at KMC, she has more than 3,500 patients in her practice. We can’t go anywhere on this island without someone stopping us to say ‘Hi’ to their doctor. When we go to places like Costco, Erin’s patients stop us and communicate both their joy and sadness to us. They often say they are losing their best and favorite doctor. Erin is quick to remind them we are moving because of my job. I’m OK with getting run over by that bus. Kauai is losing an amazing doctor — and that is my fault.”
The All Saints Day service included a liturgy to conclude Newman’s ministry. It was also the celebration of their daughter Alessandra being baptized into the household of God, witnessed by her All Saints ohana.
“Erin and I cannot imagine a more appropriate setting for our daughter to begin her life in Christ,” Newman said. “It is by the grace of God and through the love, support and joy of the All Saints ohana that Erin and I have been able to embark on our journey to parenthood.”
Kauai has been a special place for the Newman family. The couple got engaged at Lydgate Park in 2001, and Alessandra was born at Wilcox Medical Center on Aug. 30, 2018.
“We have been so blessed by the All Saints ohana,” Newman said. “It has been an honor and privilege to serve All Saints Church and the people of Kauai. It will be very hard to leave this beautiful island, the amazing ohana of All Saints Church, and the wonderful people of Kauai. However, we believe God called us to Kauai and, now, we believe God is now calling us to the Diocese of San Joaquin. Yet, we will be back to visit Kauai — very soon, and often.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.