Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Another death "in the family." Ralph was such a great guy. Dean and I so appreciated his blending of art, spirituality and domestic gay life.

The Rev. Ralph Carskadden dies at age 71 (full story here)

If we are to grasp the message of
the gospels;

If we are to understand the
teachings of Jesus;

If we are to be faithful disciples,
then we must realize what
we are called to be:

Called to act counter to the
prevailing culture which
surrounds us.

-The Rev. Ralph Carskadden (from Peter Hallock, ©1994, on the Compline Choir website)

The Rev. Ralph R. Carskadden died Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011 after battling cancer. He was 71. A Requiem Mass will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at St. Mark's Cathedral, Seattle, followed by a reception at Diocesan House. Both of these events will be hosted by St. Paul's, Seattle.

A Northwest native, Carskadden was born in Seattle on June 25, 1940, raised in that city and on north Whidbey Is. Baptized into Christ at 6 months old, he grew up into the faith as a Lutheran. During his senior year at Wittenberg University in Ohio, he found a home in the Episcopal Church and was confirmed by the bishop of Southern Ohio on “Low Sunday” 1962. That summer he became a postulant in the Diocese of Olympia and traveled to New Haven, Conn. to the Berkeley Divinity School, graduating in 1965. He then moved to New York, where he was a caseworker with the welfare department as well as a paid alto in the Men and Boys Choir at Trinity, Wall Street.

Carskadden cherished a long association with Peter Hallock and the Compline Choir, with whom he traveled to Russia, Scandinavia and England.

“A piece of my soul is connected to the art, music and spirituality of Russian Orthodoxy,” Carskadden once explained. He traveled several times to Russia as a member of the St. Petersburg, Russia, Seattle Sister Churches program, and helped raise support for the Children’s Hospice in St. Petersburg.

A founding member of the diocesan Dismantling Racism Training Team, Carskadden was instrumental in facilitating conversation on race relations, working with congregations to eradicate the sin of racism and encouraging them to move toward being more inclusive, diverse and welcoming. Home was a sacred place to him, and together with his long-time partner, Steven Iverson, Carskadden lovingly and painstakingly restored their 1910 Craftsman house on Beacon Hill. Jacob, their Scottish terrier, was a constant companion.

A well-respected liturgical consultant to a wide variety of churches and organizations, Carskadden taught the Introduction to Christian Worship course in the Diocesan School of Ministry and Theology and served on the Advisory Board of the Summer Liturgy Institute at Seattle University. He served a three-year term on the City of Seattle Arts Commission and also on the board of the Association of Diocesan Liturgy and Music Commissions of the Episcopal Church. As a craftsman he worked in textiles, clay and iconography.

In August 1967, Carskadden returned to the Pacific Northwest and was ordained deacon, and the following year, priest, by Bishop Ivol Curtis. He served on staff at Christ Church, Tacoma; St. Paul’s, Seattle; Christ Church, Grosse Pointe, Mich.; and for three years was canon liturgist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Detroit. In 1976 he became an associate at All Souls’, San Diego, and in 1979 was elected its rector.

He returned again to Seattle at the end of 1986 to work on a degree in art at the University of Washington, and in 1988 became part-time on the staff at St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle, where dean Fred Northup appointed him canon liturgist. When that position was terminated, he finished his degree and became priest-in-charge at St. Clement’s, Seattle. After two years, he was elected rector of what he affectionately called “that wonderful, multi-racial congregation” until his retirement. Later, he served again at the appointment of Bishop Greg Rickel as priest-in-charge of St. Mark’s Cathedral, where he guided the congregation on a process of discovery and self-examination through the creation of textiles, vestments and altar cloths, made by weaving together pieces of fabric and yarn donated by the congregation and larger community. He found his spiritual home at St. Paul’s, Seattle, where he was a priest associate.

Carskadden, a beloved pastor, consultant, craftsman and artist, will be deeply missed. Please keep him, Steven Iverson, their family, friends and all those who mourn in your prayers.

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