April 9: Welcome to our new Assisting Priest, Donald Schell!

Welcome Donald!
As I shared this past Sunday, I am beyond delighted to formally welcome the Rev. Donald Schell to Resurrection as he begins serving with us as an Assisting Priest. Donald brings a wealth of experience and wisdom from many corners of the church, as you will read below. More importantly, he has a huge heart and is a wonder of a collaborator. Donald will be sharing in more of the preaching and worship leadership and will be joining in teaching and pastoring as well. In retirement, priests sometimes choose to “hang their hat” with a congregation, and I am so very grateful for his gift of time, care, and love. We’ll be celebrating this new season together after the 10:15 service on April 10.

Peace, Liz+
From the Rev. Donald Schell
Liz asked me for some word of where I’ve come from and why I landed at Resurrection.  

I’ll begin with “why Resurrection?”  When read The Night Lake last summer, Iwas deeply touched by it.  In a way this seventy-five-year-old needed more than he knew, every page of this young priest’s memoir spoke truthfully about faith, priesthood, creativity, and family, and I felt a way forward through dark night and vocational uncertainty.   Prompted by her book I sought Liz out to talk, and we found a deep connection in our shared vision for preaching and a shared hope and ear for congregational song as a key practice for Christian and community formation (“almost another sacrament,” we agreed as we spoke).  Hearing Liz’s hopes and visions for liturgy and community at Resurrection, and what she meant to offer in her preaching and shared liturgy and music-making, when she added that she would welcome the presence, support, and voice of another priest, it was evident to me (though I hadn’t had any idea of it) that Resurrection was just what I needed, though I hadn’t even known I was looking for it.  
And before that, what was my journey here? 
  • I’m a sixth generation Native Californian, born in San Jose, raised for a bit in San Francisco and then back to San Jose until College.  I’m the eldest of four children, and my brother and sister (and lots of nieces and nephews) live nearby.  My dad was a physician (as his father had been).  I was raised Presbyterian in the church where my parents had met and my mother’s parents before them.  That church sponsored my mom for ordination in 1984, twelve years after I was ordained, so my children protest when I claim to being a clergy kid.  
  • 1968 College, B.A. St. John’s College (Great books program), Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • 1971 STM, The General Seminary, New York 
  • Diaconal year at Good Shepherd, Lake Charles, Louisiana
  • Ordained priest at Episcopal Church at Yale, September 1972. . .fifty years ago!
  • 1972-1976, associate chaplain (with Rick Fabian) Episcopal Church at Yale
  • 1975 married Ellen 
  • 1976-1980, mission vicar, St. David’s, Caldwell Idaho
  • 1980-2006, founding vicar and rector (with Rick Fabian) Saint Gregory of Nyssa, San Francisco
  • 2006-present, founder, and regular workshop leader, Music that Makes Community (working ecumenically across the country for the renewal of oral tradition, “paperless” singing in churches)


My wife Ellen is a nurse.  She’s worked for the past twenty-one years in global health with GAIA (Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance) beginning as their first International Programs Director, doing HIV/AIDS work with local health workers in Malawi, Africa.  Before GAIA she’d worked on a medical/surgical floor at California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, completed graduate and Ph.D. nursing studies at UCSF, and worked for ten years as a researcher in nursing gerontology.  

Our four children (including my daughter from my first marriage) are married and scattered across the continent and beyond - Aberdeenshire Scotland, Washington DC, Oakland, and Los Angeles.  We have three, soon to be four, grandchildren.  

Ellen and I have walked twice as pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago in Spain and we then walked the Grand Canyon rim to rim.  I also walked the Camino with my older son and second daughter, and she and I wrote a book about our journey together, My Father, My Daughter, Pilgrims on the Road to Santiago.  

I’ve been in regular Aikido practice since 1982 (daily before the Covid lockdown) and hold a Sandan, third degree black belt.  Aikido is sometimes translated as “a way to reconcile the world.”  It’s a vigorous, non-combative, and, at best gentle martial art.  Over my last eight years taking cello lessons, Ellen returned to pick up from childhood piano studies, and we now practice together regularly, a beginners’ duo in the making? In the past year we’ve also found something deep calling to us as we’ve gone on retreat and sung with the monks at New Camaldoli, the Benedictine monastery at Big Sur.  Something stirring there, like here, another note of Resurrection – I’m grateful to Liz and to you all for this invitation and new beginning.