The Very Rev. J. Mark Goodman – Dean and Rector
It has been an exciting time at the Cathedral of St. John since my family and I arrived here in August, 2007. Our family knew Albuquerque from our annual visits to the Navajo Reservation, where I’ve been engaged in cooperative mission with the Episcopal Church in Navajoland since 1992. I say “knew,” but one can hardly know a place simply from flying in, renting a car, having a meal or staying the night and then heading to a mission church in the middle of Monument Valley. The real pleasure since being called as the Dean of the Cathedral has been getting to know the people of St. John’s and the many beauties of Albuquerque and its surroundings.
A common “ice breaker” question in new social gatherings is “Where have you lived?” For some people the answer is quite short, for they’ve grown up in the same place and haven’t moved much. My reply is a bit longer. I figure that I’ve moved about 17 times since I was born, sometimes within the same town, so mobility is not a stranger to me. It seems the good Lord was getting me used to the ordained ministry, where mobility is not necessarily a given, but the odds are pretty good that it will be required.
A native of Oklahoma, I grew up in Norman, where my father was in graduate school and from where he earned his Ph.D. From there I’ve lived in Charleston, South Carolina; Mount Pleasant, South Carolina; Lexington, Kentucky; back to Norman; Iowa City, Iowa; back to Lexington; New York City; Florence, Italy; Cincinnati, Ohio; Hamilton, Ohio; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and now to Albuquerque. My mother was a school teacher, kindergarten specifically, a vocation that could be expressed anywhere we lived.
Not surprisingly, given a father in academics (microbiology) and a mother who was a teacher, the pursuit of knowledge was a passion in our family. Growing up, there wasn’t a science to which I was introduced that I didn’t love and plan, at one point or another, to take up professionally. In the end, however, it was Botany that grabbed my attention most strongly, nurtured by an amazing and wonderful professor at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Elroy Rice. I received my Bachelor’s degree from OU and got my Master’s in Botany from the University of Iowa.
A short biography is not the place to focus in on small detail. Suffice to say that, following getting my Master’s degree, there were several years of being engaged in several professional pursuits. In the midst of that exploration, I heard the call to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church in the Spring of 1985, began the ordination process in the Diocese of Lexington and entered General Seminary in the Fall of 1987. Following my Middler (second) year, I began an intern year as Student Chaplain at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Florence. It was there that Dawn and I met and became engaged. We were married in Lexington, at Christ Church Cathedral, after we returned to the States in 1990.
My first placement after ordination was at Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati, Ohio (1991-1994). As providence would have it, that is Dawn’s home town, and so we were blessed to be close to her parents (and not too far from mine) as we began our married life together and as our two children were born. In August, 1994, I was called to be Rector of Trinity Church in Hamilton, Ohio. From there, in 1999, we were blessed to be called to Trinity Church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where I served as Rector for eight and a half years.
In 2007 I was a nominee in the Bishop election in the Diocese of Oklahoma. I was also a candidate in the Dean search here in Albuquerque. God moves in mysterious ways, as the old saying goes. I came in second in the Oklahoma election and was elected unanimously as the Dean of St. John’s. As events have unfolded in the Diocese of the Rio Grande, I am confident that we are at the right place at the right time, and I pray that God will continue to bless our ministry together.