“I love being a priest. I never imagined I could do something every single day that I’d love. I love pastoral care. I love preaching. I love building community,” the Rev. Dawn Frankfurt said as she sat in the rector’s office at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.


“I love being a priest. I never imagined I could do something every single day that I’d love. I love pastoral care. I love preaching. I love building community,” the Rev. Dawn Frankfurt said as she sat in the rector’s office at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.


It’s obvious in the first moments of meeting her that Frankfurt is passionate about her calling. It is equally obviously she loves and cares about people and she loves dogs, evidenced by the fact she shares her office with Abby, her 21/2-year-old boxer.


And it’s the things Frankfurt enjoys most that she says have already impressed her in the short time she’s been in Ardmore.


“My strongest first impressions are that Ardmore is incredibly warm and welcoming. Everybody has been so friendly, inviting me to lunch, dinner and into their homes. And dog lovers, I’ve met so many dog lovers and they’ve shown lots of love for Abby,” she said.


Frankfurt’s stay in Ardmore will not be for the long haul. She’s an interim priest. Her job is to guide the local parish from the retirement, earlier this year, of the Rev. Ernie Maddon through the process of finding a new rector to serve St. Philip’s. Ardmore is the first parish she has served solely as an interim priest.


“I think the job of an interim priest is to shake things up ... to not always do it the same way, to strengthen the things that are flourishing and to end those things that have seen better days,” she said. “My job is to clear the decks for the next rector so when that person arrives the excitement can begin.”


Ironically Frankfurt’s “shake things up” job mirrors her own life’s journey. It is a journey that in many ways uniquely qualifies her for her duties as an interim priest. Starting with the fact that Frankfurt never intended to become a priest. She wasn’t even a “cradle” Episcopalian.


In a nutshell —  Frankfurt grew up Presbyterian in Oklahoma City, graduated from high school in Edmond and obtained a degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She pursued a career in marketing. She married and although she continued on her own chosen career path, her husband’s job took the couple to North Carolina and then Hawaii.


It was while living in Hawaii, where she worked as the spokeswoman for the board of realtors, that she joined the Episcopal Church. It was also in Hawaii where her marriage ended. And it was in Hawaii where her life took yet another dramatic change.


“I decided this was my opportunity (to become a priest),” she said.


But the decision to change the direction of her life wasn’t easy or simple. You simply don’t jump from being a parishioner one day to priesthood the next.


“I did a couple of years of discernment with the Hawaiian Diocese and then with the diocese’s support I entered Yale Divinity in 2001 and graduated in 2004.”


Her first post as a fledgling priest was as associate rector at Trinity Church in Staunton, Va. Then the rector of that parish retired. And Frankfurt realized her true calling was that of an interim priest. She took the required additional training and assisted Trinity in the final stages of finding a new rector. Her next assignment was Ardmore.


“St. Philip’s and Ardmore is my first time as an Episcopalian in Oklahoma,” she said.


While the parish selects a new rector, Frankfurt said she does have one additional community-oriented goal.


“I still consider myself in marketing and I see St. Philip’s becoming a larger contributor to the community — a more welcoming presence, inviting people in and going out and serving people,” she said.


Oh, and one more thing. While she has discovered Ardmore is a friendly place for newcomer humans  and newcomer canines, there is one thing she finds odd.


“What’s with the two-way access roads on both sides of Commerce Street?” she said.


Marsha Miller 221-6529
marsha.miller@ardmoreite.com