Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Meet Katherine Elberfeld, Author and Episcopal Priest

Founder of Gabriel Center for Servant-Leadership, Katherine Elberfeld has devoted her life's work to spreading the power and healing touch of servant-leadership throughout the world. Prior to establishing the Gabriel Center, Ms. Elberfeld, an Episcopal priest, served parishes in Northern Virginia for five years. Before entering seminary, Ms. Elberfeld worked as a newspaper reporter, freelance writer, and editor. Her articles on servant-leadership have appeared in regional and international publications including, Leadership, New Therapist, , Leadership in Action, The (Lexington, Ky.) Advocate, Virginia Episcopalian, Washington Diocese, and Pathways, the official magazine of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Ms. Elberfeld's published work also includes, To Speak of Love: Reflections on Servant-Leadership in Life and Work, and a novel called The Lady of the House.

1. What inspired you to write The Lady of the House?

Simply put, the book would not leave me alone until I had written it. Even now, when I cross those concrete bridges with slatted railings along the side, like the bridge described in the book where Annie and Danny explore one day, I feel a sense of relief and contentment that that bridge, its description and the nostalgic longings it gives me, the pull it has on me, are out of me and onto the page and into the book.

2. Why is revisiting the past so important to the narrator of your book?

Annie wants to know how she came to be the woman she is, why she made the decisions she did that shaped her life so profoundly. It is her belief that she will discover the answers to those questions by exploring the past. The underlying hope is that the past will tell her what she needs to know so that she can make different kinds of decisions going forward, helping her to carve out a life more in tune with her longings, values, her true self. That she can lay to rest the regret from which she suffers so profoundly, gain some peace and make choices going forward that will lead to deeper contentment, help her life to be in alignment with her deepest self.

3. How has your work as an Episcopal priest informed your work as a writer?

It's really been the other way around in some ways--I have been writing since I was five, and for publication since 1975. When I entered seminary in 1990, I already had a lot of experience writing professionally behind me. In homiletics (preaching) class, I was very fortunate to have a professor who stressed the same approach to writing sermons as my college creative writing professor had: show it, don't tell it. That really lit me on fire, and I had a wonderful time incorporating that into my preaching and still feel that it's one of the strongest components of my ministry.

4. What projects do you see yourself taking on the next year or two?

My publisher and I are in the process of proofing a collection of my short stories, and then I will continue to work with them on the production of the book. With help from my publicist and others, I am establishing a website,, to communicate with others about the process of discovery that in my case leads to writing which leads to more discovery. Through my writings, I share my journey with others, and I look forward to hearing about other people's journeys as well, and together we will go forward.

I will also return to a novel on which I've been working which is a fictional account of a woman in the Episcopal priesthood. Should be interesting!

Thanks, Katherine!

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