Introducing our Transition Priest

The Rev. Joanna Leiserson

Joanna came to the Cincinnati area from Way Out West (California and Washington) to serve as Canon for Christian Formation and Mission at Christ Church Cathedral in 2005 after ordination, serving there until the arrival of the new Dean in 2013. She then served at St. Anne’s in West Chester as their Interim Rector until May 2015, helping them to discern their own congregational identity and then to find a new rector who would be just right for them.

In September 2015, she began a ministry at the Church of the Ascension in Middletown as a “transition priest for initial discernment,” helping them to discern the immediate future of their church and to explore ways to ensure the sustainability of the church. After completing their discernment, she began as Interim Rector at Calvary Episcopal Church in Cincinnati in Jun 2016, finishing with the arrival of their new rector in July. “These have been joyful times, and I anticipate that my time at Christ Church will also be a joyful one,” Joanna says.

She is a writer “by passion,” she says, “and also because God keeps bugging me.” She wrote the children’s Church School curriculum, Weaving God’s Promises (2011, Church Publishing). If you are curious about it, check out the website to find out what the curriculum teaches the children. She also wrote a Lenten devotional book titled A Grown-Up Lent: When giving up chocolate is not enough (2014, Forward Movement/Church Publishing). Currently, she is beginning work on an intergenerational curriculum tentatively titled Building the Community, focusing on the Gospel values that help to build God’s Beloved Community. Coincidentally, she has just begun to serve on the newly-formed diocesan Beloved Community Task Force.

Since her last name does not reflect her Chinese descent, Joanna will sometimes talk about Chinese traditions in her sermons “so you know my ancestry without having to ask.”

She loves history, astronomy, paleontology, “flowers but not gardening,” the majesty and silliness of the English language, animals and all the wonders of God’s creation, all church ministry, rush hour traffic, chocolate, and advocating for social justice. She lives in Covington, KY and has three grown children and five grown cats.


A note from Joanna about the transition

I am so pleased and honored to have been called to be your Transition Priest for the coming months at Christ Church. I am looking forward to partnering with you in ministry, as we work together to discern the vision and future of the church, and then to seek a new rector who fits your vision. And I am looking forward to meeting all of you and getting to know you. The welcome and hospitality that I received in my first meeting with your vestry, gave me a hint that this will be a fun and friendly place to be.


What will we be doing together?

In the coming months, I would like to have conversations with you about your hopes, dreams, and concerns about Christ Church. There will be mandatory congregational meetings to introduce the discernment process that will lead up to the church’s profile and then the search process. Our journey through this transition will cover topics of heritage, identity, leadership, mission, connections, and future.

As a certified trained interim, I will use the resources that have evolved in interim ministry over the past several years, adapting some models to your particular context. I will give you regular written updates and information about the transition process as the time goes on. Know that any transition from one rector to another takes time, and it is wise for the congregation to take its time. It’s tempting to be impatient, but be aware that, too often, a two-month interim time will likely result in a two-month rector. When we move slowly and deliberately, we will make sure that you will fin the best possible fit for your church.

The meetings will likely begin this fall. I hope you will join me in these discussions. I promise they will be interesting and enlightening and not a bit boring! Attending these meetings will also ensure that your voice will count in this search for the new rector. This is not the time for a select few to make the decisions, but a time for all members to offer input.

Please be assured that my job is not to put my own stamp on the church, nor to kill any programs that are thriving here. My job is to help you find the rector that best fits Christ Church at its best–and to help the church to discover or re-discover its best, in order to ensure the best partnership with your new rector.

So again, I look forward to working with you as you move toward a new and exciting time in Christ Church’s history.

The Rev. Joanna Leiserson, Transition Priest

How to Contact Joanna

Office Hours:

Joanna will be available for regular office hours, which will be announced soon. Since she lives and hour’s drive from the church, off-hours meetings may be scheduled by appointment.

Contact Information:

Cell Phone: (859) 803-0665


When to call after church hours:

For normal church business, please call the church office and leave a message if she is not there, Call Joanna on her cell phone if there is any urgent or critical concern needing immediate attending, for example, if you:

  • have been hospitalized,
  • are having surgery,
  • are experiencing personal crisis,
  • have a death in the family,
  • have been arrested, or
  • are involved in any other emergency situation needing pastoral care or guidance.