Click photo to enlarge
The Rev. Joyce Parry Moore, of Pleasanton, poses in the Byzantine-style sanctuary of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Livermore, Calif., on Thursday, April 26, 2012. The former chaplain of the Seamen's Church Institute at the Port of Oakland has just joined the church as its new rector. (Cindi Christie/Staff)

LIVERMORE -- It's a long way from singing leading operatic roles in the wilds of Alaska to presiding over services at a church in Livermore, but the Rev. Joyce Parry Moore has spanned the distance.

A classically trained lyric soprano, she also brings acting, dancing and writing skills to her ministry as the new rector (priest) of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church. In addition to her training for the priesthood at the Pacific School of Religion, she has founded an opera company, acted in plays, ran in grueling relay races, performed liturgical dance and boarded container vessels to minister to merchant seamen in San Francisco Bay.

A native of Washington, Parry Moore received a graduate degree in opera performance from the New England Conservatory of Music after a college major in theater and voice. She sang professionally in Boston and New York, then moved to Juneau, Alaska, for an administrative internship at the innovative Perseverance Theatre.

As part of her work at Perseverance in 1996, Parry Moore founded a traveling company called "Opera to GO!" to bring updated classical opera performances to remote villages. That company is still in existence today.

While working in Alaska's capital city, she met and married an actor and teacher named Patrick Moore. They blended their families: "hers," a son by a previous marriage; "his," a son and two daughters, and "theirs," Ariana, now 12. Ariana, following in her parents' footsteps, is studying acting at the Oakland School for the Arts.

Parry Moore's first inklings of her call to the ministry came in 2002 during her involvement with Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Juneau, where she and Patrick wrote and directed Christmas pageants. Subsequently, this call was "very much shaped" by treatment for breast cancer.

"In the course of bearing two children and going through cancer and chemotherapy, I became more and more 'undignified,' " Parry Moore said, referring to a quotation from King David in the Bible. "I had surely been broken and burned ... I was ready to give myself over to a new life as a priest of the Episcopal Church."

She has written a book called "Breast Dancer." Humor and singing are some of her cancer-fighting tools: she jokes that she nicknamed her surgeon in Juneau -- a baritone who was singing the role of Leporello, Don Giovanni's valet, in an Opera to GO! production -- as "Lumporello."

Raised in the Methodist Church, Parry Moore became a Catholic during her graduate studies in Boston and then joined the Episcopal Church after moving to Alaska. Her faith journey results in a very ecumenical outlook, as evidenced by her interfaith studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and its member schools, among them the Center for Buddhist Studies.

"The community of St. Bart's, Livermore, reflects the kind of diversity into which I am called to minister -- we serve people of many demographics, cultures and walks of life," Parry Moore said.

Parry Moore received a master's degree in Divinity from PSR in 2009, was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in 2011, and is pursuing a doctorate in Pastoral Counseling at the San Francisco Theological School. Her dissertation focuses on providing pastoral care for women after treatment for cancer.

She, Patrick, and their daughter, Ariana, have moved from Oakland to Pleasanton to be near "St. Bart's," as the church is known to its parishioners. April 16 was her first day in office as the church's new rector, and she led her first Sunday services on April 22.

---