The Rev. Canon Ronald Spann knew his stepdaughter had a gift for human connection at a young age.
During a family trip to a historically black congregation in Galveston, Texas, his stepdaughter — now the Rev. Dr. Shannon MacVean-Brown, then 10 or 11 years old — sat at the feet of the matriarchs of the church, entranced by their stories. At the end of the visit, MacVean-Brown approached each of the elderly women and, as a parting gift, handed them portraits she had drawn of them.
“We had no idea she knew how to do portrait pictures. And the precocious quality of them were just amazing,” Spann said. “It was something about being engaged, reaching across a generational gap. … And now we’re looking back at her capacity to relate to others different than herself. It was just there, in a little kid.”
MacVean-Brown will put this innate interest in human connection to the test in a new community — as bishop of Vermont’s Episcopal Diocese.