A couple of nights ago I was at St. Anne’s, a couple of miles down the road from us, for the installation of their new rector, Buddy Crawford. It was a joyful service, and Buddy, who has already been there for a time as interim rector, is clearly beloved. Two things really struck me that night. St Anne’s tends to be lean more on the conservative side of things. And yet, here they were, calling a partnered, gay man to lead them. The bishop invited Buddy’s partner, Eric, to come stand with them as he officially presented Buddy as their new rector. The applause was long and loud. It was wonderful.
Then during the celebration of the Eucharist I was struck by who was behind the altar. There stood a partnered, gay man; three female clergy; and our African American bishop. The sight brought tears to my eyes as I remembered being told as a child that girls could not be acolytes, and that when I was ordained almost 30 years ago women clergy were still a novelty. The differences between the Church of the past and the Church standing before me brought tears to my eyes.
One of my favorites from the Book of Common Prayer describes it beautifully — “let the whole world see and know that things which were being cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new.” Thanks be to God.
While I’m on the topic of St. Anne’s and things which were cast down being raised up, I remind you that tomorrow at 5 p.m. at St. Anne’s we will be showing a documentary called “The Philadelphia 11,” which is the story of the first 11 women ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. This is a joint offering from all the churches in the North Atlanta Convocation. This year (July 29) is the 50th anniversary of those ordinations. The women and the men who ordained them were courageous in their faith, and paid a price for it. But without them I might not be here writing to you today. Every Episcopalian should know their story. Please join us.
Also tomorrow our Sunday School class on St. Paul continues. Tomorrow’s discussion will be on “Paul the Homophobe.” Spoiler alert — that description is probably not true.
One of our most beloved traditions is coming up soon. Sunday, February 11, is the last Sunday of Epiphany, which means it also is Shrove Sunday — the last hurrah before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14. We will have ONE service that day at 10 a.m. A Dixieland Jazz will play for the service. And afterwards is our annual pancake breakfast. Mark your calendars now!
Finally, there are some pastoral concerns in our community. David Abner is now in hospice care. I spent some time with him yesterday. He is very weak and his booming voice has been reduced to a whisper. But he says he is not in pain, not afraid, and eager to enter into the life beyond this one. Please keep and his family in your prayers.
Maggie Harney is in the hospital after having a pancreatitis attack earlier in the week. She hopes to go home soon. Please pray for her and for Tom.
Finally, those who have been at St. Dunstan’s for a long time remember Billie Neal, who died in 2008, and her son, William, who was at one time one of Atlanta’s leading caterers. We got news this week that William’s 12-year-old son Gregory was hit by a car while walking home from school earlier this month in East Cobb. The impact sent him into the air, and he landed on his head 45 feet away. His twin brother witnessed the accident. Gregory is in ICU at CHOA with a traumatic brain injury and possibly some spinal cord damage, too. He has been showing signs of improvement, but the extent of the injuries are still not known. I spent some time with William yesterday, and as you can imagine, he is devastated, not to mention exhausted. I assured him that Gregory and the entire family will be in our prayers.
I hope to see you tomorrow. The service leaflet is attached.