No, this is not a picture of us in the Philippines. The palm tree is in Florida, where we went this week for the Diocese of the Central States’ synod meeting. It was a joy.
There were many familiar faces whom we have met before in our missionary deputation months past. Fr. Franklin Sanders and his wife Susan saw me eat spicy Mexican food for the third time, and chuckled at my wimpiness in the face of jalapeños.
Fr. Chris Herman moved me to tears yet again with his simple, direct, and oh-so-profound account of how God has worked through his ministry to the nursing home he visits: how he brings Christ’s love to those whom our heartless society has abandoned and warehoused until they can be buried, and how Christ has turned that gift around and blessed him and the other members of Christ Our Hope through those they share time with in that nursing home. Fr. Chris is a very special and very dear man to me. He was one of my examiners for my diaconal orders. I wear his stoles every time I vest. They are hard stoles to fill, but God is good.
We were delighted to meet Fr. Paul Edgerton from Church of the Redeemer in Wilson, NC. His parish was the first to pledge support for our mission without even meeting us first, so it was great to put a face to his name. And what a face! If Fr. Chris radiates the love of Christ, Fr. Paul is all about the joy of Christ. He was so enthusiastic about our ministry that Sora offered, only half in jest, “Do you want to get up and give our presentation to the synod for us?” Fr. Paul is always teasing. He spotted my Greek and Hebrew Bible. “I love it! A language nerd!”
Fr. Charlie Camlin was there to greet us again as well, though Deacon Kell and deacon-postulant Josiah Jones and his wife Story were prevented by school teaching duties. Theirs is another parish dear to our heart, and Sora was very glad to meet Fr. Charlie. I had visited his parish without her and told her midwifery stories.
It was also good to meet other rectors to whom we had spoken on the phone. Fr. Scott Houser shared an appreciation of classical languages, since his daughter is a classics major at U. of Dallas. Fr. John Heaton and I talked shop about classical Christian schooling (he’s the headmaster of an ACCS school in Lynchburg, VA, and I’ve spent 8 years teaching at Mars Hill Academy in Cincinnati.)
During the first service of Holy Communion on Thursday, Bishop Morse began the offertory sentences. I reached for my wallet as usual, and then stopped short when the bishop continued: “… this offering will be given to Matt and Sora Colvin to support their ministry to the Philippines.” Once again, we are floored, and have not the words adequate to the way we have been loved and commissioned and blessed by this church.
The highlight of the meeting for me was getting to cast a vote as a member of the diocesan clergy in the election of my own pastor, Fr. Peter Manto, as suffragan bishop. We’ll be out of the country when he’s consecrated, so I’m glad to have had the opportunity to participate.