Grace REC and NEMA Synod in Scranton

We spent last week in Scranton, PA, at the house of the Rev. Paul and Beth Howden. We have been lovingly cared for by the Crums, the Millers, and the Sanders family during previous road trips, and the Howdens were yet another warm and welcoming host family for us. We’re especially thankful for their older kids, Timothy and Clarissa, who looked after our young ones and gave up bedroom space during our lengthy stay. Naomi enjoyed getting to know Lydia and her pet guinea pigs:

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We were very blessed by the Howden family’s musical talents. Here are Beth and her two oldest daughters performing a prelude before the morning prayer service on Friday:

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Matt and the Rev. Paul Howden:

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The Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic is full of parishes that are supportive of foreign missions. We either had already visited, or were scheduled to visit, the majority of parishes represented. It was great to greet familiar faces (Ven. Jon Abboud, the Rev. Greg Miller, the Rev. Mike Fitzpatrick, the Rev. David Crum, the Rev. Cedric Benner) and also to meet in person those rectors who have invited us in the coming week (the Rev. John Medvick, the Rev. Chiron Thompson, the Rev. Walter Hawkins, and the Rev. Jason Patterson). We were also glad to see Bishop Gillin for the second time, as well as Bishop Grote, the president of the REC’s Board of Foreign Missions.

It is a token of how much we have traveled that Pastor Crum took the opportunity of this third meeting with us to return to us a pillow that we had left at his house. We’ve put over 7000 miles on our van since we were with the Crums last, and have had enough time in the car to listen to the full text of the Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, read aloud by Rob Inglis, plus several other audiobooks.

We were also abundantly blessed to meet two rectors whose parishes have voted to support us even without a visit: the Rev. Robert Hackendorf of St. Luke’s REC in New Providence, NJ, and the Rev. Eric Jorgensen of St. Stephen’s in Maryland. Thank you for receiving us with such enthusiasm and encouragement! It is because of you that we are on track to go to the Philippines by the end of the year.

Matt with the Rev. Hackendorf, vested to lead Morning Prayer:

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We also corrected an earlier omission. We had visited St. Matthew’s in Havertown, PA, but didn’t get a photo of Archdeacon Abboud until the NEMA council:

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Bishops Hicks generously devoted the Friday morning offering to our ministry, just as Bishop Morse had done at the REC Central States Synod, and we were overwhelmed to see the clergy and lay delegates of the diocese contributing.

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