Thanks to Fr. Carl Lund for inviting Matt to visit Holy Trinity in Houston TX on Feb. 28, right after the Synod for the REC Diocese of Mid-America. It is a blessing to be able to combine trips, and it will be a pleasure to see Fr. Carl again.
On Monday, we will hit the road for a month long trip on which we will spend Sunday’s in five churches in NY, MD, and VA, with a stop for debriefing at the SAMS office in Ambridge, PA.
Here’s an updated schedule of visits as of January 15:
- Jan 8 – Christ Church, Ithaca, NY.
- Jan 10 – St. Stephens REC, Sykesville, MD
- Jan 12-13 – at SAMS office in Ambridge, PA
- Jan 17 – Bp. Cummins, Catonsville, MD
- Jan 24 – Holy Trinity, Fairfax, VA
- Jan 31 – St. Jude’s, Richmond, VA
- Feb 7-14 – Ash Wednesday in New Jersey: Covenant Chapel and St. Luke’s REC
- Feb 25-26 – Synod of REC Diocese of Mid-America
- Feb 28 – Holy Trinity, Houston
- March 6 – Christ Our Hope in Dayton, OH
- March 13 – St. Paul’s REC (Indiana, Fr. Daniel Sparks)
- March 27 – Easter (at TREC)
- April 3 – All Saints REC in Raleigh, NC
- April 7-10 – New Wineskins Conference in Asheville, NC
- April 12 – RE Seminary
- April 17 – St. Paul’s, Oreland with Dean of Indonesia, Timothy Chong.
- May 1 – St. Nicholas Church in Owensboro, KY (Dcn. Rob Sexton).
- May 8 – Grace Church, Circleville, OH (ACNA, Melanie Shuter)
- May 15 – Christ the King in Dayton, OH
- May 22 – St. Barnabas Anglican (ACNA) in Covington, KY.
- May 29 – St. Stephen’s REC in Flowood, MS
Last week, we enjoyed a visit from Canon Bill Jerdan (REC Board of Foreign Missions) and Bp. Peter Manto, the rector of Trinity Church, our home parish in Mason, OH.
They arrived around 12:00 on Saturday, but we had trouble getting to the airport in time to pick them up: an accident on he Pan-Philippine Highway had caused traffic to stop about half a kilometer from the airport entrance. Out came Sora’s iPhone, and we ducked across two lanes of traffic into a subdivision full of tiny one-lane streets arranged in a veritable labyrinth. I wish we had taken video of it: we had to fold in our mirrors to get past a few awkwardly parked vehicles, and at one point, a suprising dead end (construction) forced us to back up for two blocks and retrace our steps. But we did emerge, and past the accident.
This put us at the airport nearly half an hour past the time when we should have been there to pick up Bp. Manto and Canon Jerdan, but fortunately they had only recently emerged from customs and immigration, and had not been waiting long.
After depositing their bags, they went with me to buy albs at Colors Crew on Mabini St. in Marfori Heights, since the airline baggage weight limit had prevented them from bringing any (and vestments are very affordable here):
It was a short order, since we had planned a service of Holy Communion for our family and friends on Tuesday night. This would give only two and a half working days.
On Sunday, Bp. Manto and Canon Jerdan accompanied us to United Covenant Reformed Church of Davao, where they met Pastor Vic Bernales, Elders Allan Ostique and Ojie Bicaldo, and the rest of our friends from church. This was a meeting I was very glad to see, for I have always considered Anglicanism a way of being Protestant. (The Church of England historically has simply received, not reordained, continental Reformed ministers; and even such high churchmen as Laud and Cosin instructed Englishmen sojourning on the continent to partake of the Lord’s Supper in the Reformed churches, not at the Roman altars; and of course, the Church of England sent a delegation to the Synod of Dort.) I have been quite blessed by the ministry of Pastor Vic, and I could wish that Anglican churches had more cooperation with Reformed churches.
On Monday, Bp. Peter and Canon Bill toured the birth clinic. Clinic director Matt McNeil gave them a tour and explained the workings of the clinic and its vision for training missionary midwives. Sora happened to be supervising a birth room shift that morning.
I had left my car at a carwash, so we took two pedicabs to Victoria Plaza.
At noon, we headed to Faith Academy so Bp. Manto and Cn. Jerdan could see the campus and watch me teach my classes. Head of School Alan Farlin gave them a tour.
In the evening, we joined Pastor Bernales’ family and my Greek students for a meal of Filipino food at the Probinsya Buffet:
The following day, Tuesday, we received a visit from Abp. Frederick Luis Belmonte of the Anglican Church in the Philippines (Traditional). It was a very cordial visit. We discussed our respective ministries, prayed together, and exchanged presents — Canon Jerdan gave a presentation edition of the Reformed Episcopal Book of Common Prayer to the Archbishop, while he presented us with new stoles, which we wore later that day.
We took the Archbishop out for dinner at the Tiny Kitchen. When dinner was over, Sora took Bp. Manto and Canon Jerdan to pick up their just-finished albs while the Archbishop and I set up my Faith Academy classroom for the service of Holy Communion. Here’s a photo from dinner, which I include because all of our children managed to cooperate for the camera at the same time:
We then headed to Faith Academy again to worship God. All my Greek students showed up, along with the Bernales family and Elder Ojie and Jenette Camporedondo from our UCRC family. With help from Pr. Vic’s son Yuri on the piano, the congregation sang out and got a fair taste of an Anglican service. It was a true joy to serve the common cup to so many who have blessed us with their friendship and have ministered to and with us over the last two years. Our family was especially blessed to have Bp. Manto, our pastor for ten years, here to celebrate Holy Communion with us. It felt like Trinity Church had been magically transported to Davao City for an evening.
Thank you, Canon Jerdan and Bp. Manto, for taking the time to come visit our family. Your advice and sympathetic ears were very valuable, and your presence with us was a great encouragement to our whole family.
In October, I spent 10 days visiting Indonesia and Singapore. The purpose of that trip was to meet clergy in the diocese of Singapore, especially its deanery of Indonesia. Chief among these is the Rev. Dr. Timothy Chong, who is the dean of Indonesia, and has been tasked with setting up a seminary to train clergy there. My visit was a first step toward discerning whether the Lord may be calling our family to join in this work.
Dean Chong picked me up from the airport in Jakarta, put me up in hotels for nine nights, fed me royally in his own home and in restaurants, introduced me to his colleagues and parishioners, and showed me the greatest kindness and hospitality. It was a pleasure to talk with him, especially about the future of the Anglican church in Indonesia (Gereja Anglikan Indonesia, or GAI). We shared our views of the goals and methods of seminary education. Teaching Greek and biblical studies is my passion as a missionary, and the work of equipping pastors in the GAI would be a very exciting and fulfilling calling.
Being in Anglican circles meant dressing as an Anglican clergyman for a few days. (I do not generally wear clericals in the Philippines.) My fellow SAMS missionary, Gregory Whitaker, was the other American present at the consecration service in Singapore. I observed that he was the only priest wearing a black shirt, and I was the only one wearing a round collar.
By contrast, I was impressed by the beautiful batik clergy shirts that Dean Timothy Chong was wearing:
Dr. Chong took me to visit GAI churches in Jakarta and Bandung, plus a service of Holy Communion at a medium-security prison. The language barrier was a frustration, of course — I did not have a chance to acquire even the most basic Bahasa Indonesia before my visit — but a cheerful welcome and warm hospitality was the unfailing experience. (I’ll be sure to put some time into language study before my trip next June.) Here’s the bright purple hand-stamp we each received on entering. Mine stayed with me for five days!
At St. Paul’s Bible College in Bandung, I sat in on an Old Testament class and saw some lively student interaction with Dr. Gideon Limandibrata.
Hosting me for meals in Bandung and Singapore was the Rev. Yopie Buyung, also of St. Paul’s Bible College, who engaged me in a spirited discussion of whether we ought to see any Greek philosophy behind the Logos of John 1:1.
From Bandung, we went to Singapore for the consecration of two new assistant Bishops, the Rt. Rev. Kuan Kim Seng and the Rt. Rev. Low Jee King. I vested and processed with the other clergy. St. Andrew’s Cathedral is a most impressive structure. I imagine it was one of the tallest structures in Singapore when it was first built. It now occupies a serene area in the middle of bustling skyscrapers.
Please pray for the Diocese of Singapore and for the GAI, both for its present ministers and its future. There is immense potential for the gospel to be proclaimed and embodied in Indonesia.
Closing photo: the Prayer Book of the GAI, translated by a committee headed by Dean Timothy Chong.
The REC holds its General Council once every three years, and the Board of Foreign Missions invited its missionaries to attend. I was able to return to the States and spend a week with our home parish, staying with friends and worshipping together with them. Then the clergy from our parish drove to Blue Bell, PA for the three days of the council.
I gave a short presentation about our missionary work, and received many kind comments afterwards. I probably knew half the clergy present, thanks to our whirlwind tour of the Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in 2012. Very many parishes that support our missionary work were represented. I was also able to meet some supporters for the first time, including Deaconess Ruth Creswell and her husband Doug, who have been champions for us and have contributed generously for the rebuilding of the Cumpio Clinic in Leyte. It was a great privilege to be permitted to address the council.
It was also great to meet Bp. Jasmin Milić and see Bp. Gerhard Meyer again.
The highlight of the council was the passing of the baton from outgoing Presiding Bishop Leonard Riches to newly installed Presiding Bishop Royal Grote.
I was tremendously encouraged in our family’s missionary work by seeing so many people who have been become our senders. I really felt like “We are the REC’s special missionaries, and this church is really behind us 100%.” It’s a grest feeling, and it does wonders for a missionary’s morale. I will go back to Davao City on Monday full of encouragement and energy for the work we’re doing. I hope I can pass that on to Sora too!
Here are some photos:
Bishops at the installation service:
Bishops from the Free Church of England, and the REC in Germany and Croatia:
With Canon Bill Jerdan of te REC Board of Foreign Missions, Denise Cox and Stewart Wicker of SAMS, our wonderful missionary society, and Doug Creswell of St. Stephen’s REC in Maryland. This was after lunch in the “pink porch” where the clergy vested for the opening procession. Bp. Grote also took time out from his demanding schedule to stop by and ask how I was doing, how our family was, and how we feel about our future plans.
With Fr. Shola Falodun of All Saints Chicagoland, who is a friend and an unforgettable encouragement to us, with his charge, “You must show them Jesus!” Fr. Falodun arrived at the council just as I was leaving, so it was great to see him.
We had a delightful 10 days before Christmas, visiting the two REC parishes in Canada west of the Rockies. (We had previously visited St. George’s in Ontario.)
Our first stop was Holy Trinity in Colwood, BC, which is pastored by Bishop Dorrington. If anyone asks, “How is there a bishop for a diocese with two churches?”, the answer is that there are 18 other parishes in Cuba that are also under Bishop Dorrington’s missionary oversight. If you want encouragement and inspiration, read the story of how these Cuban churches came under the Bishop’s oversight, and how they are growing and thriving. It is a story full of God’s amazing providence and grace.
Bp. Dorrington was one of the clergy who baptized Sora some 14 years ago. (The other was Rev. Rod Ellis of the Church of Our Lord, whom we will see this Sunday.)
(Matt with Bishop Dorrington and Deacon Barry Lavine)
That same week, on Thursday, we went across the Georgia Strait to Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast to visit Pastor Theo Hoekstra and his family. Their church, Grace Covenant (CREC) was a home for us during our year on Texada Island in 2006-2007. Because we were “sore let and hindered” by BC Ferries, which canceled all its sailings on Wednesday due to gale-force winds, Grace Covenant kindly moved its Bible study to Thursday night, and gave us the whole time to present.
(View from the ferry on the way home from Gibsons. Click for larger version.)
The next Sunday, we drove over the Malahat to Courtenay, BC, to visit Living Word REC, pastored by the Rev. Bill Klock, who is a scholar and a gentleman. I knew Fr. Bill from Facebook, but we had never met in person. He graciously let me use his pulpit (sermon in text and audio may be found here) and gave us time to present our missionary plans to the congregation. After the service Fr. Bill and his wife Veronica invited us over to their house and fed us a delicious lunch.
(Fr. Klock with Matt and Hosanna)
We were also greatly blessed to stay overnight on Saturday at the house of two friends of Sora’s parents, Glenn and Denise. They are also Anglicans, as it turns out. More importantly, they are wonderful people, full of grace and love, who know how to exercise gifts of hospitality toward kids. The girls had a great time with a trunk full of dress-up clothes:
Just three days now! It is rather amazing to us just how many churches God has managed to send us to visit. Deputation is almost over, and it has been a joy. Just one parish left, and then off we go!