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
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.
On Friday, our family prayed together, then the kids and I laid hands on Sora and asked the Lord to watch over her and bless her work. Krys M., the director of the birth clinic here in Davao then drove Sora to the airport. She went first to Manila, where she stayed overnight because weather had delayed her flight. Then on Saturday, she boarded a plane to Tacloban, the capital of the province of Leyte. From there, she got a ride to Dulag, a smaller town where she will be working with a team of Filipina and international midwives in a field birth clinic. It is situated in a school building that was de-roofed by the super typhoon last year; though the building now has some roofing, the clinic is still in tents. There are 6 Filipina midwives and international volunteers, including a midwife from Poland and one from New Zealand.
Sora texted me that traces of the typhoon’s devastation are still everywhere. She also said that she has no internet (expected), and that her cell phone only has reception in a certain 3-foot square. We texted for a while in that spot, but I’m not expecting further regular communications.
Instead, Sora will be writing in a paper notebook with a pen and taking photos with her phone, and she will blog about the four weeks when she returns. If she texts me anything further before then, I’ll of course post it.
A recent episode of Anglican Unscripted reported on the New Wineskins conference. (I believe our beloved Canon Bill Jerdan and some folks from SAMS USA were there.) What struck the hosts Kevin and George most strongly at that conference was the way in which Internet technology is changing the way missionaries relate to their senders and churches. There is no more mailing of videotapes; no more wait of weeks to receive letters. Everything is instant. This benefits missionaries as well as churches.
We use Skype and Apple’s Facetime to keep in touch with our two oldest kids in Canada. I also have continued to teach the same Bible study that I have have taught for 9 years at our parish in Cincinnati. It is a study that for years has met over breakfast with sausage and bacon, so that I like to joke that it is “full of grease and truth”. I can’t be in the same room anymore, but I eat my liempo or lechon while my beloved friends eat their bacon, and we still have good discussions about the Scriptures. Two weeks ago, I was a virtual “greeter”, waving to our parish’s members from a computer screen set up in the narthex before the service.
Another monthly email newsletter is on the way out this week, to find its place on church bulletin boards. But we would love to Skype with any of our senders or churches who are interested. Drop us an email and let us know what time is good for you.
Technology is great, but we know how special it is when our friends write to us on paper, so we try to reciprocate. This week, Naomi wrote one letter (with extra artwork by Hosanna) and I wrote another. I sat down at a table with stationery and a fountain pen (of course!) and filled four pages. It was really quite soothing.
Then I took the two letters in their stripey international envelopes to the post office in Victoria Plaza, located near the comical fast food restaurant, Jollibee.
The clerk took them, squeezed the air out of the envelopes, and ran them through a machine that pressed them with red ink (not adhesive stamps). I slid my pesos under the glass, and took the letters to the mailbox up the steps.
Wendy and Susan, you may expect them soon!
We’ve been in Philadelphia since November 11th, visiting several Reformed Episcopal parishes, the seminary, and Christ Academy. As always with the REC, we have been welcomed with open arms and warm hearts.
Our first stop was St. Paul’s in Oreland, where we were treated to lunch after the service by the Rev. John and Vicki Medvick. (Picture above shows Rev. John Medvick, Matt & Sora, and Rev. Dcn. Russ Buchanan.) I preached in the Morning Prayer service, and you can download that sermon, on the “Taxes to Caesar” question, here. Many thanks to Pastor Medvick and his family for making our visit a very pleasant one. Thanks also to his son Alex for taking some great photos of our kids! Here’s my favorite: Naomi running around the house in the beautiful autumn light.
On Monday, we took a one-day trip down to Washington, DC, for Sora to attend a conference on breech birth. Three of the other Cincinnati area midwives were there, as were many celebrities of the midwifery world. I took the kids to the national zoo. While there, I got this video of Naomi reciting William Blake’s Tyger, Tyger while an actual tiger prowls behind her:
On our return to Philly, we took a day off and went to the UPenn Museum of Archaeology, which had some really wonderful artifacts.
(Photo of me with a replica of the code of Hammurabi, a document which I have shown in pictures and discussed with a decade of Antiquity students.)
With Sunday’s sermon still in mind, we had Isaiah obey Jesus’ command to “Show me a denarius” – the right one, from the reign of Tiberius.
On Wednesday morning, we visited Christ Academy, which is run by Grace REC in Collingdale, and is a boys’ school serving mostly the sons of Liberian immigrants. The questions we got from these kids after our presentation were outstanding. They cut to the heart of missionary work, asking us how we planned to maintain our kids’ identity as Americans despite moving to the Philippines (answer: we know we can’t, at least not fully, and anyway, it’s important that they be citizens of Christ’s kingdom.)
The rector of Grace Church, Collingdale, is Fr. Mike Fitzpatrick, who is an inspiration. It is a very great joy to hear him tell stories of his urban ministry and the immigrant families from Africa who make up so much of his congregation. This is a church that is truly ministering to the hurts of God’s children, rather than trying to pretend that they are all perfect. We’ll be with them on Sunday evening next week.
Wednesday evening, we were blessed to attend a joint evening prayer service of the Church of the Atonement and Church of the Messiah, two congregations pastured by the Rev. Walter Hawkins and the Rev. Chiron Thompson, respectively. We had met them at the NEMA Council, and it was a pleasure to see them again. Deacon Holloway was also present, along with his wife and new baby.
Thursday morning saw me preaching again, this time at the REC Seminary in Blue Bell. Since it was a Holy Communion service, the propers were the same as on Sunday at St. Paul’s, but I have a policy of not preaching the same sermon twice (a policy created after trying to give a sermon a second time to a different congregation, and failing because it wasn’t new to me). So I preached on the reading from the epistle, Philippians 3. You can listen to that sermon here.
Many thanks to the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Riches and Bishop Hicks for welcoming us and making us feel at home in the seminary. We also got to meet Presiding Bishop Leonard Riches, who let me sit in on a bit of his last class of the semester on the 39 Articles.
Tomorrow we have a day off, and hope to catch up a bit on the lost homeschooling. On Sunday, I’ll preach a third time, at St. Mark’s in Rydal (the Rev. Jason Patterson, rector). I’ll try to record and post that one, too.