Visit back to Cincinnati; Consecration; Ordination

I’m pretty much recovered from the jet lag, so it’s time to blog about my trip back to the States this past week. I spent 80 hours in transit, and 120 hours in Cincinnati.

Many thanks to my hosts for the week, Tim and Mary G. of our home parish, Trinity REC in Mason. They very graciously kept me warm and fed for the week, and regaled me with conversation, wine, and the good company of old friends. They also hosted my friend and theirs, Mark Butler and his son William, who came up for the consecration on Saturday of our beloved rector, Peter Manto, as the newest bishop in the REC (suffragan in the Diocese of the Central States) – as well as for my own ordination on the next day.

Before the consecration, I had a pleasant meeting with Bishop Royal Grote and Canon Bill Jerdan, who represent the REC’s Board of Foreign Missions. We talked about the past year and plans for the future. I am very thankful to have these men in authority over us; they are truly looking out for our best interests and seeking to help us serve the Lord.

The consecration service was a beautiful ceremony with no less than 6 bishops, 1 archdeacon, 17 priests, 2 deacons (myself and David T., also of Trinity), and 2 deaconesses in attendance.

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I have spent the best years of my life as a sheep in the flock of this shepherd:

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Fr. Peter – it is only with effort that I drop the label “father” in favor of “bishop”, for he has been a father to me – has helped me with encouragement, forgiveness, wise counsel, and a steady and unwearied presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ from pulpit and table for the last decade.

That same day, Saturday, I paid a surprise visit to the Mars Hill Academy Madrigal Dinner. Mr. Butler and Mr. Giese’s son Andy smuggled me into the building of Covenant First Presbyterian, and hid me in a back room until I emerged in full costume as the Lord High Chamberlain, a role I have played in the past. The looks of astonishment on the faces of my former students were priceless.

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On Sunday, the ordination service was held for David Truax, myself, and William Smith, a presbyter transferring into the REC from the PCA. It was a delight to worship in Trinity’s renovated sanctuary, with stone tile on the floor of the chancel, and much better lighting. Bishop Morse handed me the Biblia Graeca with the charge to preach the Word:
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No doubt partly because of the consecration the previous day, there was a large number of REC clergy present:

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I was especially pleased by the presence of some of the REC clergy through whom God has most blessed our family’s history: Bp. Peter, Dcn. (then shortly, Fr.) Truax, Bp. Morse, Fr. Wayne McNamara, Fr. Chris Herman, Fr. Mike Fitzpatrick, and Fr. Franklin Sanders were all present. Some others who had been present at Bp. Peter’s consecration the previous day have also been a great encouragement to me: Fr. Paul Edgerton, Fr. Harry Mathis, and Fr. Charlie Camlin. It was a privilege to have three bishops present: Bp. David Hicks of REC-NEMA stayed an extra day and attended the ordination service as well.

I had a good trip both there and back again: despite a weather delay in Chicago, and a missed flight in Tokyo (Narita), I ended up in Manila in plenty of time to catch the flight to Davao City. I only regret that I could not stay longer to see more of our friends and supporters.

I was halfway expecting to be conquered by homesickness and not want to return to the Philippines, but the effect of seeing all our friends and home church and fellow REC clergy was exactly the opposite: the overwhelming majority of people I knew both on Saturday and on Sunday are actually supporters of our missionary work. So while they are our dearest friends, they are also a visible reminder of the great ministry that has been entrusted to me and Sora here in the Philippines. It is a great honor to represent them as we build relationships with our Filipino brothers and sisters.

Thank you for your prayers!

Below, you see the clerical collar I wore on the 45 hour trip back to Davao.

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Whirlwind Tour of Philadelphia RECs, Two Sermons

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.

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

Visit to Bishop Cummins REC

I spent the first half of last week doing my first solo deputation visit. Bishop Cummins REC in Ellicott City, MD (suburbs of Baltimore) invited me to speak at their missions conference. Many thanks to the Albright family for hosting me during my stay, and to Pastor Crum and his wife Jill, who served me a delicious supper on the Lord’s Day after the service. Pastor Crum is a military man, and had been to the Philippines several times during his years of service, including on an aircraft carrier.

Sora likes to be in charge of things, so it was a bit of a challenge for her to trust me to do the whole visit on my own, 500 miles away. In the event, it went very well.

This marked the first time we used our retractable banner display. Many thanks to our team member and supporter Keith for drawing it up for us:

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Technology is always fraught with peril – many is the missionary on deputation who has hoped to show a sideshow from his computer, only to have some crucial component break down. But this time, things went swimmingly, thanks in part to Walter Seymour, who helped me get the projector screen set up, and provided an extension cord.

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I installed Keynote on my iPad, and found it absolutely terrific for giving a presentation. This will eliminate the need to bring a computer to any future church visits: the iPad will fit in the projector bag. Now I need to start packing my own extension cord!

The congregation at Bishop Cummins is very missions-minded, and it showed in the excellent questions they asked after my presentation.

Pastor Crum has invited me to return later this year with Sora. I hope that will come to pass!