and here’s more
The intriguing month of October 2022 – Part B
This has been a very interesting and sometimes confounding month. Many milestones, a few bumpy moments, some sad and reflective times. I’ve decided to write you a long epistle, but break in down into parts so that you don’t get eye strain trying to read it all at once. However, I am not going to unfold the story in a time-relevant sequence, so you might have to go back once in a while to get the full context… Nevertheless, here goes:
I may have mentioned earlier that I was going to be in a couple of pulpits in October and that did come to pass. On the first Sunday of the month (2nd) I was at St. Andrew’s in Tweed Ontario. It had been part of the pastoral charge my father had between 1959 & 1964. In a predominately Roman Catholic town, it had been a struggling congregation when Dad arrived – when he left, it was a vibrant group of Presbyterians. Thus I was interested to see just what the congregation might be like six decades later.
The number of people who remembered Dad were few, but more did remember hearing about him and the resurgence that he led. One lady had been baptized by him and so for her it was special to at least meet his son (for some reason she did not remember the baptismal service!!). The organist I actually remember – his father had been Dad’s Clerk of Session (or senior lay person in the congregation). While he had been away at university, he did come home for holidays and so I had seen him at church suppers, picnics and the like. He is older than I am (at the time I was in high school at Madoc High – but more on that later), but he is still a vibrant individual. In fact he is the organist and plays with a gusto that would put some Baptists in their place. Thus, while there was not a large congregation present, it sang as if they were!
The post-service time of visiting was very upbeat too. We had numerous conversations about the future of the church, both in Tweed and the larger society. They are currently without a minister, but once they got one I am sure they will be a dynamic force in the community. They already do a number of positive social outreach activities and the church is centrally located in the town so it can serve a number of functions beyond simply being home to the faithful flock. I was very glad that I had the opportunity to preach in one of Dad’s pulpits again; more importantly I was heartened by the number of comments that I received that indicated they would like me to come back and work with them. While that isn’t going to happen anytime soon, I did indicate should they ever need a listening ear, I would be available for a ZOOM conversation.
The second Sunday (9th) saw me in St. Peter’s Presbyterian in Madoc. I have preached there before but this time I was guest of their new minister (who hails originally from South America). He is full of energy and I so enjoyed being in his company. The service was well attended and my message seemed to resonate.
More rewarding perhaps to me was the fact that numerous people came who were from my high school days (or at least connected to those days). The latter was the appearance of the daughter of a close high school friend – I had not seen her since she was a little kid so that was neat. She had lots of questions about where here grandma had sat (and thus where her dad, uncle & grandpa had as well) and what was the church like in my Dad’s day. So that was a bit of walking down memory lane. Then a couple of others were actual school mates of mine (though not in the same grade) and they brought some of their offspring to meet Sinc. That was cool in that to know there is another generation already beyond high school days gave a bit of perspective to just how long ago I lived there. That in itself is a humbling moment. There also was a friend of my mother’s in attendance which was very special – while younger by a decade she was part of the family that operated the Ford dealership which in turn gave Dad a special deal each year on a new Ford (‘61 Falcon, ‘62 Falcon, ‘63 Fairlane, ‘64 Custom). Her son came too, although he remembered my younger brother as they were closer in age. Another person had been baptized by my father; but in this case, I well knew her parents, both of whom have passed on.
So again, it was a delightful moment to reflect on my past and also see the long-term evolution of Dad’s legacy. It made for a great Sunday. Afterwards, one of the MHS school friends who has been very good and supportive especially when I was writing my book, took me out to lunch at the local 62/7 craft brewery (owned/operated by a member of the congregation) – this seemed like a most appropriate conclusion to the visit as it demonstrated one of the noticeable differences in the world of the early 60’s and now – back then there was no alcohol in our household, now I continually try to make up for that deprivation!!
The final Sunday of note was the 23rd when I was in Edmonton for a conference that I will discuss in another part of this Chapter. I went to First Presbyterian in Edmonton. I had been a member there at the turn of the millennium as I was a good friend of the minister at the time. Since then he has died and a new minister has been in the pulpit quite a number of years. He was away, but it didn’t really matter. I never go there for the sermon, as the pulpit is not rock solid; but the music is phenomenal. The woman & man (who are partners, and on Faculty at the U of A) share the playing of the organ and grand piano as well as conducting the choir. On that Sunday the choir made up perhaps one-third of the total attendees and were they ever good. Not only do they lead the congregation in joyfully singing the hymns, their anthems and/or solos are simply amazing. The order of service is approaching high church with the number of musical responses interspersed throughout the proceedings. I thoroughly enjoyed that hour of spiritual restoration and I stayed right to the end so I also was able to listen to the organ postlude which was thunderous…
October has been a good month in my spiritual journey.