Faithful Servants of Christ   1 comment

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Above:  Gordon Bienvenue (Center), at the Diocesan Ministry Fair Held at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Saturday, April 13, 2013

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

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The population of Athens-Clarke County changes as students come and go, retirees move to town, and people move away or die.  Thus the congregation of St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, my parish, has an ever-changing quality about it.  I have been here since August 2005, so I will, God willing, begin my ninth year at St. Gregory the Great Church, in a few months.  I have seen graduates move away, members migrate to other churches (including the other Episcopal congregation in town), come from other churches (including the other Episcopal congregation in town), and come to faith in our midst.  People I have come to like and respect very much have died.  And I have forged new friendships.

I look out from my perch in the choir (along a back wall) and see clergymen of other denominations.  One retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregation in town died recently;  he had attended services at St. Gregory the Great Church for years.  His widow continues to attend.  A United Church of Christ (UCC) minister and his family have joined our community.  A more recent addition to the community is Gordon Bienvenue, a retired United Methodist minister, of whom I have more to write, all of it positive.

Gordon and Katie, his wife, have become integral parts of St. Gregory the Great Church.  I have not had the opportunities to interact with them as often as I would like, but hopefully time will correct that.  Gordon writes lovely icons.  He has delivered sermons, something he has been glad to do.  Gordon has also assisted at the altar, distributing communion bread and gluten-free wafers, sometimes with planning and sometimes not, but always to the priest’s relief.

Our Rector is Beth Long, of whom I have only positive comments as a priest and a human being.  She is to my theological left.  I, after having spent too much time as the resident heretic in a succession of congregations, find myself, without having changed my mind much, on the relative right in a church.  Actually, I enjoy learning from people to my left.  I even relish the fact that they are there.  And I do to them as I wish many people to my right had done to me.  Beth is, simply put, well-equipped for her duties.  She is in the right place at the right time.  And I thank God for her and that fact.

Beth, due to canonical reasons, may consecrate the bread and wine of the Holy Eucharist at St. Gregory the Great Church, but Gordon Bienvenue may not do so.  (I would not object to those with the power to change that rule doing so.)  Anyhow, an allergy has affected Beth’s voice adversely recently.  A few Sundays ago Gordon preached.  Later, after Beth had done what the canons required her to, she rested her voice and Gordon distributed the bread and gluten-free wafers.  Last Sunday, as Beth began to distribute the bread and the gluten-free wafers, her voice required rest.  So Gordon stepped up and took up the task.  Beth was glad.

It is good to attend church with such people–individuals who serve God gladly, with or without notice.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BOOK OF CONFESSIONS, 1967

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LUKE KIRBY, THOMAS COTTAM, WILLIAM FILBY, AND LAURENCE RICHARDSON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

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  1. Pingback: Guide to Posts About the United Church of Christ | BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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