Tuesday, 12 November 2013

My buddy the Bishop.

Lo all those many years ago (probably in 1986/87) when I was the Rector at St. Stephen's Parish, Pittsfield, MA  I invited parishioner Alex G to have lunch with me.

Alex G was a confirmed bachelor.  He was moderately wealthy.  He was notoriously frugal.

We met at the (now closed) "Stanley Club" on Bartlett Ave in Pittsfield.  The Stanley Club had been a semi-private eating place for the bosses and their wives at "The G.E." - at one time the major employer in Pittsfield, (more than 10,000 at the time of the Korean conflict).

By my day it was a "middling to good" eating place for all white collar folks - bankers, lawyers, clerics etc. It was a good place for private conversation  -  and it had an additional  small dining room where the Pittsfield clerics often met for "dining and whining".

A fabulous man, one Jim Trefy (Jim Tefry?) managed the place.  He was so well liked in Pittsfield - we called him Mr. "Fine and Dandy" 'cause whenever any person asked him "how are you?"  he would always say "fine and dandy".

So Alex G and I had a good lunch at the Stanley Club way back then.  I picked up the tab.

After lunch Alex and I wandered out to the parking lot.  He said "so when are you going to ask me?"

I responded with "ask you what?"

The wealthy but frugal Alex said "when are you going to ask me for money for the Church?"

I was dumfounded!  I told Alex that I had no intention to ask him for money, and that I was having lunch with him for the sheer pleasure.

He in turn was dumfounded.   It was "beyond his ken" that a Rector would treat him to a no agenda lunch.

From time to time in the four parishes I served in Massachusetts a parishioner or parishioners would invite me to a no agenda lunch or dinner.  Those meals were precious.  We were gathering around a meal table as sisters and brothers -  not as Rector and parishioner,

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The other week my "local" Bishop - the Rt. Revd. Dabney T. Smith was at the parish I attend and serve  - St. Boniface, Siesta Key -  for the funeral of the wife of our good Deacon, Alan Rogers.

Bishop Smith did not officiate. In fact he was there "all uninvited" because of his love and pastoral care for Alan.

After the service, forgetting all the Episcopal protocols, I greeted the Bishop by saying "how are you buddy?

We hugged, and then I asked  "Bishop Smith would you like to meet me for a no agenda lunch?"He responded with joyful alacrity.

Thus it is that my buddy the Bishop and I will have lunch on Wednesday 13th November, in Ellenton FL.

There will be no agenda.  We will share lunch as the servants of Jesus Christ who like and respect each other

For a minister/priest it does not get any better than this.

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