Monday, 16 November 2015

Visiting Atlanta again

In 1991 I spent three months of sabbatical leave in Atlanta.   I hung my hat and shared in ministry at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Peachtree Street, and I took three one semester courses at the Interdenominational Theological Center at Atlanta University.

I've made a fair number of visits to Atlanta since I moved to Sarasota.

It all began when I stayed with friends in Atlanta on my way down from Cambridge, MA to Sarasota FL.

Later I was there on two different occasions with two different Brazilian friends, both of whom were determined to visit the CNN Centre and the "World of Coke" before they returned to their homeland.

(Atlanta is famous in many other countries simply because of CNN and Coke!)

I was in ATL again for the ordination to the priesthood of my friend Tracy Wells Miller (to Atlanta on a morning flight, back home on an evening flight._

On three of these visits I was able to see my Atlanta area based pals Susan Hughes and Lisa Coston. Woot woot!

I was there again Nov 14/15 2015 for a party.  More about this in a minute.

My hotel was in Alpharetta.  I took advantage of an early arrival to visit and have tea with a woman with whom I had attended the same school on Bristol, UK (and her husband).

We were at school together from 1955-1960.  We scarcely knew each other in those school days, and we've never been together in the intervening 55 years.

Nonetheless we had a lovely time together with our sour and sweet memories of a school in which we had been imprisoned for five year.

She was Christine Stoate then, from a suburb of Bristol named Whitchurch.  Now she is Christine Haslam, and her husband is Tom.

\Tom and Christine Haslam.


Then came the party!  Oh what a great party!

It was a gathering of family and friends of Rick Freeman and Steve Card.

I met Rick for the first time in 2006 on my ride down from MA to FL.

I've known Steve since 1976.  His mother (Ruth Card) and his Grandmother (Annie Speed) were faithful worshipers at the the Church of the Good Shepherd in Fitchburg, MA, where I was the Minister from 1976 - 1980.

Steve  and his (former) wife Sue would come up to Fitchburg to visit his Mum and Grandma.

I hooked up with them again in 1991 in their Roswell GA home  during my Atlanta based sabbatical.  By then they had two children, Amanda and Matthew.

Of course my "gaydar" had been utterly accurate when, on my first encounter with Steve  and Sue,  I sussed that he was gay.

In due course Steve and Sue had the most amicable divorce you could ever imagine.


Nineteen years ago Steve met Rick, since when they have been faithful partners. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court they were able to get married this year..

The party was not a wedding reception, rather it was a celebration with friends and family.

And, oh what a celebration it was!

Steve's daughter and his  son were there with their spouses.

Rick's sister and her husband were there.  His brother and his wife were there,   Rick's 82 years old father was there, and when he was introduced he raced forward to hug first Steve, and then Rick.

The guests were young and old. Some were Christians, some were "nones", some were Muslims.  Let me repeat that again, SOME WERE MUSLIMS: (put that in your pipes and smoke it you Islamaphobes!).

I got to be very teary eyed  because I knew that I was participating in a celebration of a profound (and good) cultural change. Whoever could have anticipated that there would be a joyful celebration of a same sex marriage in an "Old South" State such as Georgia.

A cousin of Steve, one Ward Symonds was there with his spouse, having flown in from San Antonia, Texas.     Ward is the son of the late Les and Jessie Symonds who were also dear friends and parishioners at CGS in Fitchburg.

I had not seen Ward in oh so many years, so it was a joy and pleasure to sit at dinner with them, and to share some many precious memories.

* ( I am having a brain fart, so for the life of me I cannot recall the name of Ward's (second) wife.  Forgive me  please  -  I plead  the fifth since I met her for the very first time last Saturday).


Rick (l), Steve (r)  Please excuse the poor quality of this photo'.  We were in a Tent after the Sun had gone down

1 comment:

  1. Glad you could share that wonderful occasion m. Blessing on all your friends.