Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pittsburgh and the CEEC

The "Great Leap" continued: from California to Pittsburgh and beyond; from student to missionary.

I completed my June 2006 visit with the Church Army folks in Pennsylvania, where Church Army's "Common Grounds Café" is a light in the darkness and symbol for hope in downtown Aliquippa, the blighted 'ground zero' for the devastation wrought by the closure of the steel mills in the U.S. Every person who walks through the Café door is a ministry opportunity, and the rooms over the café would soon be readied for use as classrooms for life skills training, in cooperation with other social services in the area. But God had more for me in Pennsylvania that I had not anticipated.

.. Early in my visit, I began attending
two house churches led by Fr. Alan Morris, a priest of the CEEC (Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches).

He taught fervently on the need for discipleship.

He said, "The Great Commission--'Go and make disciples'--is not optional, unless God has given you special dispensation to do otherwise."

On June 24 I attended two ordinations. The first was of three Trinity seminary graduates being ordained by Archbishop Russell McLanahan of the CEEC, in which I was crucifer and read the Psalm.

.. All of these photos are from the
second ordination, of seminary student Michael Baba Yemba of Sudan.

Michael Baba Yemba was ordained by Bishop Ezekiel Kondo of the Sudan.



Bishop Ezekiel Kondo was assisted by Archbishop Russell McClanahan of the CEEC,

Bishop John Rodgers of the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA),


and by Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt (seen here standing with Archbishop McClanahan),

and by Bishops Robert Duncan and Henry Scriven of Pittsburgh.


Here is the newly ordained Michael Baba Yemba standing pensively as Archbishop McClanahan talks with Bishop Kondo .

. At the reception following this service there was an animated and hopeful conversation about future possibilities in the Anglican Communion. .. The conversation was sparked and led by Bp. Scriven, assistant to Bp. Duncan, moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, working to "contend for the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).

Next post in the Great Leap series: on to Branson, Missouri.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Great Leap: Ahead to Aliquippa

.. Driving
east through the Navajo Nation brought me to Four Corners: a lonely vendor's complex clustered around the intersection of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. Here is the monument at the intersection. Ominous signs warned that only two people were permitted to stand on the monument at a time.
Durango, Colorado, is the jumping-off place for a real old-timey wild west train ride. However, I missed the last train, and had to settle for a photo of the empty train station.

Crossing over the Rockies at 11,000 feet elevation, I passed through this snow field in the pass--in the middle of May! .


Fixed the flat tire in Colorado Springs. Here's a view looking back towards Pike's Peak. ..

And then there's Kansas. I stumbled across the town of Alma, ..
Kansas, which boasted of the Famous Alma Cheese. So I detoured into downtown Alma (a zero-stop-light town), bought two pounds of Alma Cheese at the Alma gas station (the only store open), and mailed it to my 90-year-old mother, Alma. .. Somebody help me here: What city am I driving through?

Arrived in Pittsburgh, PA, on Thursday, May 18, where my interview with the head of Church Army USA had to be postponed while he went into the hospital for surgery. The assistant rector of my church had recommended that I check out Church Army for mission work; he said, "They take in misfits."

Near Pittsburgh is the town of Aliquippa, devastated by the demise of the U.S. steel industry. Church Army Aliquippa took over this ruined building with the intention of turning it into a coffee house and meeting place for ministry. .. This is John Stanley, the Aussie missionary that worked this project until a successful coffee and lunch shop was in operation; a beacon of hope in a devastated town. Classrooms are upstairs. .. This summer the town of Aliquippa was struck by an unusual flash flood that ruined the downstairs coffee shop. Church Army Aliquippa is currently picking up the pieces and starting over again.

Next: On to Branson, Missouri.

...And Back Again; plus, a Side Trip to the End of the Universe

Early morning view of the Grand Canyon South Rim from below. .. ..

A nine hour hike back to the top of the trail: Months of inactivity and 20 extra pounds of paunch make for a long trudge.

Nearing the top, I began to encounter day hikers strolling down from above.

Here is one of my fellow hikers this fine sunshining day.

Once on top (and after a lengthy recuperation period), I explored the easterly rim of the Grand Canyon by car. .
. Overnight at Grandview Point; these are the morning photos. .. So now I was ready to head into Indian country: complete with car, theological library, kitchen, bedroom, office, and bicycle. .. Here is my side trip to Monument Valley, an awesome accolade to the Almighty. This national park is managed by the Navajo Nation. .. "And the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle" (Exodus 40). .. .... The road back up out of Monument Valley features a view of the Res-taurant at the End of the Universe perched at the top of the cliff.

Zaphod Beeblebrox, the Maitre' De, was, unfortunately, off duty when I ate there. But they do have excellent mutton and Indian frybread. .. This Navajo-run campground above Monument Valley brought me many blessings, including a view of this sunset scene, my first shower in several days, and two nails in my tires.

Next: From the desert to the snowfields.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Great Leap Day Two: There...

Journal entry: 8:00pm Wednesday: I'm so tired. I slept 3 hours in the car this morning and now I'm going to sleep 6 hours in the car tonight in the parking lot at South Rim. I set my alarm for 4am so I can leave at first light. -- 1:30am Thur: Psalm 50:24 - Those who keep my way I will show the salvation of God. .. I flagged down a passing group of Japanese tourists starting down the trail to snap my picture leaning on my walking stick.
Here are the mule-skinners preparing the mules for the trip down. You could readily tell the real mule-skinners (the ones who really owned mules) from the rest of them: they owned their own gear; their mules did not have the cookie-cutter look of the rest of the pack train.

From about a mile down Bright Angel Trail, here is the view looking back up at the South Rim: .

. And a view of the South Rim from my campsite in Indian Gardens: .. From the same site, here's the view looking toward the North Rim: .. And again from the same site, here's a doe and her two fawns resting 15 feet from the edge of my campsite. They watched with aplomb and mild interest as I set up my backpacker's tent. .. With my camp all set up, I headed out the trail to Plateau Point. This is the view looking back toward Indian Gardens, the area of green trees at center. .. The Plateau trail was graced by colorful and flowering cacti. .. .. .. Reaching the Point, I was astounded to encounter two California Condors about 20 feet from the trail, watching me with the same mild interest and aplomb as the deer. I suppose that if I had fallen over the cliff, it would have aroused their interest, and perhaps even their appetites. .. The park rangers say that cave evidence shows that California condors lived in the Grand canyon for thousands of years. Released into the wild, these condors quickly found the same caves where their ancestors had lived.

The first two condors I saw were tagged as number 48 (hatched in captivity) and number A (born in the wild) As the afternoon rolled on, number 19 flew in from above and joined them. .. ..









Looking 800 feet straight down to the Colorado River, I watched groups of people floating down the river in rafts. .

. Journal Entry: 8:00pm - What grander bird could there be to grace the Grand Canyon. They showed no fear. -- I forgot my pill bottle. I've been limping along with the help of some Alkaseltzer and a borrowed Ibuprofen.

Next Post: "...and back again."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Videographer's and Bishop's Assistant

Friday through Monday, I assisted Kevin Kallsen of Anglican TV as he covered the Episcopal Church house of bishops meeting in New Orleans and interviewed Bishop Bob Duncan.


On Sunday, I assisted Fr. Jerry Kramer and Bishop James Adams to confirm 10 members at the Free Church of the Annunciation in New Orleans. Kevin videotaped at that service and posted it here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

GO! Great Leap, Day One

Waystation: The Grand Canyon.. Here's a brief review of the days leading up to the Great Leap:
Day -4: Picked up my thesis from the bookbinder, copies to Vanguard, major libraries and major scholars on the letter of Jude.
.. Day -3: Commencement exercises at Vanguard. Friends and family members came from all over, including St. James and St. Davids. Here's my daughter Amber, a recent grad herself, with a B.A. in biology and plant science.
Day -2: Attended church at St. James; drove to Indian Wells to drop off most of my theological library in Mom's garage.
Day -1: To the printer with the final galleys of The Catholic Apostolic Church in America, edited by my mother and published for her by me.
Day Zero: Six a.m. bible study at St. James. Loaded my entire apartment (that is, my 9 by 12 room) into my car. Evening small group; prayers and sendoff.

Great Leap Day 1: Wednesday May 10, 30 minutes after midnight: Got the security deposit back from my landlord, aired up the tires (I'm packing quite a bit of weight), and hit the highway. Slept in the car at a roadside rest; arrived at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at 1:00 in the afternoon. .
. The view from the South Rim humbles the soul. What hath God Wrought? Waves of joy washed over me, and I felt like bursting out laughing--or crying.
What a mighty God we have! What a loving God we have! .. Here's a view of the South Rim, where I landed one of the coveted overnight hiking permits for the following day, Thursday.
.. This is Bright Angel Trail, which I will have to share with the mule trains.
Here is one of the mule-borne parties coming up the trail Wednesday afternoon.
I'll hike down Bright Angel in the morning, and camp overnight at Indian Gardens.
Indian Gardens is in the grove of green trees at the center of the photo below.
An Edenic pastoral surprise awaited me there. .
. Beyond Indian Gardens you can see the trail which leads to Plateau Point, at the edge of the Inner Gorge of the Grand Canyon. From this point there are sheer cliffs plunging 800 feet straight down to the Colorado River. Three quite astounding and unexpected creatures waited for me there. Again I slept in the car, this time in the parking lot of the South Rim.

To see the Next Post in the Great Leap series,
CLICK HERE: There... (but not yet Back Again).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Pre-Leap #2: Get Set!

In April 2006, after four solid months of sitting in front of my computer moving nothing but my fingers (and gaining 20 pounds of paunch), I successfully defended my thesis, Jude and the Scoffers. Graduation was not until May. One month of time off! .. With the extra time off, I lead a team from St. James on a mission/relief trip to New Orleans. Here is the "Moonwalk" in New Orleans along the Mississippi River.

The six of us from St. James pitched in at Annunciation's relief center, handing out everything from dustmasks to diapers. .. This is the Annunciation campus, in the morning setting up the distribution center. The trailer with the cross is the "doublewide" where services and meetings were held; the trailer to its right held a temporary medical clinic; and the building above it is a former rectory. All this land was under 8 feet of water.

We also went out on assignment to muck out a house not far away. .. Here is the 81-year-old Fr. Cam (in the yellow hardhat) helping to muck out this house, which also had 8 feet of water in it. Fr. Cam and I drove his mini-pickup from California to Louisiana and back for this trip, 200-mile shifts, non-stop except for meals.

I borrowed Cam's truck and drove the 70 miles to Pass Christian, Mississippi, to visit Fr. James Giles at God's Katrina Kitchen. (GKK).. This is the GKK dining tent. At the time they were also operating a relief supplies distribution center. GKK was housing and feeding dozens of church mission groups who came to the Gulf Coast to muck out, clean up, and rebuild.

James and I drove out as far as you could go on the ruined Highway 90, approaching the ruined bridge to Bay St. Louis. .. Here we talked of many things, indeed, of cabbages and kings. James helped confirm for me my call to the order of deacons. Was this to be my new job site? I still did not know, but I was itchy as a frog on a lilypad in a thunderstorm. But first I had to go back to California for Graduation.