“A View From the Pew Part Two”

Doesn’t that title inspire you to want to write your own poem?  I will spare you mine.   Today I want to take you on a ride with a man who moved here from Camaroon a few years ago.  He picked us up at the Indiana Convention Center on Monday night, after we had just listened to a most powerful sermon by Dr. Serene Jones, who is the President of Union Theological Seminary in NYC.   I have known Serene for 42 years.  I think the last time I saw her she was in 9th grade.  Her father, Dr. Joe Jones, was Dean of Phillips Seminary when I was there from 1974-77.  On July 31st, 1977 (40 years ago) he preached my ordination sermon at Central Christian Church in Pueblo.  It was in the midst of Serene’s sermon that the ‘little voice’ that never lies to me said, “You have much more work to do…and you can do it.”  That was all I heard except maybe these words from my ordination spoken by her father Joe, “Give your life to things worthy of giving your life to”.  All this is to say that when Benjamin picked us up, I was wound up.  Now I know my family and friends have never seen me in this state, but it happened.  (I was once told by a friend, “Pumphrey you are other peoples’ gasoline”).

We got in his beautiful black Altima which was spotless and I felt like a rock star.  We headed out west to our hotel which was about 12 miles away.  He very quickly began to ask me about the convention and “tell me about who the Disciples of Christ are”?   It became apparent to me that I was in conversation with a bright and educated man.  I detected an accent and asked him where he was from.  “I moved here from Camaroon about 15 years ago.  I was in the process of becoming a Roman Catholic priest.  I have my Master of Divinity and an MBA.  It was when I came here that I realized that I could not commit to not being married.  I did not leave the church, but rather admitted I could not live my life without a partner.”  We had a very engaging conversation about the state of Christianity in the world.  We both agreed that these are the worst of times and the best of times for the church, but the Gospel (God LOVES EVERYONE) is on the move.

He then told us a beautiful story of his family here.  One of the reasons he did not become a priest was that he wanted to have children.  He married 12 years ago.  Children never came.  They finally decided to begin the adoption process of becoming parents and “Then about three years ago when we least expected it… well, let me show you her picture.”  What I saw was a most radiant two year old whose father is from Africa and whose mother in the great-great-grandaughter of slaves. 

Benjamin drives for Lyft and Uber full time and he does a great job.  However, we both agreed “we are not done yet.”

Onward and Upward,

Mark

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