Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Changing of the Guard

It had not been a propitious morning at Church for Mother and Alfred, and perhaps not for most of the congregation. It should be noted that acid-tongued Moana Crutchley actually appeared to be gloating. And certainly Ima Hatchet would have been delighted. After all Father Goodfellow had given her marching papers and she was now well ensconced and infecting another parish.

What had happened was simply this, Father Goodfellow had announced at the morning service that he had accepted a call to be the Rector of St. Walburga’s in Franklin.

Alfred took off his blue blazer, took his leather Anaconda cigar case out of the breast pocket, and folded the blazer carefully over the back of a chair, so that the gold Wilfred Choate school initials were prominently displayed.

“Mother,” said he, “What a shame, and just when we have celebrated our one year anniversary at St. Fiacra’s. I can hardly believe it.”

“Six weeks, Alfred,” said Mother, picking up Alfred’s blazer and hanging it just as carefully in the hall closet.  “In six weeks Father Goodfellow will be gone, then what will we do?”

“As I understand it Mother, “the bishop will appoint an Interim Priest until we are able to call a new Rector.”

“How long is that going to take, Alfred,” said Mother.

With that Alfred opened the Anaconda cigar case and said, “Well, Mother it’s quite a process. The Vestry will consult the Bishop, appoint a Calling Committee, develop a profile of the parish, seek names, visit prospective candidates to hear them preach, invite them for interviews, check with the Bishop again, and if all goes well then call someone to be our new Rector. That all takes time.  One hopes that the first names of prospective candidates will provide a suitable candidate, and if it doesn’t we look for some new prospects.”

“Alfred,” said Mother, “I had no idea it was that complicated,” she paused, then added, “I also had no idea that you knew so much about it.”

Alfred winced, “Well, I didn’t, but Horace Whittington has asked me to consider being on the Calling Committee. I don’t know; it’s quite a time commitment.”

Alfred drew two cigars out of the case, held one up to his nose and sniffed. “Now Mother,” he said, “Selecting a Rector is like selecting a cigar. For instance take these Villar y Villar 754s cigars. At first sight they seem acceptable. They may be hand rolled in Nicaragua, but they are not really a special occasion cigar; far too mild and non-descript for that, sort of a run-of-the-mill smoke.”

With that Alfred dropped the two cigars in the trash, saying, “When we call a new Rector, we want him not only to look fine at first sight, but we want him to actually be fine; to have a good aroma, and after the first year to be just as fine as he looked at the beginning.

“For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.  He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” [Titus 1:7-9].

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