Saturday, July 9, 2016

Lancaster Convocation Three Day Immersion Excursion: Day Two

It was, as they say, a “fast sleep.”

My chauffeur/tour guide/Convener The Rev. J. Patrick Peters was waiting in the lobby of the Fairfield Inn for me at 8:20 sharp to take me over to St. Thomas for a special clergy breakfast, hosted by The Venerable Jane Miron and St. Thomas’ interim rector, The Rev. Timothy Raasch.  We had a great turnout, including the visiting Priest-In-Residence at St. James, The Rev. Ingrid Andersen who joined us,  and another dozen or so folks; we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of eggs, bacon, fruit, pastries and coffee. Our table conversation ranged from telling our "favorite Desmond Tutu stories” (there were several around the table) to reflecting on the events of the past week and discussing the work that is needed to create safe neighborhoods and cities and to reduce gun violence.  We could have spent the morning in conversation but the agenda was full.

The Breakfast Club at St. Thomas

First stop was a historic walking tour of Lancaster.  Our tour guide, Bill, (85 years young and dressed in a tri-corner hat and all the fixins) met us just off the square and led us in about a 4 block radius telling the stories of Lancaster’s early settlement.  We saw the new Convention Center, built to “embrace” two historic buildings, the Montgomery House and a tavern owned by Thaddeus Stevens which was part of the Underground railroad; the section of the city called “Old Town” which has been restored to create a chic, downtown, historic section (I dreamed of a pied a terre, there) and the Lutheran Church with its original 4 Evangelist statues in the narthex. (The Evangelists used to perch way up near the steeples).  Bill was full of knowledge about the city and told us more in one hour than I could read about  in a week.  Try one of these tours if you ever have an hour to kill in Lancaster.  They are fascinating.

Our tour guide Bill

the Montgomery House (inside the Convention Center)

our party entering Old Town

Old town cottage

a "busy body” which is a 3-way mirror fixed on a side wall
window sill allowing the owner to take
a peek at who is knocking at the front door

St Luke statue at the Lutheran Church-
once a steeple ornament

We lunched on treasures found in the Lancaster Market-  the oldest continuously  operating market in ... Pennsylvania?  The US?  I can’t remember, but I do know that as I wandered around I saw some of the loveliest cheeses, sausages, flowers, handcrafts, honey and all sorts of delicious and tempting items.  My pal J. Patrick steered me over to the fudge counter (peanut butter!  chocolate!  penuche!) but I resisted.  Instead, I had a wonderful roasted veggie and hummus flatbread and a tomato, olive and celery salad from the African market booth.  We had a special treat of eating our lunches in one of the condominiums across the alley from the market in a building that used to be a department store.  (One of the folks in our payrt had access to an apartment there.)  Fantastic. (no photos, unfortunately.  The market was busy and... we were busy finding our lunch.)

We toured the Transitional Living Center up the street from the market.  The Revs. Stephen Casey, J. Patrick and I spent a couple of hours with the director of the facility, Doug Hopwood, as he explained the different programs at work in this old hotel facility.  There are programs that support people being released from jail, the homeless, families without housing who desire staying together (many shelters have to separate members of families by gender) and two different programs for veterans.  We saw rooms in the living center that are available to house families, handicapped, and single people.  Because the facility was once a hotel, each room has its own private bathroom, a luxury in the world of shelters.  We had a chance to meet with a resident, Joe (named changed for privacy) who shared his moving story of how he ended up requiring the assistance of a place like TLC.  He spoke with passion about his appreciation for the programs at TLC and how they have helped to give him his life back and see that he has value.  It was a privilege to sit with Joe and hear his story.  Doug is in his second decade at TLC and has a  ministry there that has literally saved the lives of hundred of people.  The TLC can house around 100 people.  They have just one or two open rooms right now.  There are 30 children in residence at this time (living with their parents at the TLC.)

Important words in a mural at TLC

TLC Director Doug Hopwood
showing us a room in the TLC
Fr. Peters just outside the special Veterans Lounge at
TLC.  The vets have their own room for socialization.  The outside
hallway is painted in camo design and each vet
has signed the wall with Sharpie marker telling
of his or her time and place of service

The late part of our afternoon was spent in a joyful service of Evening Prayer at St. John’s, Marietta,  organized and led by Deacon Nancy Rementer, where we blessed the new signage out in front of the church and the new lift that has made both the church and the parish house accessible to all.  St. John’s has a ministry to families and children with special needs and it was wonderful to see wheelchairs- and those in them!-  in the sanctuary.  Fr. Nelson was there to assist with the blessing ( he left St. John’s not too long ago to move to another church) and it was  good to hear his remarks about the long project come to completion.  Frank Rementer and the General Contractor Dennis were also honored for their work on the project.  We adjourned to the parish hall ( I got a ride on the lift!) and had time at the We Share program, the program that offers crafts, supper and community for the children and families with special needs.  One of the big hits of the program was Fr. Casey’s flight simulator where we all got a chance to try flying a Cessna.  I managed to get it off the ground but will admit to needing lots of help getting down on the runway in one piece.  It was hard to tell who had more fun-  the kids or Fr. Casey.

the new lift at St. John’s, Marietta

Ethan at the flying simulator controls.  Father Casey and Lily are supervising.

Father Casey’s Flying Fan Club
We Share puzzle work
How to get along.
It is that easy.

What a day.

We made our way back to the hotel so grateful for the ministry that we’d witnessed in the course of the day.  Compassionate caring in the name of Christ.  Knowing that in Christ, all is made new, and that in him, there is no East or West.  Homeless, beleaguered Vets, children in wheelchairs, church elders, faithful laypeople, clergy, Africans cooking tasty food in the market, Desmond Tutu... we are all made in the image of God and beloved by God.  God delights in each one of us.  For who we are right now, and who, in Christ, we are becoming.  We are One.

Tomorrow, I will confirm 4 people who want to stand up and profess their faith in community and make mature affirmations of their faith.  It will be another great day in Lancaster County.

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