Monday, February 8, 2016

More bishop stuff

Two more Bishop Campbell stories--one as bad as the others, the other one no so.

That summer I worked at HEP, I helped out at Grace Church, Keystone with Pop Bailey.

Bishop Campbell made an Episcopal visit that summer. The altar guild had scraped together enough money to buy three candle candelabras especially for the bishop's visit. Had I thought about it hard enough, I would have realized the bishop would celebrate the Eucharist and the candelabras were more suitable for Morning Prayer. But I didn't think hard except to admire how the altar guild wanted to do something special for their bishop.

We were half-way down the aisle during the Processional Hymn when the bishop looked up and saw the candelabras and told the organist to stop playing.

"I will not celebrate without proper candles," he said, "put out the Eucharistic candles!"

Sheepishly, the altar guild took down the offending candles and put back the two single candles appropriate for Eucharist. Then we began again.

Needless to say, it was a somber and distinctly non-joyful service. Certainly not a way to endear yourself to others.

Afterwards, to his credit, Pop Bailey reamed Bishop Campbell a new one over Scotch back at his house. Pop told him in no uncertain terms that the sacrament would have been perfectly valid with the other candles and that he was, I think I remember the quote, "an ass in a purple shirt!" It was the only time I saw Bishop Campbell humbled.

The other story is about me. Back before all that happened, before I'd ever met Bishop Campbell besides at my confirmation as a sophomore in college, I was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation "Trial year in Seminary". The first piece of mail I got at Divinity Hall (some name for a dorm, huh?) was a draft notice. This was the autumn of 1969 and Viet Nam was on overdrive.

I called Snork Roberts, the chaplain at WVU and he told me he'd call the bishop and call me back. After Snork called me, I called Bishop Campbell to explain my situation. I was honest and told him I didn't intend to be a priest but I did want to go to school instead of South-east Asia. When he asked me what I planned to do, I told him that in Cambridge I was closer to Canada than to Beckley, West Virginia, when I was supposed to report for induction in five days.

The Bishop asked me if my father had been in the service and I told him that Dad had hit Omaha Beach on the second wave and fought all the way across France and into Germany.

Then Campbell asked me what my father would do if I went to Canada.

"I think it will break his heart," I answered.

The bishop told me to stay near the hall phone and 15 minutes later called to tell me my draft notice had been 'rescinded' and I was a Postulant for Holy Orders. I didn't know how a man could turn back the will of the Draft or what a Postulant was.

"Just remember," Bishop Campbell told me before hanging up, "this is for your father, not for you."

Whatever Campbell said to whoever he said it to about my draft notice, I never heard from Selective Services again. Not once. I've been thankful for that for over 40 years.

Giants and Ogres are cut from the same cloth, it seems to me. I'm happy these days with bishops who aren't of either ilk.

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.