My boss is a carpenter!

I am writing after a hiatus of about two years. I want to reflect and look forward – a tad.

Three years ago I underwent my second back surgery. The first was about fifteen years before that. Recovery was long as once I went home I was forced into strengthening and rehabilitation – I spent a year swimming to strengthen my legs and lower back. Then over two years ago I was able to return to Peru. There I was able to train a much younger priest to take over that ministry. Two years ago Covid hit the world and I was somewhat depressed as I had not only stopped visiting Peru, indeed I could not due to the difficulties of the pandemic. Now there seemed nothing to do. Was I on the scrap heap of former ministries?

God stepped in and gave me a project, with a reminder. The project was the saving of an old house that had spent over thirty years in the hands of renters. The reminder was a friend saying to me, “Your boss is a carpenter.” So true, So true! The prayer below was taught to me by my first and greatest US bishop – +Alex Stewart.

O Christ, the Master Carpenter,
who at the last through wood and nails purchased our whole salvation;
wield well your tools in the workshop of your world,
so that we who come rough-hewn to your work bench may be fashioned to a truer beauty by your hand.

In July of 2020 I received a phone call. A friend of mine had retired and would I serve his parish as an interim for about six months. I agreed, and am still here, probably until the middle of this summer. I have learned a great deal about zoom, about spiritual warfare, about a renewed love of preaching the lectionary. The invitation was to help the parish become mission focused in all that they would be and do.

I am passionate about mission. Back in 1995 I started studying congregational development and how to focus a parish on mission, rather than on institutionalism. Here was an invitation to put this into practice in a world that was brand new, a pandemic riddled world. I started to relearn what was important in parish life. It was to build on tradition and custom; a sense of place and yet a sense of being unsettled as buildings and services were inaccessible except by TV. We all had to adapt and find out what was important. We spent many months using Morning Prayer rather than a service of Holy Communion. With that change came a greater focus on God’s Word Written, week by week by week. I have always loved the lectionary, and now I could again unpack the scriptures in a way that I have not done since I was last a parish priest. We have now returned to eucharistic worship. The search and call process is nearing its conclusion. I have probably less than six months left at this wonderful parish.

I have no idea what God has for me next. The construction phase of our home is nearing completion. Polly, my wife, wants me to have a garage sale and sell most of my tools. I will. When I retired in January 2009 to become a missionary in Peru, I gave away all my books. I figured that I no longer needed them. The same will be true of my tools. They have served me well. I will keep a saw, a drill, a few screwdrivers and hammers. When arriving in Peru I learned a new language and had kept my Bible. I learned to read it in a new language. My preaching became limited by my ability in this new language. Since I became an interim, I have had the joy of preaching in English, expositing the scriptures and seeking to build up and encourage our congregation. I am approaching 78. That means getting closer to fourscore years. Am I old? Yes, but I feel reborn. That has been the gift of God and the gift of this congregation. It is not that I doubt being born again of the Spirit of God. It is that somehow a youthful energy has been rekindled. The time is short there is so much to be done.

So we will keep it simple – bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus. Turn to Jesus, turn to mission and build up God’s Church – the mission society of which we are all a part. God is so good.

2020 and beyond


When in Peru last November I never dreamed that the world would change so much as it has since Covid 19 impacted us. In November I handed on much of my ministry to Fr. Jeremy Shelton, assistant priest at St. John’s, Johns Island SC. I had become aware of the need to “pass the stole” to a younger person who shared my passion for Peru, its people and in particular the Anglican Church there.

With Covid 19 so much has changed. Relationships are different without the immediate possibility of human contact. We, up here, have all sorts of technology. In Vermont, where we live, we have practiced social distancing for hundreds of years! But what of the people who live in the barrios of Lima and Arequipa? What of the people who live hand to mouth in poverty in tiny homes perched on the hillsides? What of our clergy, school teachers and students, who rely on community, not simply for worship gatherings but who share resources as extended families?

I have no quick answers. I am still involved. I care. I am frustrated by the limitations of a Covid 19 world. I am not sure what a post Covid 19 world will look like; or even if “post Covid 19” is a correct expression as the WHO tell us that we might well be living with this as a part of daily life and life’s daily unpredictability. I do know this – we are mortal. Dust we are and to dust we will return, but at the last day I shall see God. Nothing shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus – NOTHING. So I echo St. Paul – for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Over a year ago I helped introduce safeguarding to the Anglican Church of Peru. With the leadership of CMS this has been developing and being refined to fit the Peruvian context, which is much more based of personal contact than our northern, Anglo Saxon, culture. There was to have been some formal movement ahead on this at the March 2020 synod in Peru. This has now been postponed, God willing and the Peruvian government permitting, until early September. I shall attend if possible as a Peruvian priest. The synod will be addressing a number of important issues that have to do with this as well as international Anglican relationships. My worry is not that I shall get there, but that after a year of not speaking a word of Spanish I can resume conversation. We shall see what God has planned.

Meanwhile please pray for Peru. There is a plan to emerge from lockdown and resume personal relationships, gatherings and travel. Pray for me too. Ministry continues retired or not. I am rather excited about what it will look like.

Some lighthearted things to think about

A  wee bit of Historical knowledge for YOU related to our old sayings

Early aircraft  throttles had a ball on the end of it, in order to go full  throttle the pilot had to push the throttle all the way forward into the wall of the instrument panel. Hence “balls to the wall” for going very fast. And now you know the rest of the  story.

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During WWII, U.S. Airplanes were armed with belts  of bullets which they would shoot during dogfights and on  strafing runs.  These belts were folded into the wing compartments that fed their machine guns. These belts measure 27 feet and contained hundreds of rounds of bullets. Often times, the pilots would return from their missions having expended all of their bullets  on various targets. They would say, I gave them the whole nine yards, meaning they used up all of their ammunition.

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Did you know the saying “God willing and the creek don’t rise” was in reference to the Creek Indians and not  a body of water? It was written by Benjamin Hawkins in the late 18th century. He was a politician and Indian diplomat. While in the south, Hawkins was requested by the President of the U.S. to return to Washington In his response, he was said to write, “God  willing and the Creek don’t rise.” Because he capitalized the word “Creek”, he was referring to the Creek Indian tribe  and not a body of water.

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In George Washington’s days, there were no cameras. One’s image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings  of  GeorgeWashington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms  and legs are ‘limbs,’ therefore  painting them would cost the buyer more. Hence the expression, ‘Okay,  but it’ll cost you an arm and a leg.’  (Artists know hands and arms are more difficult to paint.)


As incredible as it sounds, men and women took  baths only twice a year (May and October). Women kept their hair   covered, while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford good wigs made from wool. They couldn’t wash the wigs, so to clean them they would carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it for  30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term ‘big wig’. Today we often use the term ‘here  comes the Big Wig’ because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.

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In the late 1700’s, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded  down  from the wall, and was used for dining. The ‘head of the household’ always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Occasionally a guest, who was usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal. To sit in the  chair meant you were important and in charge. They called the one sitting in the chair the ‘chair man.’ Today in business, we use the expression or title ‘Chairman’ or ‘Chairman of the Board.’

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Personal hygiene left much room for improvement.  As a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by  adulthood. The women would spread bee’s wax over their facial skin to smooth out  their complexions. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman  began to stare at another woman’s face she was told, ‘mind your own bee’s wax.’ Should the woman smile,  the wax would crack, hence the term ‘crack a smile’. In addition, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt. Therefore, the expression ‘losing face.’

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Ladies wore corsets, which would lace up in the front. A proper and dignified woman, as in ‘straight laced’ wore  a tightly tied lace.

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Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards but  only  applicable to the ‘Ace of Spades.’ To avoid paying the tax, people would  purchase 51 cards instead. Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren’t ‘playing with a full deck.’

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Early politicians required feedback from the  public to determine what the people considered important. Since  there  were no telephones, TV’s or radios, the politicians sent their  assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars. They were told to ‘go sip some Ale and listen to people’s conversations and political  concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at different  times. ‘You go sip here’ and ‘You go sip there.’ The two words ‘go sip’ were  eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we  have the term ‘gossip.’

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At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank  from pint and quart-sized containers. A bar maid’s job was to  keep an  eye on the customers and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in ‘pints’ and who was drinking in ‘quarts,’ hence the phrase ‘minding your  ‘P’s and Q’s’.

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One more: bet you didn’t know this! In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried  iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary  to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting  on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem…. how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from  under the others. The  solution was a metal plate called a ‘Monkey’ with 16 round indentations. However, if this plate were made of iron, the  iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make ‘Brass Monkeys.’

Few landlubbers  realize that brass contracts greater and much faster than iron when it’s chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would roll right off the monkey; Thus, it was quite  literally, ‘Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.’

“any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, Sir Arthur C. Clarke


Back to Peru

As I am heading to Peru tomorrow I covet prayer covering while I am away.

The purpose of this trip is to lead a retreat for the teachers at San Mateo School as we prepare them to share leadership this coming June when we do another Bible School. A team of four from Grace Anglican Church, Fleming Island, FL, will join me on Saturday. I shall also take that team down to Arequipa to explore mission opportunities.

As I arrive in Peru I will be joining Susan Park who is hosting a varied and diverse group of partners and friends of Peru. Bishop Dan Martins of Springfield, IL and his assistant Fr. Mark Evans are there on a one-week visit so as to renew their Peruvian partnership. Shortly arriving is a team from the Diocese of Worcester, England and their bishop – The Rt. Rev John Inge who is giving a teaching series at the Cathedral, will join them later. Towards the end of the month a group from the Diocese of South Carolina is coming to explore missionary opportunities. Also joining us will be a representative of the Diocese of Gibraltar.

I am excited. After a hiatus of a year we are beginning to see a new series of partner in mission relationships emerging. It is for this that I have worked over the whole of last year and more. The changes in the diocese of Peru since Bishop Godfrey has left have been many. In this time the Diocese, under the leadership of Bishop Jorge Aguilar, has completed a detailed evaluation of the state of the Diocese. They have allied themselves very strongly with the Province of South America. They have abandoned any idea of becoming a separate province of the Anglican Communion, which was proposed about two years ago. They have established goals for clergy and lay people, which put spiritual formation, evangelism and discipleship as Anglican Christians at the forefront. They have planned a series of teaching occasions over the course of the next year.

Lima will be very different from Vermont. Today we are being blanketed by snow. Tomorrow night I shall be in hot and muggy Lima. This is one of the hottest summers on record for them. This is made worse by severe water shortages caused by damaging rains that have blocked the water systems.

Please pray for safe travels, good and useful conversations and a renewal of partnership relations.


Christmas reflections and hopes

Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will  be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

dscf1982This has been a good and busy year.  Please, as we end this year when there is much uncertainty in the world, join me in heeding the Prince of Peace.  The angels announced Jesus with the Christmas message – Fear not, Jesus is coming.   Jesus has come and dwelt among us.  His perfect love casts out fear.  We seek during these times to make Jesus present as we serve others near and far.

I visited Peru five times in 2016 and am planning more visits in 2017.  These trips accomplished much.  Thank you for being part of what God has been doing there through these trips and conversations.  Polly was able to join me in November when we served  at the Cathedral in Lima over two weeks.  dscf2055

In Puente Piedra, Santisima Cruz church now has a roof.  A building for water purification at Colegio San Mateo  was installed – equipment coming in 2017.  The VBS at Colegio San Mateo in July was an amazing success, and we are returning in February to train leaders for another VBS in late June.13620277_10206966335099235_7119263508189618520_n

I have assisted at the Cathedral several times as they are still searching for a new English speaking rector.  We are developing plans for a complete rebuild of two schools and celebrating the new high school in Arequipa – St. Mark’s Anglican school. I also visited partners, congregations and bishops in the USA several times this  year so as to keep them abreast of developments in Peru.dscf1994

Goals for 2017

In 2017 we are resolved to do all that we can to support Bishop Jorge Aguilar in his priorities: Evangelism and Disciple-making.  Under a new initiative, the Anglican Church in Peru will teach and train clergy and lay people to grow the Church and make effective disciples. They will be aided by the Anglican Province of South America and Peru’s partner dioceses, congregations and individuals. I will be coming alongside to encourage and participate.

DSC_6184I must rebuild my funds with SAMS-USA so as further to travel to Peru in 2017.  Peru is where God has been leading me, using me and continues to call me.


Have a wonderful Christmas as we greet the Prince of peace.  Polly and I wish you every blessing, peace and joy.