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From our Canon Chaplain

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This month I want to turn my attention to aging in two ways. First I want to recommend a book that was published recently by my long-time friend Richard Holloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. The book is titled "Waiting for the Last Bus." It is the latest in a succession of dozens of books by Richard written throughout his long life. The last three books were 'Between the Monster and the Saint,' 'Leaving Alexandria' and 'A little History of Religion.' Now in his 80's Richard addresses the question of approaching death in the midst of a society preoccupied with delaying and postponing the end of life, medical science devoted to fighting our mortality with every means possible and our pervasive denial of this ultimate reality. It is a gracious, humorous and kindly book and one which, as someone not far behind Richard in age, I embrace gladly. It is courageous while being thoroughly realistic and it provides, in my view, the right kind of thinking, believing and 'comfort' (in the spiritual sense of strengthening) - Comfortable Words - for someone 'waiting for the last bus,' and for all of us in our ministry to the aging and aged.

My second matter is that of our Chaplaincy to Retired Clergy. In recent months I have spoken with our Bishop, with The Rev Dwight Ogier -appointed Chaplain to Retired Clergy - and to several others who have expressed interest in this particular ministry. As you probably know, my responsibility as Canon Chaplain is primarily with our active clergy and their families. That is in itself the equivalent of a fairly large parish. The Bishop has insisted that I stay within this specific area of ministry where I work in partnership with him. Dwight agrees with me that we need more pastors involved with care of retired clergy and their families. Obviously the primary focus for this is in the parishes where they reside and where they may be associated in one way or another with a specific congregation and its clergy. Nevertheless, there are, and have been, many occasions when a retired priest or deacon enters a hospital or needs homebound pastoral care and a visit is indicated or sought. In light of this, Dwight and I are putting together a team of active retired clergy who are willing to provide additional pastoral care in this connection on a regional/convocational basis. Dwight will continue to provide the liaison he has with the Church Pension Group for those who are CPG beneficiaries and maintain a record of the movements of retired clergy both within and beyond our diocese. He will also coordinate, along with myself, their pastoral care.

Once we have finalized our plans for this expanded ministry and received the Bishop's blessing and approval for it, Dwight and I will send out a complete overview with contact and coverage information. I hope you will find this helpful and a useful addition to the pastoral ministry of our diocese with particular concern for those of us who are retired from active ministry. I want to add that I am very aware that clergy don't really 'retire' but there are many in Middle and North Georgia who live amongst us and are enjoying lives that are devoted to a new kind of refreshment in the later stages of their lives.

Blessings,

JOHN