Friday, October 9, 2015

A Celebration in Tatamy, Pennsylvania

This past week, Judy and I were in Pennsylvania, for the first time in a decade, in order to do some family and friends visiting.  We began in Easton, Pennsylvania, to share in the retirement celebrations of our dear friends Ernie and Bonnie Shaffer.  Ernie served the St. Peter's Church of Tatamy, PA, for all of his 33 years of ordained ministry.

 This is remarkable in any day and time.  Even more remarkable is that St. Peter's is Bonnie's home church, where she was baptized, confirmed, and married.  So as they bid farewell to the congregation on Ernie's last Sunday, it was an occasion filled with deep meaning.

We felt so fortunate to share in the weekend.  The church had a lovely retirement dinner, and the MC asked the minister friends of Ernie's to speak.  This was a bit of a surprise.  I had some good and true things to say about Ernie, and then confided in the congregation that ever since he went to serve them, Ernie and I had maintained a back and forth correspondence, first in the slow mail and then via email, lasting these 33 years.  I then said, "So I know just about everything about all of you!'  This brought gales of laughter, and then a kind of wondering look on many faces as if they were thinking, "So just what DOES he know...?"!  I followed that with a second comment, saying, "I have it on the best authority that once his retirement begins, Ernie will start writing, 'Parishioners I Have Known and Loved, Volume One'", which brought more laughter.  But then, during the cake and mingling time, not one but two of the church members came up to me, told me their name, and said, "Did Ernie tell you about me...?"

I was asked to share in Ernie's farewell Sunday's worship, which was a joy and honor.  We are wishing the Shaffers a wonderful next chapter in their lives, and their former congregation as well, as they move into the "what's next"...


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