l. to r.: Dawn, Mary Eleanor, Samuel, Adam, and Cynthia Spaetti;
Andy & Grace Halsey; Tim & Mary Lee Bayly
This morning, seven of us from Bloomington are worshipping here at First Presbyterian Church of Charleston, Mississippi, a congregation that just pulled out of the mainline, liberal Presbyterian Church (USA) and transferred into the Presbyterian Church in America where David and I are members. We're here to take part in the ordination this afternoon of Andrew Halsey who, with his wife, Grace, are former members of Church of the Good Shepherd. Adam and Dawn Spaetti, with their children, also came to join in this ordination service. (Adam and Andy came to CGS at the same time, as IU undergraduates.) Andy and Grace were students at Indiana University before leaving for Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, where Andrew just received his M.Div. While in Jackson, the Lord blessed them with two children, Clara Ruth, and her one month old brother, Benjamin.
Last night we had warm fellowship with the people of First Pres. at a potluck dinner here at the church. Afterwards, John Ball Burnett Jr. drove me out to see the delta on the west side of town. Then Mary Lee and I had a pleasant evening's conversation with our host family, William and Mary Alice Sanders, and their son, Tripp.
Charleston is the county seat with a stately courthouse anchoring its town square. The town sits on the edge of the bluff bordering the Mississippi delta. The delta extends from a mile or so outside of town to the Mississippi River around fifty miles due west.
l. to r.: William, Mary Alice, and Tripp Sanders
Gate to Morgan Freeman's home
John Ball told me Morgan Freeman lives here and is seen around town in a ten-year-old Toyota pickup truck wearing Levis and a baseball cap.
Another of Charleston's famous residents was Scissors, the World Champion Hog from 1918-1923. Here's a life-size statue of Scissors...
Scissors' owner, a large landowner in the Charleston area, was so proud of Scissors that he bought a special railroad car for his travel. (The hog weighed 2300 pounds.) His owner also built Scissors this small house where he received a constant stream of visitors when he wasn't out on the road. Look at the front of Scissors' home closely and you can see the picture windows that made his private life an open book to his fans.
Being in Charleston brings back memories for Mary Lee and me. Twenty-three years ago I was ordained by John Knox Presbytery of the newly reunited and liberal Presbyterian Church (USA) at First Presbyterian Church of Pardeeville, Wisconsin. We moved into the manse (presbyspeak for parsonage) next to the church and I began serving the yoked parish of First Presbyterian Church of Pardeeville and Rosedale Presbyterian Church of Cambria, Wisconsin, eight miles outside of town. Almost nine years later, most of the people of that parish voted to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) and, like First Presbyterian Church of Charleston, we also entered the biblical Presbyterian Church in America. Now in Pardeeville there is a church called Grace Presbyterian Church founded upon the truth of God's Word--all that truth in all its Divine power.
The years were sweet and I told Andy and his new congregation yesterday that you never replace your first love, whether in marriage or churches. The people you first serve always have a special place in your heart and, although your future parishes also love and are loved, there's something about being ordained in a congregation and starting out in the pastorate there that is particularly sweet and memorable.
l. to r.: Bob & Parke Fowler (from Trinity Presbyterian Church in Jackson, the Halsey's home church while in seminary); Caroline and her father, Rick Stark (Assistant Pastor at Trinity); Andy & Grace Halsey; Dawn, Mary Eleanor, Adam, and Samuel Spaetti; Mary Lee Bayly; and Otey Sherman (Clerk of Session, First Presbyterian Church in Charleston).
Please pray for this congregation, Andy, and his family as they begin to live together in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
First Presbyterian Church's manse