A Father’s Day story about the Holy Ghost

Before I experienced life as a pastor in such teeming south Georgia metropoli as Statenville, Fargo, Bainbridge, and Marshallville, I was certain that my hometown of Chester, South Carolina was the smallest place on the planet. It was so small, in fact, that my father (pictured, left, with my younger brother and me, circa 1970), a prominent member of the City Council, had to commute thirty miles north to the border town of Fort Mill to find gainful employment to support a wife and two children. Meanwhile, his father, my paternal grandfather, was never without work as the local TV repairman and my maternal grandfather (pictured, right) was equally busy as the town barber.

With Chester being such a small town, most of the people would have only two reasons to make the trek to the downtown square. They either needed a haircut or their TV was on the blink. The City Barbershop, as might be expected in any small town, enjoyed a well-earned reputation as a breeding ground for tall tales. There, my maternal grandfather trimmed the sideburns of Chester’s leading citizens for over 20 years and shared with them his abundant knowledge of current events between snips. But he got some serious competition from Gibson’s TV and Appliances, where my paternal grandfather held fort for over forty years, fixing TV sets and somehow finding the time every day to engage in a game of checkers and swap fish stories with the local intelligentsia.It should not be surprising, then, that a story like this would begin to make the rounds and eventually find its way into the local newspaper. The following article actually appeared in the Chester News and Reporter in 1974.

 

Sunday morning services came at Chester A.R.P. Church recently and City Councilman Jimmy Gibson, garbed in a choir robe, was seated in the choir loft lending his vocal support to the service. His attractive wife, Jackie, was seated in the congregation with their children, when she happened to look out a window and see some boy entering their car, which had been parked along the street.

Hastening to tell her husband, Mrs. Gibson made her way to the choir loft and whispered what she had seen to her husband. Those who know Jimmy can guess the rest, but we’ll tell it like we heard it.

Out of the loft Jimmy came, leaving the church and giving chase to the culprit. The boy, spotting the man running after him, must have been dumbfounded for there was the long-legged Gibson giving that All-American try with a billowing choir robe flapping in the breeze. We understand the boy’s eyes got as big as saucers (maybe a little exaggeration there) and could hardly run for looking over his shoulder as if to figure out what that was running after him. No doubt, he had heard of the “Holy Ghost”, and chances are that’s what he thought was after him.

At any rate, Gibson called for help and a city policeman was close by, joined the chase, and apprehended the culprit.

So the moral is, if one has notions of tampering with automobiles on Sunday, be prepared for a “Holy Ghost.”

That may not be exactly the way it happened, but that’s the way we heard it.

GAFCON chairman’s letter, June 2017

GafconPRIMATETo the Faithful of the GAFCON movement and friends from Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the GAFCON Primates Council.

My dear people of God,

“For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:18)

As I write, we are preparing for Trinity Sunday. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is vital. Without it, we cannot speak truly of God in a way that is faithful to the bible. However, in the fourth century the Church was nearly overwhelmed by the Arians. They were the followers of Arius, who claimed that the Son was a created being, not really God.

If the Church had continued to follow Arius, the Christian faith would have been lost. To deny the full divinity of Jesus strikes at the heart of the Christian message that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. St Athanasius is still remembered as the man who was willing to make a costly stand against this heresy.

I am reminded of Athanasius because we are facing a similar struggle for the integrity of the gospel in our time. On Thursday 8th June, the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) changed its teaching to allow men to be married to men and women to women. It followed the path already taken by the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

This attempt to redefine marriage is not a secondary issue about which we can agree to disagree and continue to walk together. It means that Jesus was mistaken when he taught that marriage was between a man and a woman and that sex outside of such a marriage is a sin. It is a radical rejection of the authority of Scripture. The Church claims that it can consecrate behaviour that God’s Word clearly teaches to be sinful. According to the Bible, this behaviour, without repentance, separates those who practice it from his kingdom.

Athanasius consecrated orthodox bishops in dioceses led by Arians because he knew that the apostolic faith itself was at stake. This was the principle guiding the interventions which led to the formation of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009 and it was affirmed by over three hundred bishops in assembly at Gafcon 2013 in Nairobi. It was therefore very appropriate that on the same day that the Scottish Episcopal Church formally turned aside from the historic Christian faith, Gafcon announced that Canon Andy Lines, already an internationally recognised missionary statesman, will be consecrated later this month as a Gafcon missionary bishop for Europe.

This is not a step we have taken lightly, but from the beginning Gafcon has been committed to standing with the marginalised. Requests for help from Scottish orthodox leaders to the Archbishop of Canterbury were turned down. Indeed, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church told his General Synod last year that the Archbishop of Canterbury, had assured him that he would welcome the Scottish Church to the 2020 Lambeth Conference even if it chose to change its marriage canon to include same sex unions.

So now Gafcon stands ready to recognise and support orthodox Anglicans in Scotland and elsewhere in Europe as the drift away from apostolic faith and order continues. For reasons of mission and conscience, we can expect to find a growing number of orthodox Anglican congregations needing oversight outside traditional structures, as is already the case with the Anglican Mission in England.

The creation of a missionary bishop for Europe is an historic moment. It is a recognition that the era of European Christendom has passed and that in this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, a new start is being made by building global partnerships for mission.

So let us be strong. Let us stand with the marginalised and work tirelessly for the continuing reformation of our beloved Communion. I thank God for our fellowship and pray that he will uphold us by his unfailing presence.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Chairman, the GAFCON Primates Council