” …a tall glass of water…”


COTSWOLDS (South Central England)

Lately I have on my mind a quote from novelist Terry McMillan, “There is a big difference between being thirsty and being dehydrated.” A thirsty soul simply means you need a water break; a dehydrated soul is a crisis in faith.  Any long pastorate is susceptible to dehydration, so through the years I have looked for opportunities to take a long drink. It has led me to hike the Appalachian Trail, explore volcanoes with my son in Nicaragua and drive the southwest deserts with Sandy.

On July 1, Sandy and I will be leaving for the United Kingdom to take a walking holiday through the Cotswolds and then off to Jersey Island for a five week ministerial exchange. I am considering this adventure a tall glass of water.

To the walking holiday, years ago I read a novel by C. S. Lewis in which the main character takes a walking  through the English countryside and I have been drawn to the idea ever since. It sounded, as the British are fond of saying, lovely and lovely is what Sandy and I are after at this chapter in our lives.

We will take an eight day foot journey from Chipping Camden to Bath, a total of 102 miles. A travel guide describes the trail as “one moment you’re wandering along the scarp edge, with toy-sized farms and villages scattered across the plains far below, the next you’re headed down to them- to explore a magical village or a small market town with age in its streets, whose cottages are ‘faintly warm and luminous..”  What could be better? If it is as it says, not much.

As to the exchange, Sandy and I will arrive in Jersey Island on July 12, and spend the evening with the Rev. Tony Morling and his family before they head for North Carolina. The island is situated in the English Channel, about ten miles off the coast of Normandy, France. The exchange is handled through the World Methodist Council with the intent of providing opportunities to develop ties between Methodist clergy and congregations in United States and England. More recently other Methodist denominations that have a seat at the Council have been included in the program. Pastors preach the Sundays of the exchange, provide pastoral care and join in the congregational life of their host congregations.

Tony Morling is married to Cathy and they have two sons in middle school, Columba and Ronan. When Sandy and I spoke with them through Skype the boys told us they liked sports, with cricket at the top of their list. It sounds like a HiTom’s Baseball game might be in order. Maybe the next day the boys will teach you how the British do it.

Tony’s first Sunday to preach is July 16 and lunch in the Christian Enrichment Center will follow the 11:00 worship service. This is Memorial’s opportunity to show the Morlings what is meant by southern hospitality, so I hope folks will clear their summer calendars for this event.

That same Sunday, Sandy and I will be joining an annual caravan with the people at St. Helier Methodist Centre.  A lay leader of the church has emailed us a welcome and to let us know that after worship their congregation will be piling into vintage Lorries. They drive around parts of the island and then stop at a beach for a picnic and swimming.  Should I wear my bathing suit in the pulpit?

Sandy and I will return on Wednesday, August 16 ready to begin another year with the good people at Memorial United Methodist Church in Thomasville.