The challenge

David Epps's picture

It started with a challenge. For several years, I had been promising the members of the worship ministry of our church that we would get them newer vestments. Vestments are the “uniforms” that people in certain ministries of the church wear during worship services. In some churches, the choir members wear robes and perhaps a stole. In our church they wear a black cassock and white cotta. In any event, the old vestments were both worn out and too hot for the Georgia summers.

One problem was the economy. When people are struggling, when jobs are scarce, the offerings in church are down. When offerings are down, it’s hard to justify spending money on non-essentials. However, if people give in a special offering, that is another matter.

Another problem was the knowledge that people will give to “felt needs.” When our congregation met in a funeral home chapel for six years, everyone “felt the need” to acquire land and build our own place. When it came to the vestments, the only people who felt the need were the folks who had to wear the worn out, hot, uncomfortable cassocks.

Hence, the challenge. At the beginning of Lent, I announced to the congregation that, if we could raise the $4,000 necessary prior to Easter, I would shave my head and beard — totally. My wife was horrified. The beard was her idea about nine years ago. I’ve told her more than once that I think she likes the beard just because it covers up my face and she doesn’t have to look at me. She denies that, but I dunno.

Several other women in the church objected to the challenge which let me know that there are other ladies who prefer I stay concealed. So, I modified the challenge. The original offer stood, but I added that if we could raise an additional $4,800 for a much needed sound board, the congregation could vote on whether to keep the hair or lose the hair.

Much to my delight, in just a few weeks the $4,000 was raised. I began to emotionally prepare myself to be shorn of all but eyebrows on Easter Sunday.

Yet, each Sunday the money for the sound board kept dribbling in. Still, I never gave it much of a chance. We are not a large church (275 in attendance on Easter) and we have several people still out of work. I lined up the hairdresser to do the deed following the morning services on Easter Sunday and secured the photographer to record the events of the day. And then the unexpected happened.

On the Thursday before Easter the last of the money for the sound board came in. There would be a vote. My secretary prepared the ballots that gave two simple choices: (1) keep the hair, and (2) lose the hair. Still, I assumed that it was a done deal.

Sunday morning, I put the long extension cords in the car so that the deed could be done in the parking lot. I also packed my electric shaver so that the job could be completed with smoothness. There was already a sheet at church to catch the fallen locks and all I needed was a chair in which to sit.

The ballots were distributed and received with as little disruption to the services as possible, although one gentleman reminded the congregation about what happened to Samson when he lost his hair. At the end of the service, the results were announced.

By a margin of greater than two to one, the congregation voted to “keep the hair.” Surprisingly, a cheer went up as though a great victory had been achieved.

The lesson in this? Apparently, a lot of people prefer that I keep as much of my face covered up as possible. I’m okay with that, too. Especially since it means that we get the vestments and the sound board.

Wonder if I can use the threat of revealing my face to raise even more money? Hmmm.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.]

AtHomeGym
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Joined: 01/18/2007
"The Challenge"

All sounds rather childish to me. I think most of us know that if there is a real need, someone will provide.

roundabout
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Joined: 01/01/2011
GYM

I have never quite understood why robes and such are necessary in church!

The early Christians only had one usually and had no church either!

I can't imagine who invented all of the "vestments" now in show!

secret squirrel
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Joined: 10/26/2005
The Challenge of Shorn Locks

You may have been able to see what your new hairdo would look like if you had taken a tour of the Coweta County Jail. I hear some of their inmates have their haircut pretty short upon arrival. Who knows? Maybe you might see a familiar face... one that reminds you of your younger self?

southernbell
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Joined: 02/19/2008
Secret Squirrel

Why do you have such a hard on for David Epps and his family. Have they ever done anything to personally offend you or are you just the "misery loves company" kind of person. Either way, you sound so very pathetic with you hate reply's. So should we put you up on a pedastal and sing your praises becuase you're so perfect? You're a sad, sad person who obviously has no life. I feel sorry you.

roundabout
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Joined: 01/01/2011
Belle: hard on what?

Are you talking to squirrel?
Did you ever defeat the VA?
How is the red room going?
Did you note that Mr. Epps said nothing, zero, about the President in his tirade about murdering Osama? Was Jesus a Republican?

And that is all I've got to say about that! Life is like a box of chocolates--you never know what you are going to get!

Squirrel means no harm!