A week of anniversaries
This has been and will be for me and my family a week of anniversaries.
Last Monday, my wife and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. I referred to the event in church as the “completion of 40 years of a life sentence without parole.”
Guys grinned, women glared: so I guess I am in trouble — again.
In those four decades, we have added three great sons and their wives, eight granddaughters and three grandsons. We’ve lived in Tennessee, Virginia, Colorado, and Georgia and have visited Canada, Mexico, the Virgin Islands, Australia, the Philippines, Kenya, and Uganda. She has been to Europe and Paraguay. I once made a study trip to Ireland.
We have served 13 churches in one capacity or another. Although neither of us had finished college when we were married at age 20 (me) and 19 (she), we’ve become a bit more educated along the way. She is a Ph.D. and Associate Dean of Nursing at the University of West Georgia, and I am still a pastor of some wonderful and awesome people. It’s been an epic journey.
Also, the church I helped to found, Christ the King Church, will celebrate its 15th anniversary as a church on Sunday, Sept. 11. Started as a prayer group with 19 people in a residence in Sharpsburg, Ga., the church held its first Sunday morning service at Carmichael-Hemperley Funeral Home in Peachtree City on the 2nd Sunday of September 1996.
As the congregation continued to grow, the church purchased 11.5 acres on Ga. Highway 34 between Newnan and Peachtree City and, after slightly over six years in the funeral home chapel, the congregation met in its own sanctuary. Later, a fellowship hall and classrooms were added.
In addition to being a church plant, Christ the King has also been instrumental in the planting of three other churches (served by clergy who got their start at CTK) and has sponsored mission trips to Uganda, Kenya, and the Philippines and supported a mission trip to Ireland.
One of our priests left us to become the pastor of his own church in North Carolina. Christ the King was the first church in the denomination to join CEC for Life, a pro-life advocacy group of the Charismatic Episcopal Church.
Four of the clergy at Christ the King now serve the community as law enforcement chaplains and one priest serves as a hospital chaplain. In 2007, due to our bishop suffering a stroke, I was elected as the Bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (consisting of Georgia and Tennessee), and the church received “cathedral” status. By most standards, we are still not a large church but if the people involved are the standard of measure, we have a great church!
Also, in just a few days, it will be the 15th anniversary of my father’s death. My dad, William E. Epps, Jr., died just four days after our church had its first service. I thought I would get over missing him with the passage of time, but I find, as I get older, I miss him even more. I wish he were here to give me his advice. When I was younger, I loathed his advice — now I long for it. Of those 11 grandchildren, Dad only got to see one of them.
And, of course, Sunday is the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, the day when Islamic jihadists murdered over 3,000 U. S. citizens, nearly all of whom were innocent civilians — men, women, and children. We are still feeling the effects of that despicable crime and will likely be engaged in a bloody fight for years to come.
So, the week brings countless images and memories, some tender and poignant, some filled with laughter and others with bitter sadness. Still, it is a week to rejoice and mourn, to feel celebratory and sad all at the same time, and to pause, remember, and reflect.
That’s why we have anniversaries: so that — whether good or bad — we do not forget the important things.
[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 email@example.com.]