Marty Stebbins is going to Montana. She would seem to have the name for it – Marty. You could picture a person named Marty on horseback herding cattle and perhaps strumming a guitar.
Question 1: How many cows are there in Montana? The answer is two and one-half million. That means that if the animals were divvied up equally, every human being in the state could have more that two and one-half cows. (For comparison purposes, in our state, each person would only be entitled to about one-twelfth of a cow . . . roughly 125 pounds, assuming all NC cows are full-grown and depending on whether the cow exists for meat or dairy. Anyway, we could fit our share of our cows in our freezers. In Montana, they would have to have huge freezers.)
Anyway, Marty is going to Montana to be an Episcopalian bishop.
Question 2: Are we sure there are even any Episcopalians in Montana? The
Missoulian reports that there are 34 Episcopal congregations in the state which is not exactly an answer to my question. William Willimon once wrote an essay entitled, My Dog, the Methodist, which makes me think that with a 2½:1 bovine/human ratio, let’s make sure who we are counting.
Well, Marty assures me that there are Episcopalians in our forty-first state and they are alive and well, and she is excited to be going to care for each and every one of them, so enough of all this foolishness.
I guess I just want to say that I will miss her. I don’t want to get too maudlin here, but the truth is, being a minister is a different kind of calling. And while I have been blessed with remarkable and caring congregants in the churches I have served, it is hard to understand ministry unless you have preached a mile in someone’s pulpit. So, if we clergy are lucky, we will find a colleague or two along the way who can help lift the burden when church life gets hard . . . someone you can talk to who can lend a sympathetic ear when you need it and who can kick you in the shins when you need that. Marty was here when I arrived, and she has been a better friend than I could have asked for. We have sat across the table for more monthly Denny’s breakfasts than I can count, and we have talked trash over our annual summer food drives. We have shared in community Lenten services and collaborated on some responses to crises in the larger community.
Even more, I think the community will miss her. She has been both a forceful and compassionate voice among us for the need to minister to those who are homeless or hungry, who are disenfranchised or not welcomed. Marty ear for God’s justice and compassion has blessed the men, women and children of Wilson more than we can know.
So, God’s blessings as you leave us. They tell me there is a big sky where you are going which will probably give you a good look at the heavens above.
Enjoy the view, my friend.
Blessings and Peace,
These thoughts and reflections come from our Senior Minister, Minister of Music and Board Chair. We hope that they provide both challenge and inspiration for your spiritual life.