One day tells its tale to another and one night imparts knowledge to another. Although they have no words or language, and their voices are not heard. Psalm 19:2-3

St. Philip’s Church, oldest parish south of Virginia, 1681, current building 1836


After twenty years and prayerful contemplation, we have switched churches.

Not the first time I have changed churches.

A door closing; a door opening.

It happens all the time.

Signs from God pointing the way.

As with any breakup, it can be painful.

Being told one is guilty of consumerism by one’s former Rector cements the decision to leave.



Jesus wept.

So, now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.                  1 Corinthians 13:13

Lots of love from one church, its staff, its communicants.

Not much love from the other where we have been for two decades.

As one of my good friends says, “Oh, well, den.”

St. Michael’s Church, 1751, oldest church building in the city

Christians are to be known by our love.

One day I want to be a Christian.

Feeling a lot of love at the new church.

Welcomed with open arms.

As the song says, “They shall know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

This being the South, most of my friends still go to church.

I don’t remember ever NOT going to church.

Growing up, we always went to church.

At Andover, I would attend the Protestant services with the Reverend Thayer Zader in the chapel. There weren’t many of us, but, wherever two or three are gathered, there He will be also.

In Chapel Hill, I went to church regularly at the Chapel of the Cross on Franklin Street.

When I lived in Kenya, I attended All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi.

In Law School, I joined Trinity Cathedral in Columbia.

When we married, we made picking a church home a priority.

Now we are in a new home after two decades of worship at the old one.

We were married at First (Scots) Presbyterian Church, my wife’s childhood church. During our counseling, Dr. Massie, then Senior Pastor there, told us that the only thing that mattered about where were went to church was that it was a place where we felt comfortable and where we could give comfort.

Well said, Dr. Massie.  Well said.

First (Scots) Presbyterian Church, est. 1731, building from 1814. Where we were hitched and where our children graduated from kindergarten

All the great events of my life have been in the shadow of the Cross: Baptisms, Confirmations, Weddings, Funerals.

I am related to Priests, Pastors, Bishops.

Part of my Virginia antecedents fled France to worship as they saw fit. Huguenots of Manakin, VA.

French Huguenot Church. Last one of its kind in the U.S.  Current building from 1844.  My ancestors Amer Via and Gabriel Maupin and their families fled France to worship as they saw fit.  The Perrin family fled for similar reasons.

In honoring their legacy, we attend church.

In keeping the commandments of Jesus, we attend church.

My mother’s mother used to say that she drew strength from Communion.  The bread and wine fed her. The Body and The Blood.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me.

I, too, draw such strength.

It’s in my blood that I should be washed in His blood.

The O’Kelley family motto is “Turris fortis mihi Deus.”  A mighty fortress is my God.

One of my favorite hymns is Martin Luther’s own “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

Coincidence?  There are no coincidences in God.

That hymn will be the processional hymn at my funeral.

If any of you reading this attend, please know that I have planned this funeral to not be about me, but, instead, to be an Easter service.  All joy. All resurrection. All the beautiful language of the Bible, the Prayer Book.

I planned my funeral after attending the funeral of my across the street neighbor, Dr. Charles Aimar, back in 2012.  Sat down and planned the whole thing.

I know the hymns

I know the lessons.

I know the Psalm, the 23rd, will be sung as “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.”

The Lord is my Shepherd.  I shall not want.

There will be homily, not a sermon.



Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.

There will be Communion.

There will be hymns during Communion.

Those who attend will recess to “Onward! Christian Soldiers!”  The Church Militant singing me on to The Church Triumphant.

The most traditional-Rite-One-old-time-religion-all-hymns-out-of-the-hymnal-funeral-you-ever-did-see-where-you-leave-feeling-good-about-yourself-and-not-crying-for-the-deceased

But, now at a different church.

As a priest recently told me, sticking with the old liturgy and the old hymns equals cutting edge worship these days.

We made the right decision.

Time to get back to the work of the people.

The work of the Lord.

I go to church because He hung on a cross for me.

I go to church to thank Him.

I to go church to sing. To sing badly, but to sing.

Christ for the world we sing. 

The world to Christ we bring 

With loving zeal.

The poor, and them that mourn

The faint and overborn, 

Sin sick and sorrow worn,

Whom Christ doth heal.

I am sorrow worn having left our old church family.

I know I take this stuff way more seriously than most of my friends, too.

I love that a lot of my friends openly discuss these issues and their faith.

That being said, I have several friends who have already stated that I will be directing all aspects of their funerals.

You want “How Great Thou Art.”  Done

You want “Blessed Assurance.” Done

You want “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes. Done

You want “Abide with Me” by a soloist. Done

You want “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God.” Done

When the late President George H.W. Bush died, the nation seemed to be in shock at the dignity of his funeral.

Felt completely familiar to me.

The President’s funeral felt like every funeral I have ever attended in Beaufort, Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, Savannah, Ridgeway, Blythewood, Bishopville, Camden.

Perfect hymns and readings

Unlike the late President, there will be no eulogizing of me.  None.

It ain’t about me.

It’s about Him.

I  go to church to gain strength.

I go to church to profess the faith as approved by the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.

Holy Holy Holy, blessed Trinity.

We Mainline Protestants forget to profess our faith from time to time.

It’s considered tacky to do so.

Don’t know why that is.

Guess if St. Peter could deny Jesus three times and have the church built upon him as the original rock, then it’s o.k. if we’re less than forthcoming about our faith.

We should be more comfortable with it.

My Aunt Em once told me this:

We should have Lutheran forgiveness, Episcopal liturgy, Presbyterian conviction, Methodist singing, and Southern Baptist food.

That would work for me, but, according to some, that would be consumerism.



6 thoughts on “Churched

  1. Right on point today! Feel your pain as we have walked in your shoes and been treated the same way. The silver lining is that we are in an amazing church! God’s plan is better than our own…..and you can plan my funeral too!


  2. Agree with everyone else: good for you for making the choice to be happy and fulfilled at church. It is an important aspect of life – never forget that. It sounds like you know that!

    You made me think about planning my service. Now. To make sure that my wishes are followed.


  3. We left our Church 4 years ago, and, being a Presbyterian, I believe it was “the plan.” We felt that our church had left us, becoming something other than the denominationin in which I have been nurtured. We joined another Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem, and the experience has been pure joy. Never thought this would happen to me at this stage of life, but I’m glad it did.

    Liked by 1 person

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