At the Inlet: August, Part 2 (A Fateful Meeting)

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Later that day Julian, Terry and Priscilla resumed their tour.  Their next stop was St. Simon’s Church in Fort Albert.  Until the war all of the Anglican churches in what is now Drahla were Churches of Serelia.  When the Drahlans declared independence, they forced these churches to provisionally affiliate with the Church of Alemara, the Anglican province to the west; that affiliation became permanent with the formal treaty of Drahla’s independence.

This was Terry’s first trip back to Drahla since she had left, so it was another opportunity to be nervous.  When they reached the border, the guards gave Terry a funny look as they checked her very Serelian paperwork, but they were admitted and went on St. Simon’s.

St. Simon’s was an attractive church that had managed to survive and prosper the change of affiliation, the war, and the loss of government funding.  As customary, they arrived in mid-afternoon, but it wasn’t long before an elderly Anglican minister, his wife and two teenagers came in.  Priscilla recognised them immediately and introduced them to Terry.

“This is Reverend Anselm Gant’s father and mother, Bede and Lydia Gant, and Anselm and Theresa’s children, Mary and young Bede.” Mary curtsied at her introduction.  Terry was always impressed at how polite children and young people on this end of the Island generally were—as opposed to their Verecundan counterparts—but these two were above average in manners even by Serelian standards.  As the conversation progressed, Priscilla focused on the elderly Gants.  Although retired, Bede helped out at the church, so Priscilla and them caught up on Anglican news “south of the border.”

Terry for her part talked with the children.  Mary was a boarding student at St. Anne’s, like her mother and aunt had been.  Bede went to St. Matthew’s School in Serelia Beach.  What they wanted to know, however, was the kind of life Darlene was living in the palace.  This is something Terry was prepared to discuss at length; it also gave her an opportunity to share their spiritual activities as well.  Mary and Bede wanted to go there at some time other than Court and get a real tour of the place and spend some time on the beach; Terry promised to try to make that a reality.

About that time the children were informed that they needed to go help set up the after-recital tea in the parish hall.  This they did; both of them left with the elder Gants to do this.  Five minutes later Mary came back and told Terry, “There are three gentlemen outside who would like to see you, Miss Marlowe.”

“Thank you, Mary,” she replied.  She was puzzled by this but went out through the narthex to find three men in suits waiting.  She recognized them immediately.  One was Rev. Peter Kelly, the current General Superintendent of the Drahlan Pentecostal Fellowship.  The second was Rev. James Sillender, pastor of the Fort Albert Pentecostal Church.  The last was Rev. Oliver Hackett, who pastored another church in the Fort Albert area.

“Sister Marlowe,” Kelly said.

“Bretheren,” she replied.

“We didn’t come here for camp meeting,” Sillender noted.  “We have a serious matter to discuss with you.”  Kelly pulled an envelope out of his pocket and handed it to Terry.  “These are ministerial charges which are being laid against you.”

“Charges?  What of?” Terry asked.

“Conduct unbecoming of a minister,” Kelly said.  “There’s also the matter of your lack of reporting since you’ve been in Serelia.”

“We’re sorry it had to come to this,” Sillender said.

“You know you’ll have the opportunity to answer these charges according to the minutes,” Kelly said.  “I would appreciate it, though, if you would at least give us your preliminary response before you leave Fort Albert.”

“With God’s help, I will,” Terry answered.  With that she left the committee outside of the church and went back in.

Julian was finishing up getting the organ ready when he looked out and saw his visibly shaken love seated at the front.  He came over and asked, “Is there something wrong, Terry?”

“Yes, Julian, there is.  But I don’t want to discuss it now.  We’ll talk about it later.”  Julian was miffed but went along.

Terry might as well have been on a barrier island by herself as to be at the recital.  All she could do—and pray about—was her ministerial charges.  By the time the recital was over, she was more at peace with the situation.

At the tea she met some old political colleagues from the Citrus Growers Cooperative.  “I need a favour out of you guys,” she said.

“What’s that?” one of them asked.

“First, I need to borrow some of your office facilities—early, about 0800 tomorrow.  Second, Brother Peter Kelly is in town.  I need to see him and the two other ministers who came to see me this afternoon in your conference room about 1000.”

“We’ll be glad to,” was the response.  They suspected what was going on but said nothing.

Terry arrived at the Cooperative at the appointed time, borrowed a typewriter, did a letter, and made some copies.  By the time the brethren filed into the conference room there to meet with her, she was ready for them.

“So what is your response?” Kelly wanted to know.  “When can you come back for a hearing?”

“My only response is this,” Terry said, handing the original of the letter to Kelly and copies to Sillender and Hackett.  They read the letter as follows:

Rev. Peter Kelly

General Superintendent

Drahlan Pentecostal Fellowship

Dear Brother Kelly:

This is in response to the letter you presented to me yesterday concerning the charges of conduct unbecoming of a minister and failure to report.

First of all, I am surprised that these charges were presented to me without any preliminary consultation with you or with Brother Sillender.  Having been involved in several proceedings such as this in my fifteen years of ministry, I find this rather abrupt.

Second, I deny the charge of conduct unbecoming of a minister.  I have done nothing to dishonour God since I have been in Serelia, any more than I did while I was in Drahla.  Since your letter has absolutely no specifics about the basis of the charges, I cannot answer further.

Third, having been a Provisional District Superintendent, I find it rather unpastoral to include the charge of failure to report without any “friendly reminders.”

I am prepared to defend myself against all of these charges.  However, I realise that my entire expedition to Serelia has been controversial in many quarters, even though it is pastoral in nature.  It has always been my policy to put the interests of God’s church above my personal ones.  Therefore, not desiring to prolong either the agony of the Fellowship or my own any further, with this letter I resign and surrender all ministerial credentials that I have with the Drahlan Pentecostal Fellowship, effective immediately.

May God bless you and all of the Fellowship as we all continue to do the work that our Lord as commissioned us to do.

Until Jesus comes,

/s/

Terry Marlowe

The brethren read the letter in silence.  Then Kelly said, “This is very noble of you, Sister Marlowe.”

“I believe this matter is at an end, Brother Kelly,” Sillender said.  The three rose, said their goodbyes, and left.  Terry left just after them, thanking the Cooperative for their help.  When she got outside, Hackett was still there, waiting for her.

“Can I ask you one question,” he asked her.

“Sure.”

“Do you think you’ll marry that Anglican minister who played the organ last night?”

“Only God knows that,” Terry said.  “Just because I turned in my license doesn’t mean I still don’t want God’s will for my life.”

“Nobody else may like this,” Hackett said, “but I hope you do.  You’ve been single long enough.  Not many of the rest of us would have stayed single for this long.”

“I guess that’s what bothers me the most about this whole thing.  But keep me in your prayers.”

“I will,” he answered.  “A lot of people here will.  You still have a lot of friends here.”

“Thanks,” she said.  They shook hands and departed.  Terry made her way back to St. Simon’s.  Julian was waiting for her.

“Did it go well?” he asked.  Terry handed him the two letters.  Julian read them with progressive concern coming over his face.

“Oh dear, I had no idea it would come to this.  I was hoping something could be worked out.”

“Evidently, it can’t,” she replied.  “I guess I’m all yours now—my bridges are officially burnt.”

“You’re God’s child, Terry,” Julian reminded her.  “He will be with you.  As the Holy Scriptures say, ‘Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.’”  They were both in tears as they embraced each other as closely as they ever had.

Julian’s last recital was at St. Mark’s Church in Drago.  They loaded the car and proceeded down the Old Beran Road.  After what she had been through in Fort Albert, the idea of going to Drago, where most of the pressure for the abolition of Royal Counsellor had come from, wasn’t so bad.

St. Mark’s was near the waterfront; from the church through the trees you could see the Crescan Sound and boats at dock or anchor, more numerous all the time.  They didn’t have much time to sightsee, though, as they were running a little late due to Terry’s problems.  As always, though, everything came together.

Terry was in her usual position before the service started when she felt a tap on the shoulder.  She turned around and saw no less than the Princess Andrea, her mother Cecile, and Andrea’s oldest daughter Deborah.  They were so excited that even Julian, making final adjustments and practice, could hear them over his organ playing.  Andrea was down visiting her mother.  They had a lot to catch up on, which they did both before and after the recital.

“So you resigned your credentials,” Andrea told Terry during the tea.  “I hate to hear that.  I was hoping you could come back and dedicate my next child, due in April.”

“You’re pregnant again?” Terry asked.

“Yes, it’s just too much fun,” Andrea sighed.  “But they’re a joy.  But you’ve got to tell me—are you and Julian serious?”

“This country is crazy,” Terry observed.  “First, they’re all mad about me going to Serelia and dating Julian.  Then they want to know when the wedding’s going to be.”

“This place is crazy—in a lot of ways.”

“How’s your new Prime Minister working out?”

“Duane Peterson?  He’s okay.  They’re still hashing out a constitution.  I leave that to Dennis and Michael—I’d rather raise the children, they’ll mind you.  The King is sick about this whole thing—he spends a lot of time out on his hunting estate.  He’d rather fight the mosquitoes than the Provisional Committee.  They’re trying for a referendum on the constitution in October.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he abdicates.  Then we’re going to have to had constitutions for all of these ‘cantons’ we’re getting—Drago, Cresca, Barlin, etc..  By the time we get this government figured out, we’ll have wasted enough time to have blown any advantage a ‘democracy’ is supposed to bring.  If it weren’t for Cathy at the Central Bank, we’d be in really serious trouble.”

“Duane was in my youth group in Cresca,” Terry reminisced.  “He was a good kid.  I hope he does well.  Thinking about him as a teenager then and Prime Minister now makes me feel old…I didn’t know that Queen Annette was your aunt until recently.”

“My mother will hardly discuss the whole thing,” Andrea answered.  “The whole thing about her father and brothers is too painful.  I’ve tried to get her to go visit the Queen in Serelia but she won’t go—says she won’t set foot in the place.”

“Maybe you and Cathy and Queen Janet can invite her to Barlin, or here.  Annette is lonely.  She doesn’t get out much.  I spend some time with her between everything else—we play mah-jongg.”

“I didn’t know you played that,” Andrea said.  “My mother loves it.  We used to play it growing up.”

“I guess I didn’t want anybody to know,” Terry sheepishly admitted.  “But the Serelians have an extensive intelligence file on me and that’s how they found out.  I’ve had a lot of stuff like that happen.”

“Next time Dennis and I come to see you, I’ll find out just how good you are.”

Priscilla’s sister was the rector’s wife at St. Mark’s, so they wanted to spend time together in the morning.  Julian and Terry went out to promenade on the dock at Drago when they saw a nice looking black couple coming up to them.

It was Arthur and Elizabeth Millington; Terry recognised Elizabeth, they embraced and the introductions were made.  Elizabeth was the daughter of Andrew Vickers, the pastor of the large Pentecostal church in Beran.  The men were properly introduced and then they decided to look for somewhere to drink coffee or tea.  It took a little doing but they found the dining room of the guesthouse still open.  Their porch overlooked the harbour so they were able to socialise and still take in the beautiful scene.

“How is your church doing in Vidamera?” Terry asked.

“It is difficult,” Arthur confessed.  “Vidamera is a hard place, as you know.  I have had to work quite a lot but that’s getting a little better.  It’s good enough so we can take a little holiday here in Drago.  Now that Father Raymond is now a bishop, I’m not sure whether they will still want Elizabeth at the school—the new priest is from the mainland, he doesn’t understand our ways.  But we hear you’re having your problems also.”

“I certainly am,” Terry admitted.

“We heard a rumour that the church here revoked your credentials,” Elizabeth said.

“I didn’t give them the chance,” Terry answered.  “I resigned them just yesterday.”

“It’s a pity what’s happened,” Julian added.

“Talk about you—the two of you—is all over the Island,” Arthur stated.

“My father got up at our camp meeting and told everyone that he believed that you were on God’s work in Serelia and that a lot of the talk wasn’t true,” said Elizabeth.  “He asked me to stand in for you and asked the ministers to come down and pray for you.  Almost all of them did.  That’s helped a lot.  Now my father told me that, if I ever saw you, to tell you that, if you needed them, we would extend credentials to you if you ever came to Aloxa.  He also wants you to come back for a revival and Bible teaching session.”

“I want to more than you’ll ever know,” Terry said.  “You people are great.  I’ve just been tied up with everything.”

“I’ve also heard that we’re about to get an embassy in Serelia sometime this year,” Arthur added.  “Maybe that will make things easier.”

“I hope so,” Terry said.  They talked about everything and everyone for a long time.  As the noon hour approached, Julian reminded Terry that Priscilla might be wanting to get on back to Serelia.  They embraced each other as they left.

“You know,” said Julian, musing as they walked back to St. Mark’s, “that’s the first time I’ve ever actually socialised with black people in my life, other than when I was at university.”

“They’re wonderful, aren’t they,” Terry replied.  “White people, they love you one day and hate you the next.  When you have a black friend, you have a friend for life.”

The Millingtons were likewise talking about their meeting.  “They make a lovely couple,” Elizabeth said.  “Terry looks so happy.”

“There’s one rumour I can crush now,” Arthur said.

“And what’s that?”

“That they’re having an affair.”

“And how do you plan to do that?”

“It’s a man sort of thing.  Some men, you have your doubts. Him—the whole idea is ridiculous!  Just look at him…”

“Now, stop it,” Elizabeth said.

When the three returned to Serelia Saturday afternoon, they let Terry out at the palace.  She caught sight of Kyle on the grounds and motioned him to come over.

“I need a favour of you,” Terry told him.

“What might that be?”

“I need to see Tim Mallen.  Tonight.  Tell him to meet me at the front porch of the Inn at 2000.  It’s important.”

“I understand—I’ll get it done.”

The Inn had a large front porch.  The evening was calm.  Tim Mallen sat on one of the wrought iron chairs there; they were well provided for with padding.  Suddenly Terry emerged from the Inn with two cups of coffee.  “How do you like your coffee, Brother Tim?” she asked.

“Sister Terry—I didn’t know you were here.”  He rose, she put the mugs down, and they shook hands.  “I just take mine black.”  They both sat down.

“I’m sorry for the short notice—I know you like to use this time to prepare your sermon, but this is urgent—I wanted to discuss things with you before I had to face everyone at the palace.”

“Well, Sister Terry, what we’ve got to discuss is probably more important than any sermon I might prepare right at the moment,” Tim said in his slow, deliberate manner that was almost his trademark.  “The whole church is tore up about this.”

“I’m sorry I’m so much trouble,” Terry said.  “I was blindsided by what happened at Fort Albert.”

“It’s not your fault, really, Sister Terry.  Let me try to explain all of this from the beginning.

“I was real proud when I heard you were coming here.  I knew you came for Princess Darlene and all that.  But ever since you’ve been here, there’s been a lot of talk going on.  Sister Mallen would tell me about it, but I didn’t pay it any mind.

“Right after the hurricane, Brother Sillender—I’m on his district—came to see me.  He started asking me a lot of questions about you.  I didn’t have a lot of answers, so I asked him, ‘What kind of trouble is she in?’  Serious trouble was his answer.  So I asked why.  He said he couldn’t discuss everything he knew but he told me the following.

“The first thing he brought up was your going to the beach with Reverend Lewis.  He asked if you two were having an affair.  I told him that I knew you were seeing each other, but that you were too much a woman of God to have an affair with anyone, let alone the likes of Reverend Lewis.  He told me that he understood that they had done things on the beach that were so shameful, he wasn’t sure how he was going to deal with them if it went to trial.  I said that I knew that they had been on the beach together, but that the palace beach is very private, and that the King doesn’t permit any foolishness on any beach in this country.”

“Especially since he was watching the whole thing himself, along with the rest of the royal family,” Terry observed.

“The second thing he brought up was about her seeing Reverend Lewis at all,” Tim continued.  “I told him that she—you—was free to marry.  He said it was a disgrace for any saint to get involved with a priest of an apostate church, but especially you.

“The third thing he brought up was that he had heard tell that you were going to join their church.  I told him we’ve discussed this matter before.  I reminded him that it was impossible for anyone to hold any kind of government office, or palace or Cathedral position, without being a communicant with their church.  I also reminded him that many of my members also maintain a membership with their church just to keep their jobs.  He said that that policy was wrong for them and wrong for you, but that maybe if they made an example out of you, Sister Terry, everyone else would finally get the message.

“He said there were a lot of other things that he didn’t want to get into.  I asked him ‘What are you going to do?’  He said he’d have to discuss it with Brother Kelly, since you were technically still on the Barlin District, and were so well known.  He said that it wouldn’t be long though.”

“It wasn’t,” Terry sighed.  “So who went to him and told him all this?”

“Let me tell you one more thing before I get to that,” Tim answered.  “I knew we had a serious problem.  So I called a meeting of my five house deacons.  They had heard a lot of this too.  So I asked them what they thought of it.  I didn’t get a very positive answer; I knew you were in trouble then.  But one of my deacons—the gardener at the palace, actually—suggested that the five of us might want to meet with Princess Darlene to let her tell what had happened to her, since she was the reason you came in the first place.  It took some doing, but we got an appointment with her the day she came back from seeing her family in Amherst—I think it was the same day you left for Fort Albert.

“We met in the parish hall at the Cathedral.  She spent about an hour with us.  She told us about how you prayed with her for salvation on the yacht, how you had given everything up to come and minister to her, and some of the things that you had taught her during Bible study.  She was really sweet—I really felt the presence of the Lord during that meeting.  At the end we all prayed together for you and for each other.  As we were leaving, another deacon broke down and confessed that he knew who it was who went to Brother Sillender.”

“Who was it,” asked Terry, a little impatiently.

“It was Sister Hammett,” Tim replied.

“DeDe—the Queen’s lady-in-waiting.”

“She claims she saw everything on the beach—and elsewhere.”

“She probably did see us there—but what she told Brother Sillender and what she saw probably didn’t have much to do with each other,” Terry observed.

“Turns out, though that we weren’t the only ones to find out about Sister Hammett.”

“Oh?”

“When the news hit here on Friday that you had turned in your license, both the Queen and the Princess were incensed.  They dismissed Sister Hammett—Brother Hammett had to lose his job too on the maintenance staff—I feel real sorry for him, he’s a good man.  Sister Hammett’s daughter is now lady-in-waiting to the Queen, she just started coming back to our church recently.”

“I wonder who’s going to be Darlene’s lady-in-waiting?”  Terry interrupted.

“I’ve heard her name is Althea—used to work on the Amherst estate,” Tim replied.

“I know who she is—she’s the one whose daughter was bit by a rattlesnake and Darlene spent all night with her.  Darlene proved both her ability as a servant leader and her belief in divine healing—and that’s before she got saved.”

“God is always preparing people for something,” Tim said.

“So where are the Hammetts going?”

“I’ve heard tell they’re going to move to Barlin.”

“And make Brother Calloway’s life miserable,” Terry said.

“Maybe not,” Tim said.  “I think I’ve got the votes to turn her out.  She should have come to one or both of us first.  That’s the Bible way.  Besides, I’m not about to have my members go over my head and run to the DS every time something doesn’t suit them.  We live in a different world up here—if we’re going to risk going to jail all the time, the least they can do is to let us work things out the best we can.”

“I’ve learned that the hard way,” Terry agreed.

“This whole thing isn’t right—you’ve done too much for us.”

“Such as?”

“Such as keeping the church constable off our backs.  He hasn’t raided a Pentecostal church since you got here.  I saw him last week on the beach with his grandkids—we just waved at each other.  And there’s that Bible study, and everything else…”

“Thank you—that makes it all worthwhile.  Can I ask you one question?”

“Yes.”

“What do you think of Julian Lewis?  Honestly.”

“Well,” Tim said after a long pause, “I don’t think these Church of Serelia clergy are very spiritual, except maybe at the liquor cabinet.  But him—he’s a good man.  Always treated us right.  If I were in your position, I wouldn’t mind spending my life with him, but I’m not so sure about his church.”

“Neither am I, Brother Tim.  I don’t know what I’m going to do about that, especially now.”

“God will find a way, Sister Terry,” Tim said.  “He’s never failed us yet.”  They talked about other matters, but finally they took their leave of each other after prayer.

Darlene and Terry went through a long analysis of the past week’s events when they reunited on Monday morning.  Darlene was saddened by Terry’s problems with her church, but said she was blessed meeting with Tim Mallen and his deacons.  They also talked about Darlene’s family as well.  After that session, however, their Bible study and prayer time were altered by one significant addition: the Queen became a regular part of it.

Without a catechism, Julian and Terry had to find another topic of conversation, but Terry’s whirlwind tour of east Island Anglicanism—along with her problems with the Pentecostal church—opened up new vistas of conversation.  Julian felt more at liberty to discuss his years as an organist, choirmaster and minister.  He also took a renewed interest in Terry’s years in the ministry as well.  As he gazed into those dark eyes he so adored, he came to know that he was looking into a world that most Anglicans—especially ministers—were ignorant of, a world that combined material poverty and sacrifice with spiritual exuberance and energy, and not just as a disinterested observer but through the very eyes of one of its most prominent participants.

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