At the Inlet: October, Part 2 (An examination and a conversion)

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As the enormity of the tasks and the shortness of the time sunk into everyone involved, preparations for both Terry’s ordination and wedding got going in earnest.  With Terry becoming a minister, her clerical duties with Darlene were at an end; in any case, they were current with the applications and they were starting to transfer some of the new ones to the bureaucracy.

Annette formed a committee to work on both of these projects.  Her first member was of course Darlene, but Priscilla’s departure created a major gap in their help.  This was filled by Shu-Yi and Jasmine, who proved to be a hard working pair, even though Shu-Yi was nearly ninety.  The rest of Terry’s family was to cater both of the receptions; this was a major relief, although the Serelians were still getting used to Chinese food.  Shu-Yi and Jasmine, with the help of the royal seamstress, were working on her wedding dress as well.

This left the immediate problem of the engagement ring.  In a place like Serelia, selections were few; most people of any means went to Alemara to obtain items such as this.  In Terry’s case, though, the solution came from an unusual source: Theresa Gant, who came up with the engagement ring of Eugénie Avinet, Edouard’s wife, who was martyred with her family on the beach that bore their name.  It was something of an heirloom, although old Beran legend had it that whoever wore the ring would suffer the same fate as Eugénie.  Terry for her part was honoured to wear it, although she had some ideas to modify it to her taste later.

The guest list also posed a problem.  Although Terry was being treated by the palace as a princess, they knew that the rest of the Island wouldn’t see it that way.  On the other hand she had been a head of government in Drahla.  In the end they decided to treat it as a state wedding.  The biggest problem for an event such as this on the Island, though, was the fact that the Island was so traditionally unstable that royalty was usually careful which or how many of these events they would attend.

One hand they could not count on being on deck for this was Julian’s mother Candace.  Desmond’s first stop for his exile was Alemara, and he played for all the sympathy he could get.  By the time he was done Candace had concluded that Terry had conspired to get rid of him, so she simply told Julian that she would come for the wedding itself but nothing more.

If the wedding proved to be a merely complicated task, her ordination was a voyage into uncharted waters.  So many of the things surrounding such an event, usually performed on a man who had spent a lifetime in the Church of Serelia and having a year’s diaconate on him, were out the window for a Pentecostal novice who also happened to be a woman.  One of those was her cassock and other vestments; Annette put those working on her wedding dress in charge of this.  Their idea was to come up with a cassock that would meet with the Church’s requirements and at the same make for suitable everyday wear, and they pursued these two goals with enthusiasm.

Julian’s first concern was to get Terry up to speed on all of the “in’s and out’s” of Anglican ceremonies; he spent as much time as he could with her in the Cathedral showing her how things were supposed to be done.  Once again their time together was filled with the things of God as opposed to more mundane matters.

Nevertheless Julian wasn’t the only one in the church interested in preparing her for ordination; they received a summons to appear in the Bishop’s Palace towards the end of the week, and to there they went.

When Julian and Terry arrived, they entered the Bishop’s office.  Already there was the Bishop, of course, and the Reverend R. Algernon Dillman, Devin’s brother and up until then the rector at St. Matthew’s.  Dillman, a little more than ten years the Bishop’s junior, was an old favourite of his, and the word on the street was that, with Desmond’s fall, he would be made Bishop Co-Adjutor at the next Convention.  They all sat down and were served tea, and then the Bishop began.

“Thank you all very much for coming,” the Bishop said.  “In all my years of serving this Church, I would have never thought that we would have a meeting like this on this topic.  But these are extraordinary times we live in, and so it is our responsibility to rise to the occasion.”  He turned to Terry.  “Frankly, Miss Marlowe, my opposition to your ordination has not changed, but our dread Sovereign has decreed it and it will be done.  I have asked Reverend Dillman—now Canon Dillman, as he is to be the Dean of the Cathedral—to assist me with this process, not only with your ordination but also with all of the other transitional matters that are taking place at the Cathedral.  But our focus today is on the ordination, and so I would like Canon Dillman to summarise our position in this matter.”

“Thank you, Bishop,” Algernon said.  Addressing Terry, he said, “Let me start by saying frankly that I too am opposed in principle to your ordination, irrespective of its performance under a waiver of canon law rather than its change.  Our province has, under the leadership of our current bishop and with the support of the King, has held steadfast to the doctrines and ceremonies that have defined our church since our Prayer Book was finalised in 1931.  We have scrupulously avoided making many of the changes that other provinces in the Communion have gone forward with because, in our view, such changes are against the Holy Scriptures and the fundamental precepts of God.  One of our concerns with your ordination is that others will perceive that we have changed our position when in fact we have not.

“However, our immediate concern is the impact your ordination may have on our own clergy and laity.  Unfortunately, the time frame that we have been given is rather short, which prevents a more detailed examination of this situation.  Nevertheless, I have been in contact with all of our rectors, in addition to some discussions with our counterparts in Drahla and Alemara, and some of the Senior and Junior Wardens as well.  The following is a summary of my dialogues.

“Frankly we did not find the hostility towards your ordination we expected.  Based on what our ministers and laity have told us, we do not believe there is general support for the ordination of women in this province or in the Alemaran one; however, most of our rectors tend to look at your situation as a special case.  They do so for two reasons.  First, they feel this way because you are being ordained for the purpose of acting as a chaplain to the royal family, which they instinctively feel is a prerogative of the sovereign.  They are aware of the potential of your being assigned to other duties, but at this stage don’t feel concern that this is a realistic possibility.  Second, your ordination only adds to the consternation in the Pentecostal churches that has resulted from your strained relations pursuant to your resignation of ordination from the Drahlan Fellowship.  The rise of Pentecostal churches in this region—especially during and after our recent war—has created a lot of anxiety amongst our clergy and laity.  In some ways, I get the feeling that they consider you a prize for Julian, which helps you as well since he is both one of the most respected ministers and church musicians in the entire Island.”

“I’m glad to be his ‘prize,’” Terry said, snuggling up to her fiancé.

“I have a question,” Julian said, attempting to get past this line of thinking.  “Is there any fear that she will introduce Pentecostal practices into our churches?”

“I didn’t centre on this question, but I did touch on it with many,” Algernon replied.  “The answers were all over the lot on that one.  Some are very fearful of this; others, especially the younger ones, are either curious or realise that the Pentecostal churches, in spite of their lack of material resources, have produced a creditable organisation, and that Miss Marlowe has been a central figure in that.  They feel that she may be able to help them with her experience.”

“I certainly think so, and have expressed that opinion when I had the chance,” Julian said.

“That’s sweet of you,” Terry said.  She turned to Algernon and asked, “Did the responses from the Drahlan churches vary significantly from those here in Serelia.”

“The Drahlan rectors and laity seem to be happier with your ordination than ours,” Algernon replied.  “First, it’s not their province.  Second, in spite of your problems, both political and religious, you are still highly thought of in Drahla.  They also seem to look at your ordination as a real slap in the face of the Pentecostal churches, which has buoyed the mater more than many, I think, will verbalise.”

“One concern that is not directly related to our present situation,” Algernon continued, “is the legal status of churches other than the Church of Serelia here.  There is a concern amongst all of our people that, due to your influence with the royal family, that they will permit other churches to be chartered to operate in this realm, which at present they are not.  Many of our people feel it is only a matter of time before this happens, and some are fearful of this taking place.”

“I have spent some time with both the Queen and Princess Darlene on this subject, although none with the King,” Terry replied.  “There are two major obstacles to that happening.  The first is the whole issue of allowing churches with their controlling authority outside of the country.  That is a sensitive issue almost everywhere on this Island but especially here.  The second is that allowing churches other than this one would bring up the explosive issue of the reinstitution of the Lodge, and as long as the Lodge on this Island remains a political institution rather than merely a fraternal one I cannot see that happening in this country.”

“That’s rather informative,” Algernon admitted.

“I think we have discussed everyone’s opinions enough,” the Bishop said.  “I think it is time to address what we expect from Miss Marlowe as a minister in the Church of Serelia.”

“Oh, yes,” Algernon said.  Turning to Terry again, he resumed.  “First, we expect canonical obedience from our ministers to both our Bishop and to their immediate superiors.  Your situation is a bit special because you are attached to the palace, and technically not an integral part of the Cathedral staff.  Nevertheless we expect you to obey both the canon law of our church and the directives of our Bishop, and I ask as Dean that you give me your cooperation to the extent that it does not conflict with your duties to the royal family.”

“I have always attempted to submit myself to those over me in the Lord, and will continue to do so,” Terry responded.

“Excellent.  Second, as part of that, we expect that you will be supportive of the institution of the Church of Serelia to the exclusion of all others.  We realise that you have many friends and associates in other churches, but your first loyalty now must be to us and not to them.”

“What about outside of the country?” Terry asked.

“We would hope that your primary focus would extend to all Anglican churches on this Island,” Algernon replied.  “However, in meeting with the Chancellor this week, he expressed the opinion that your special relationship with the Aloxan Pentecostals is a matter of state.”  The Bishop perked up a bit at the comment.  “How do you think your Serelian ordination will affect your relations with them?”

“They love me one way or the other,” Terry answered.  “They offered me credentials in their own church.  I don’t think they really care.  I need to run another revival and conduct Bible training classes as I did before.”

“I believe part of our honeymoon will be there,” Julian observed.

“You certainly won’t be conducting services then,” Algernon said.

“That’s what you think,” Terry replied.  Algernon and the Bishop looked at each other in astonishment.  “‘Proclaim the Message, be ready in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, encourage, never failing to instruct with forbearance.’  That’s what I used to tell my students in Bible school.  That’s what I’ve been doing for the last fifteen years.  The last time I preached in Aloxa, I had been riding in a boat, evading the Verecundans, for ten hours before that with His and Her Highness.”

“I think that had quite an effect on them,” Julian noted.

“Third, the Bishop has asked me to administer the necessary, if abbreviated, examination so that the Church can be satisfied that you are suitable for this office.  I realise that Julian has laid some excellent groundwork in his catechisation, but I can assure you that mine will have a different—how shall we say it—flavour to it altogether.”

“Ours was quite a journey for both of us,” Julian said.

“Finally,” Algernon resumed, “in spite of my reservations on your ordination, I want you know to know, Miss Marlowe—soon to be the Very Reverend Lewis—that I am looking forward to serving with both you and Julian at the Cathedral.  Your visitation of my mother and father shows me that you have a desire to do God’s work, and that’s something that’s sadly lacking in some of our own clergy.  My parents been faithful to come to the Cathedral ever since, and personally I am gratified that I will be able to be their Rector, perhaps for the last time.  I also want you to know that you are marrying one of the finest men of the cloth this church has ever had, and it is my hope that God’s best will be on your life together.”

With that sentiment the meeting was at an end; as they were leaving, they discussed some of the practical aspects, such as the date of the ordination, her cassock and other vestments, and other such issues.  After leaving, Julian and Terry went to the Cathedral to continue Terry’s training as a minister.

“Even I’m surprised you’re planning to preach when you’re in Aloxa,” Julian remarked.

“Don’t be silly, Julian,” she replied, “they won’t take no for an answer.”

Terry’s examination for ordination nearly took all morning.  After that she had lunch with Julian at the Cathedral, then went to the palace to spend some time on the wedding preparations.  The Queen was tied up on other matters so she got a chance to spend some time alone with Darlene.

“How did your examination go with Reverend Dillman?” Darlene asked.

“It was awful,” Terry replied.  “He challenged me on all of the points that Julian was kind about.  I think I cried too much, too…I’m not sure I’m cut out for this Church.  Whose idea was this to have me ordained here anyway?”

Darlene sighed and said, “It was mine, Terry.  After the way your old church treated you, I was mad.  But it wasn’t until after we started investigating Desmond that I went to the Queen with the idea.  I didn’t go to George because I didn’t want to tip my hand regarding Desmond.  The Queen got excited about the whole idea, which surprised me.  But I thought for sure the King wouldn’t go along, but he did, and so did George, so here we are.”

Terry looked at her friend with a touch of sadness.  “You didn’t have to do that.  I don’t know I’m up to this or not.”

Darlene grabbed both of Terry’s hands and held on tight.  “You’ve got to go through with this, Terry.  You’re a minister.  God called you to be one.  You can’t back down just because people don’t like you, or because our Island politics are so screwed up.  I need you here as a minister, Terry.  So does George.  So does everybody else.  We can’t have another Desmond Lewis waltz in here and con everybody.  This church needs what you have.  This country needs what you have.  They may not know it and they may not like it but I know it.  You’re going to have a great husband who’s going to be there for you.  You’ll do fine.  And the best part is that you’ll get to spend eternity with a lot of people whom you wouldn’t have otherwise.  Don’t give up now, please.”

They looked at each other intently.  “I’ll keep going, Darlene.  I needed to hear that.”  They hugged for a long time.  After a little Darlene asked another question.

“Do you and Julian go visiting any more?”

“Not since our engagement,” Terry said, “we don’t have time.  Before that, we did when we could.”

Darlene looked out the window for what seemed like an eternity, and they turned to her friend.  “There’s somebody that needs a visit really badly.  It’s almost a family obligation.”

“Who’s that?”

“Barton Caldwell—he was Ronald’s adjutant during the war—oh, I’m sorry, you really might not want to see him.”

“I want to see him,” Terry said.  “But why now?”

“He used to work on our estate when not in the army.  He could fix anything.  But he had a leg blown off at South Barlin.  He can’t work anymore and he lives alone somewhere between West Serelia and Amherst.  I kind of think my father abandoned him.  I haven’t seen him since I married.  I think I need to go.”

“When can we do it?”

“Let me do some checking to see where he’s at and I’ll let you know.”

Algernon went to see the Bishop the afternoon after his interview with Terry.  The Bishop was eager to learn of the results.

“So how did it go?” the Bishop asked.

“It was a very difficult examination, probably the most difficult one I have ever conducted.”

“Oh?  How so?”

“For one thing, she’s very emotional.  Even Julian, who was with us for it, found it difficult to keep his wits about him.”

“What do you expect?  She’s a woman.  Now you know why we shouldn’t be ordaining them.”

“I think there’s more to it than that,” Algernon replied.  “She’s very passionate about her beliefs and about her relationship with God.  She even believes that Our Lord Himself appeared to her—I think I remember Desmond mentioning that.  That experience changed her life.”

“We can’t have that kind of thing in this Church!” the Bishop exclaimed.  “We are the guardians of the via media.  Going that route will lead to insanity and error!”

“We’ve already got both without her,” Algernon responded.  He looked at the Bishop intently.  “You and I are old friends—I appreciate everything that you’ve done for me in my ministry and the confidence you’ve placed in me.  Part of that confidence is that I have conduced all of these types of examinations for the last six years.  They all come in, they all know the right answers, and you get the feeling that, under all of this gaudy rhetoric, they’re concealing their doubts, heresies and probably their moral failures too.  With her, it’s different.  Here you have someone whose life is pretty much known by everyone—good, bad or indifferent.  Our Prayer Book talks about ministers living and teaching according to the rule of the Scriptures, but she’s the only one I’ve interviewed of which I have no doubt has actually done it as she understood them, even in the middle of a rebellion and a political career.  If we had a half dozen more like her—preferably men—we wouldn’t be having the problems with sects we’re having now, or a lot else.”

“So what are you trying to tell me?  That we should turn our Church upside down for her benefit?”

“I’m telling you we need what she brings to us.  I am prepared to help ‘smooth out the rough edges’ and I know Julian is too, but I’m looking forward to having her at the Cathedral, at least part time.”

The Bishop started in disbelief at his old friend.  “Then you will have your wish,” the Bishop replied at last.  “May God have mercy on us both if you’re wrong.”

Algernon’s upbeat assessment was too late—and in any case too little—to influence the Bishop’s desires concerning her ordination ceremony and its follow-up.  Once Desmond was out of the country, the Bishop had lunched with the King and pressed his two central demands.  The first was that her ordination be private, held on a Saturday.  Serelian custom was that their ministers were ordained in the Cathedral in a public ceremony on Sunday, but the Bishop, trying to minimise the publicity, wanted a private one.  The King, sensitive to the unhappiness his Bishop was experiencing, gave in on that one.  He also gave in on the Bishop’s second request: that the first communion service which she celebrated be on Sunday evening rather than Sunday morning.

The King passed this along to George, who was incensed.  George took it upon himself to have a few guests for her ordination and a more general audience for her first communion service.

For a long list of reasons, the only time that everyone could work out to go visit Barton Caldwell was on the night before Terry’s ordination.  Darlene, Terry and Julian set out just before sunset; it had rained enough to make everything messy.

The trip was long; they had to go through Serelia Beach and, turning right, go back up through West Serelia.  About two kilometres out of West Serelia they found a small dirt road; they turned left and went back another 600 metres or so until they reached a small clearing.  The house was in disrepair; both the roof and the floor of the front porch were sagging.

The dirt road was in no better shape than the house; for pregnant Darlene, whose borders were enlarging daily, it was an especially painful trip.  The chauffeur tried to make it as smooth as possible but it was difficult.

They pulled up in the semi-gravel area in front of the house.  They could hear a voice from the house crying, “Who’s’ there?”

“It’s Darlene,” she yelled back.

“Your Highness,” was the reply as the voice emerged from the house.  He was gaunt and not very tidy, with literally a peg-leg that went up to just below his right knee.  Barton Caldwell’s clothing was as worn out and tattered as his body, but his joy to see Darlene again showed past his condition.  “Come on in,” he said.  The three emerged from the car and gingerly stepped up on the porch and into the house, trying to avoid obvious holes and less than obvious soft spots.

They sat down in the front room; Julian actually had to take a crate next to his love.  “These are my friends,” Darlene said.  “That’s Terry Marlowe, who’s about to become my chaplain, and Reverend Julian Lewis, her fiancé.”

“Know the Reverend well,” Barton responded.  “He preached a lot of funerals for our fallen comrades—he’d do it when a lot of other people wouldn’t.”

“So how are you these days?” Darlene asked.

“What you see is what there is,” Barton responded with a sad tone.  “You might remember that my wife left me right after I got out of the hospital.  She said she couldn’t live with half a man.  Last I heard, she was tending bar in Verecunda.  My kids come to see me every now and then.  With this leg and everything else, there isn’t much I can do.”

“I can remember when you kept everything running,” Darlene said.  “You could work on anything.”

“I can still work on some things,” Barton replied, “but no one will hire me in this shape.  If it weren’t for the King’s pension, I wouldn’t have anything, and with it I don’t have much.  ‘Bout all I do is tend this garden and drink—I tried to stay off of that today, knowing Miss Darlene’s coming.”  Barton and Darlene reminisced about old times for a while, then he turned to Terry.

“So, I get to meet the enemy face to face,” Barton said.

“She didn’t seem like an enemy to me,” Julian observed, trying to deflect his words.

Barton grinned at Julian.  “There’s more to you than most people around here think.  You’re now the only one in Serelia who actually won this war.  You’ve caught quite a fish here.”

“Thank you,” Julian responded.

“Yes, I was the enemy,” Terry admitted.  “What I’d like to know is how you, as Ronald’s adjutant, got out of Drahla alive at all.”

Barton thought for a second.  “You can thank old Ronald and Edward for that.  When Ronald realised that he was surrounded by you people on one side and the Alemarans on the other, he turned to me and said, ‘We’re not going to make it, Barton.  Get as many men as you can together and get them out of here.’

“‘I’m not leaving you, sir,’ I said.

“‘My orders are final,’ he replied, as only he could.  Then he said, ‘Remember to have them put the evergreen on my boat before they light it.’  With that we departed and, gathering as many men as we could, headed for the Barlin river—we figured it was the easier escape route.  It would have been for me except that I stepped on a land mine just before I got there.”

“One of the dozen or so we put out,” Terry observed.  “We never got very far with them.”

“It was one too many,” Barton continued.  “It threw me clear.  I told my men to leave me, but they wouldn’t—they picked me up and carried me to the river, then floated me across, then turned north to try to get back here.

“I was in so much pain, I didn’t know where I was going.  They slogged through some swamp, then we got to the edge of the orange groves.  The going got easier after that.  We went for what seemed to be forever—for me, a minute in that kind of pain was forever—and then with twilight coming we got to this little clapboard church right in the middle of the groves.

“I knew we were dead then, as they were armed—mostly the women, if I remember right.  But they told us that, if we would put down our weapons, they would give us sanctuary and a hot meal in the church.  We gladly did because we were expecting them to kill us.  But they took us in.

“They laid me out on one of the pews, tried to dress the wound, and gave me some herbal concoction for the pain.  Whether it was the pain or the herbs, I didn’t know half of what was going on.  My men told me that we weren’t the only ones there—that about forty or fifty of our men were in that church.  They fed us some food, they played a little music, and then their preacher got up and gave us a sermon.  I can’t recall his name directly but I remember how he looked—he had a full head of white hair, acted like he was a career military man.”

“I’ll bet it was R.L. Sillender,” Terry interjected.

“That’s his name,” Barton agreed.

“That was my father’s adjutant,” Darlene noted.

“Wasn’t a Sillender involved in your problems with your old church?” Julian asked.

“That was his son,” Terry answered.

“Again, I was in so much pain I couldn’t remember half of what he said.  I know a lot of the guys were really moved by what he said, especially one of them that carried me, Tim Mallen’s his name, I hear he preaches out of the law here.”

“Perhaps I can tell you what he said,” Terry calmly asserted.  “After his welcome, he told you four things:

“First, he told you that God loves man and wants to have fellowship with him.  He probably cited John 3:16, which says, ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that every one who believes in him may not be lost, but have Immortal Life.’”

“That sounds right,” Barton said.

“Then he probably told you that all people have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard, citing Romans 3:23: ‘For all have sinned, and all fall short of God’s glorious ideal.’  He also doubtless said here that God, in his justice, requires the penalty of eternal separation from Him: ‘The wages of Sin are Death, but the gift of God is Immortal Life, through union with Christ Jesus, our Lord.’”

“That’s it,” Barton agreed.  Julian and Darlene were very quiet by then.

Terry continued.  “After that he surely mentioned that God had made provision for man to have a personal relationship with him: “Him who never knew sin God made to be Sin, on our behalf; so that we, through union with him, might become the Righteousness of God.”

“You act like you were there,” Barton mused.

“Finally, he told you that you had a decision to make to accept what God had provided for you: ‘But to all who did receive him he gave power to become Children of God–to those who believe in his Name.’  He then led all of you in a prayer where you admitted that you were a sinner, that you could not get to heaven on your own, that you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, trusting Him for your eternal life.”

“That’s pretty much it,” Barton agreed.  “How did you know all of that?”

“Who do you think taught me?” Terry answered.

“I was in a lot of pain that night—I didn’t track it very well.”

“Barton, you need to make that prayer and commitment yours, because if you don’t, what you will suffer in eternity will make all the pain you’ve endured since the battle seem very, very small.”  Terry stated.

Barton looked at Terry intently.  While their eyes were riveted at each other, Darlene eased out of her seat and onto the floor, where she was on her knees in front of him.  She calmly took both of his hands; with that he shifted his eye contact from Terry to her.  Looking down at Darlene, he almost saw her brother, with all of his authority, having come back from the dead, but both the message and the delivery were vastly different.

“Barton, are you ready to pray that prayer with me tonight?  Are you ready to accept Jesus as your personal Saviour?”  Darlene asked.  They looked at each other for a moment that felt and was eternal.

“Yes, Your Highness, I am,” he replied, tears welling up in his eyes.”  With Terry’s help, Darlene then led him in the same prayer that Terry had just described.

When that was done, Barton helped Darlene off of the floor, and they embraced.  They spent a few minutes talking about what had just happened; Darlene gave him the same Bible that Terry had given her on the way home from the trip.  Terry then asked if he would like to pray for his situation, which he was glad for.  Julian applied the nard to his forehead and they prayed, but Terry was in for another surprise: Darlene prayed part of the time in tongues.

“You tell Tim Mallen to come see me,” Barton told Terry as they were leaving.

“I’ll do it,” Terry responded.  They said a long goodbye and left to return to the palace.

“I didn’t know you had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, Darlene,” Terry told her as they pulled out into the Old Beran Road.

“It just happened a couple of days ago, while I was praying with the Queen.”

“Did she receive it also.”

“Of course,” Darlene responded.

A little later Julian said, “Terry, now that you are becoming a minister in the Church of Serelia, you should be careful about your Pentecostal contacts.  If he is lost to the Church because of this, you could be in serious trouble.”

“His eternity is more important—that’s the risk I have to take,” Terry replied.

“Maybe not,” Darlene mused.

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