10 December 2005

Family Tree

This is my great grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Ramsdell (with my great grandmother and my great uncle Paul and my Grammy Charlotte on his knee). He was father to my paternal grandmother. All I knew about him for all of my growing up years was that he was a Baptist minister. But it was said in such a way, that I saw, in my child's mind, a hick back-country preacher raging under a revival tent somewhere in the woods of Maine:

58. Thomas Jefferson6 Ramsdell (Mary Mehitable5 McGlauflin, William4, James3 MacLachlan, James2, John1) was born in Lubec, Washington, ME 13 November 1859. Thomas died 6 June 1953 in Hampden, Penobscot, ME, at 93 years of age. His body was interred in South Paris, Oxford, ME.

He married twice. He married Katherine Mary Ellis 13 May 1896 in Calais, Washington, ME. Katherine was born 28 December 1876 in South Paris, Oxford, ME. Katherine died 19 December 1906 in Caribou, Aroostook, ME, at 29 years of age. He married Minetta Joy Kitchen 30 December 1908. Thomas graduated from Colby College in 1886, Newton Theological Seminary in 1889, and received a Doctorate of Divinity from Colby College in 1912. Thomas held pastorates in Maine at South Paris, Caribou, Calais, Charlestown and Burnham. He retired on 24 March 1939 after 50 years service. One of his most outstanding career achievements involved presiding over the meeting on 8 Oct, 1915 which fused the Maine Baptists and the Freewill Baptists into the United Baptists, split since 1780.

Then, when LightGirl was about a year and a half old, I went and spent a day with my great uncle Paul (it was about 2 years before he died). He told me about my great grandfather and his passion for the church and his love for God. He told me about his own passion for Jesus and for children. I've never forgotten that day. Uncle Paul gave me something, even tho we brought him lunch and left with our hands empty. He passed something to me and I haven't forgotten it, but I don't have it firmly in my grasp yet, either.

The thing I'm really wondering about these days tho, as I read about more and more divisiveness within the Church, is that I have this family history of reconciliation and I wonder what I'm supposed to do with it. The story is buried in family papers that I have in my basement. I need to find them. There is something in that story that I need to have. I don't know what it is. Pray for me as I dig through the past to find the present.

Because here's the thing. As I've been following the discussions out in the blogosphere between the "institutional" folks and the "emerging" folks, I keep thinking that somehow everyone is missing the point. We've forgotten that collectively we are the Bride of Christ. We've all forgotten that collectively, we “are.” Collectively. We are collectively supposed to be a community of one in Christ. I don’t know quite where else to say this. But it breaks my heart right now, that of her own doing, this Bride is dressed in rags. Is it any wonder that the world has no interest in her?


Blogger kate said...

Amen and amen.

12/12/2005 01:02:00 PM  

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