For whatever reason, perhaps because of certain elements of my background and life experiences, I seem to know a lot of ministers. While we may have differences of opinion and often lively discussions of theological issues, I have enjoyed having as social acquaintances if not close friends a variety of 'men of the cloth' (and a few women, too).
This past Friday, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Father Steve Hines, the new priest at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Lincolnton. I owe him a meal--he insisted on paying for mine--but that gives me a reason to enjoy meeting with him again, and I shall look forward to it.
While the purpose of our lunch was for me to get to know him so I could write an article about the new priest at St. Luke's, he was inquisitive about my life journey and probably learned as much about me as I about him. He appears to me to be the kind of person who is like that with everyone, a quality I find very worthy in a priest.
On a recent Saturday, in preparation for Sunday services, he was seen mowing the lawn at the church. That willingness to do what is necessary also seems very worthy in a priest.
Like myself, he is a senior citizen, although my junior by a few years. Born in Austin, Texas, he lived many of his early years in Houston. His father was also an Episcopal priest and became the presiding bishop for the church in the US. His father was a native of Seneca, SC, and that helped to bring Steve back to this part of the country.
His father's role moved the family to Connecticut and that's where he received training at Berkeley Seminary. He then pastored a church in Houston, Texas, where he not only met President George H.W. Bush and Barbara, but had dinner at their home.
From 1982 - 1990 he served a church in Cashiers, NC. Not only his father, but also two brothers served as Episcopal clergy. His education also included St. Stephen's Episcopal School, Hobart College and the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest. After working in Austin and Houston, Father Hines moved to North Carolina in 1982. He also served as a missionary in Haiti, teaching at the Episcopal seminary there during 1990 - 1991. He served in churches in Asheville and Highlands, NC, Hattiesburg, MS, and Danville, KY. One of his interim assignments turned into a dozen years.
Currently, he spends half the week in Cashiers and the other half in Lincolnton. In addition to the Eucharist, he also teaches a Christian education class for adults on Sunday mornings in the Parish House.
For anyone who is not familiar, St. Luke's is Lincolnton's oldest church, tracing the beginning of its congregation back to 1736. The actual foundation of the church can be traced back to historical records as having occurred in 1841. The church was built in 1842 -1843. It is located at 303 N. Cedar Street in Lincolnton (corner of Cedar and Sycamore).
By the way, the church also has a new organist--Dr. Wayne Caskey. Sunday's Adult Forum is held in the Parish House at 9 AM and the Sunday service including Holy Eucharist at 10:30.
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