A Frightening Thought, Then Hope

My daughter Sarah came home from Camp Hardtner today. We had our debriefing regarding camp amidst cooking Carrie’s birthday dinner of blackened talapia and birthday cake.

She shared with me the very scary statistic that, at the church camp for the Dioceses of Western Louisiana and Louisiana, in her cabin, she was the only girl out of 11 other girls, aged anywhere from 11 to 13, whose parents were still married.

After more sharing of what went on at camp, I found out that, during first camp with Caroline, my mother “rocked”, according to the counselors, as far as a grandmother participating versus some parents who didn’t participate all that much.

Then, I found out that Fr. Freddie (Fred) Duvall, a counselor when I was a senior and a fellow resident of Cannon Hall at Sewanee, organized a Eucharist at 7:30 each morning for the counselors during Camp. I also found out that Sarah overheard this and attended Eucharist each day, as the lone camper among the counselors, until the last day, when, somewhat at her insistence of jostling some people out of bed, her entire cabin went to morning Eucharist. During these morning Eucharists, Freddie would have her participate by reading the Prayers of the People, perhaps a reading from the lectionary on some days, and would have her come stand next to him at the altar as he celebrated.

Those of you who have read my blog have known for some time about Sarah and the spiritual gifts she has. I stand in awe of how much my child has grown and knowing that this surely could not be my influence on her life, but the Lord’s and possibly their mother’s. Amazingly, I see the same amazing growth in Caroline and her spirituality as well. The main thing she was looking forward to was having chapel in the pool when she went off to First Camp.

But, so I don’t discount myself so much, I think it is a good thing that my daughters draw pictures for me to take to men in prison to share the love of Jesus with these men, and that, unless I’m in prison, they are with their Dad in the pew while their Mom is in the choir, while he is on his knees, every Sunday. But, that fails to account for the results. Praise God that my children know HIM! Even more praise that they are, in their own way, leading others to Him.

18 Responses to “A Frightening Thought, Then Hope”

  1. 1 Timothy Fountain June 24, 2008 at 7:29 am

    Praise God! Thanks for this great news and inspiration.

  2. 2 Sibyl June 24, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Many blessings to you and your family. Thank you for sharing this encouragement with us.

    A Christian family is a bit of heaven, the image of Christ is lifted up when we live and love Him and each other, when we glorify Him in His Church.

    I pray Ephesians 3:20-21 and Philippians 1:9-11 for your family. Amen

  3. 3 Aunt B June 24, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    The statistic you cited, here, and in our phone conversation, last evening, represents failure, on many levels. What we witnessed in church, Sunday, does, as well.

    Sarah, on the other hand, represents the genuine hope in and of Christ. She is a model we all must emulate and not simply a representation in which we may take comfort. That said, however, this heavy heart is grateful for the comfort. Very.

  4. 4 Henry June 24, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    I’m thrilled for you and your children. You are setting a great example for them, and it is working.

    My only question about camp (I’m assuming this was church camp???) is why was there a daily Eucharist for the counselors and not the campers??? From all my years of attending camp, working at camp, and now sending my kids to camp, I’ve never known one that didn’t have a daily Mass for all. Our kids learn from experience!

  5. 5 Fr. G June 24, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    OK….I’ll bite….what happened in church on Sunday????

  6. 6 anglicanprayer June 24, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Brad, what a wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing so that we can rejoice with you in what the Lord is doing in your family. Awesome! May His blessings continually abound.

    Karen B.

  7. 7 R. Scott Purdy June 24, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Praise God for this blessing!

    What happened on Sunday?

  8. 8 Alice C. Linsley June 24, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    What matters is what is happening in our hearts! God is so good.

    Brad, keep up the good work of fathering 2 wonderful daughters. Fathers are so important for the self-esteem and emotional and spiritual well-being of their daughters.

  9. 9 descant June 24, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Okay, since people are biting. Is is appropriate to use the Occaisonal Services from for the blessing of a pregnancy on an unwed mother?

  10. 10 descant June 24, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Oh, one other thing. Each day had either Compline or Eucharist for the entire camp. The morning Eucharist was quite early and was before the kiddos were up.

  11. 11 John Delmore June 24, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    “Okay, since people are biting. Is is appropriate to use the Occaisonal Services from for the blessing of a pregnancy on an unwed mother?”

    Is it inappropriate to wish them well? To (GASP) bless them for health, well-being and God’s protection? Granted, it’s not the situation we’d all like to see, but c’mon–would you rather she have an abortion? Or just exist in some weird purgatory-like state between damnation and God’s blessing? Personally, I think God has mercy also on the sinner, and further, that ‘they’ need more blessing that the, ahem, righteous…

  12. 12 Alice C. Linsley June 25, 2008 at 12:39 am

    A young unwed mother needs God’s blessing more than a mature married one!

  13. 13 Alice C. Linsley June 25, 2008 at 12:42 am

    BTW, Brad, a school psychologist from Monroe has left an impressive comment at Ethics Forum, here:


    You and your readers might find it interesting.

  14. 14 R. Scott Purdy June 25, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    “Okay, since people are biting. Is is appropriate to use the Occaisonal Services from for the blessing of a pregnancy on an unwed mother?”

    Is it ok to bless an unborn child, created by God, and ask for God’s protection?
    Is it ok to bless a sinner seeking God’s help and grace?
    Absolutely yes.

    Is it ok to bless sinful behavior?

    There are certainly ways to do the former and not the latter in this type of situation, and to provide all the gospel message.

  15. 15 Mad Potter June 25, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    Brad, we must both be doing something right. My Sara, no “h”, was at the early service 4 mornings also, she reports they did it 5 mornings. Your Sarah and My Sara were cabin mates last year. On the Stand Firm blog last week some one asked me about caring about what happened to the Anglican Communion meaning what if the GS pulled out, if I remember correctly. My answer was that on my list of things I worry about, the Anglican Communion was very far down the list. That getting Sara back safe from Hardtner was near the top of the list, and having the summer camping program available for her in the future trumped all the concerns about what the Global South did. And I was not kidding.

    If we could agree on only one thing, and we do agree on much more, it is how wonderful and special a week spent at Camp Hardtner is for the campers and staff alike. Your mother must be a very special person to survive first camp. I took my son 11 years ago (I think) to the first ever “first camp” and I could not keep up. I love the fresh faces on drop off day, and the exhausted faces on pick up morning. I never hear much until Sara has had a day to sleep.

  16. 16 Camp Staff Junior Hi I July 1, 2008 at 2:38 am

    As someone who was at Sarah’s session, let me clarify that daily Eucharist was offered to and for all persons attending camp – counselors, campers, and any other persons. I attended almost every morning’s Eucharist, and although not overwhelmingly attended by campers, there were at least several in attendance each day.

  17. 17 Another Hardtner mother July 1, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    I must agree with the second Sara’s parent. My daughter was in the same cabin as whomever wrote this blog. Not only were there other campers in attendance at morning Eucharist – and EVERYONE was invited and welcomed to join if they wished, but this person’s child was not the only one in their cabin to have their parents still together. Yes, it’s sad that there is divorce present in the world today – but as is well known – no one is perfect, without fault – or without failings. I’m so glad that Sarah’s parents are still together. However, I don’t think most Episcopalians, make the decision to divorce lightly.

    Camp does – as it always has – have a worship service EVERY single day of camp. Also generally – besides the first day of camp when campers are still in the ice-breaking stage – the campers are very involved via participation in each service (acolyting, reading the lessons, and prayers of the people). Fr. Freddie (who was a counselor at my senior camp as well), has always been a very spiritual and inclusive person. To insinuate that the camper’s were not invited to attend the morning Eucharist shows me that this blogger doesn’t seem to remember him very well, nor know him now – which is sad, because of the wonderful person and priest that he is.

    Re: the question of whether an unmarried woman be able to have her pregnancy blessed. Why in God’s name wouldn’t they? Does the Episcopal Church sign not say “The Episcopal Church Welcomes YOU”??? There is no pretext as to who the “you” is … as it should be. Yes, being married while pregnant is a good thing … but having a child is a blessing whether one is married or not. No one, but God Himself, should be allowed to judge if this woman – or her unborn child – is worthy of a blessing … during a Eucharist or any other time.

    The peace of God be with you, and may you one day be so blessed as to find the understanding of Hardtner love.

    Susan Hackett Walpole

  18. 18 descant July 1, 2008 at 10:40 pm


    Well, I do have a pretty good understand of “Hardtner” love, which is the love of Christ. Moreover, I went there for 12 years as a camper and have been there for numerous Cursillos and Kairos Outsides.

    I wrote what my daughter told me. If she was incorrect, that is not all that surprising as kids say all manner of things in camp cabins. My wife the former Episcopal Camp counselor in the Diocese of Florida pointed that out.

    I not only went to Camp with Freddie, I also went to college with Freddie. I think Freddie is a good guy and friend. I didn’t suggest otherwise. Susan, I suspect I may have gone to camp with you, so many years ago.

    However, I am fairly sure this morning Eucharist was not the sole worship service, and was not the “mandatory” daily worship service for camp, which can (or at least used to) range from Morning Prayer to Compline to Eucharist. Even chapel in the pool, which I did at First Camp not too many years ago. The morning Eucharist was something extra. If there was a smattering of other campers that went, that’s great. I’m not surprised that Freddie was open and inclusive of everyone that showed up.

    The whole point of this post, Susan, was merely to share with my regular blog readers of how proud I was of my daughter for going to Eucharist every morning when she didn’t have to. I related her story just as she said it to me. Perhaps she exaggerated.

    As to the other issue about blessing an unwed mother’s pregnancy, I don’t really have a big issue with that but some folks, rightly so, would have hoped the priest would have at least suggested that the couple get married. My Aunt B brought it up, it was off topic for this thread, but everyone was curious.

    Brad Drell
    Drell’s Descants

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