Archive for the ‘Family and Friends’ Category

A few years ago I started a blog called Good News for a Change in which I hoped to share uplifting articles, encouraging news, and stories of people finding ways to accomplish good things. Sadly the blog fell by the wayside for a number of reasons but I’ve always liked the idea.

SO… with this post… I am reinstating Good News for a Change, not as a blog, but as a category within this Getting Started blog — which has a much longer history and larger readership.

The following was submitted by a fellow clergyman and written by a friend of his, Steve Farmer. Enjoy the good news! And anytime you have good news to share please do. Add a comment below, or send me a note back-channel and I’ll write up an article for you.

Steve writes:

“Back to work today, forgot my pass so locked bike outside Cannon Street [London] station. Left work at 6pm to find just the cut lock and no bike, resigned to never seeing my trusty stead again asked the station if they have cameras. A guy appeared waving at me, asked me to put the code into my cut lock. He replied ‘I have your bike’ with a smile I will never forget!! His name is Abdul Muneeb and he works for South Eastern Railways, he was on a break and saw a guy bolt cut the lock and challenged him to give it back, he then took it inside and waited 4 hours after his shift finished to personally make sure I got my bike back. The world needs more Abdul’s, he is a legend of a man and a credit to his employer.”


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As requested, the following is a transcript of my comments at Gabe’s memorial service today at East Liberty Presbyterian Church, 7/29/18  Family and friends are welcome to share.


I first met Gabe D’Abruzzo when he was 5, not quite 6, and I was in my early 20s and just out of Duquesne’s music school.

Gabe was one of my first piano students and I was his first teacher.  Working with Gabe was exceptional from Day One.  Gabe came to his very first piano lesson having already figured out some of the melodies of songs and commercials on the radio.  And even though he wasn’t quite sure which fingers to use, the notes and the rhythms were spot-on.

My mind immediately went to something one of our professors had taught us, which was: “don’t ever say to a parent ‘I think your child is going to grow up to be a musician’.”  It’s not fair to the kid, who has his whole life ahead of him. So I bit my tongue hard and got down to teaching.

Gabe was, from the very beginning, unquenchable, with a great love for learning and a sense of adventure. He just soaked everything up. Within a few months Gabe was starting to write jingles for his grandparents’ corner deli that used to be in the Allentown section of Pittsburgh.

Two stories I wanted to share from those early days. The first speaks to Gabe’s generosity of spirit. At its peak my piano studio had about 20 students, and at the end of each year I would rent out a church hall and we would have an informal recital.  The studio included some adult beginners as well as children, and the adults were a bit intimidated by Gabe.  And I would tell them ‘look, don’t compare yourself to him, he’s exceptional’ but it didn’t help much  At some point Gabe got wind of this, and he wouldn’t have it.  From that point on he did everything he could to encourage the adults: he would tell them ‘keep practicing, you can do it’ and he’d look for ways to make them feel comfortable and feel at ease.  Gabe never, ever wanted anyone to feel left out or left behind.

The second thing I remember from back then was the first time I introduced Gabe to gospel music.  Gabe has always loved the music of the church, from the very beginning. So one day I pulled out an arrangement of the old gospel song Precious Lord Take My Hand. This particular arrangement started out in a slow, straight 3/4 and then the second verse launches into a 9/8 swing with blue notes tossed in.  Gabe looked at the first verse, and looked at the second verse, and his eyes got huge, and he said, “You can do that?!?” – meaning ‘it’s OK to not play exactly what’s on the page, it’s OK to take a melody and change it around a little bit and make it your own’ – and a whole world opened up in his mind. Those of you who have heard Gabe play know that you could just toss him a melody and he’d just take off with it.  That started when he was maybe eight years old.

By the time Gabe was in middle-school he was playing things I’d learned in college… and I was starting to wonder what to do next!  So I figured it was finally time to sit Pam and Lou down and have ‘the talk’: “I think your son could become a professional musician, if that’s what he wants. Ask him, and if he’s interested, I’d like to introduce him to one of my teachers.”  And the answer came back ‘yes’ so I set up an appointment with Carmen Rummo at Duquesne.

Some of the musicians here may remember Carmen Rummo (may he rest in peace). He was a favorite professor at Duquesne, much loved, once you got past the sheer terror at the idea of playing in front of him. (Gabe wasn’t the least bit fazed.)  And Carmen’s reaction was “he’s good” – which was about the highest praise a person could get from him.  So I asked Carmen ‘what do I do next?’ and he said ‘you’re doing fine, keep going’ and he gave me a few pointers.

And so we went on for about another year. About that time, like many musicians back in the 90s, I changed careers into the computer field.  (I kinda liked eating!) So I disbanded the studio – with the exception of Gabe – but it became clear to me over that year, in spite of Carmen’s encouragement, Gabe really did need someone who could take him to the next level – someone who could prepare him for auditions and competitions and things like that.  So again I spoke with Pam & Lou and we settled on Charlotte Day, who did a fantastic job of preparing Gabe for Duquesne.

At the time, though, when Gabe got wind of the change in piano teachers, he was very hurt and angry with me. I think he felt like I was abandoning him, which of course couldn’t have been further from the truth, but it was painful for both of us.

After that I think the first time Gabe and I had a real conversation was after he’d finished his undergrad degree.  He had just played a concert at Ascension and I went backstage and told him ‘you sound great!’  And he began to talk to me about one of the pieces – I think it was a Bach Partita – and about how something in the bass line of the development was a retrograde-crab-walk-thing… I had no idea what he was talking about!  And he realized he’d lost me, and the penny dropped… and for the first time he realized he now knew more about music than I did, and could play things I would never play. He understood, but he was also like, “you know you could if you wanted to…” and I assured him it was OK, I really was happy in my new career.

From that point on, Gabe always introduced me to his friends proudly as “my piano teacher” – not ‘my old piano teacher’ or ‘my first piano teacher’ but ‘my piano teacher’.  He would not allow me to be left behind.

And so today it’s a great and sad irony that all of us are the ones feeling left behind.  Gabe would never in a million years have wanted that for us. But where it comes to making the final journey, none of us knows when that will happen. We know each one of us will have to walk that road someday. And we know we will see Gabe again, alive and happy and whole, and singing in the celestial choir. Or better yet, listening to the angels sing and saying, “You can do that?!?”

As the Apostle Paul says, “we do not grieve as those without hope”. (I Thess 4:13) “For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and… God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in him.” (I Thess 4:14)

So I think maybe the best way to remember Gabe and to honor his life is to love God the way Gabe did, and to do our best to see that nobody is left behind.

I’m going to miss him so much….

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Reading: 2 Samuel 6:1-5 and 12-19 at end of post

Back in 1992 the Queen of England looked back over a year in which Prince Charles and Diana, Prince Andrew and Fergie, and Princess Anne and Mark Philips all separated and headed for divorce. And the Queen described it as an “annus horribilus” – a horrible year.

This past week has been a horrible week.

Last Sunday morning the members of our sister church, Fairhaven United Methodist, woke up to the news that their choir director Ricardo Tobia had been murdered.  As we put our heads and hearts together, all we really knew at that point was that neighbors had called in a wellness check early Saturday morning, and the police had gone in and found the bodies of a man and a dog, and they were saying it was a homicide. They hadn’t released any names yet.

And that’s all we knew. A few folks were holding on to the hope that maybe it wasn’t Ricardo. But as the news continued to unfold on Sunday and Monday and Tuesday, the worst was confirmed. And the description of the crime scene given in the press is too gruesome to talk about, or even to think about for more than a few seconds at a time.

This morning Ricardo was supposed to have been the lay reader at Fairhaven, and I was looking forward to serving with him again and hoping he might even have a solo for us. I can’t imagine never hearing his voice again… or debating with him over the relative merits of this hymn vs that hymn… or never hearing his students again, who he used to invite to come and sing and share their gifts. Ricardo and his students had a mutual love for each other, and the tributes on Facebook bring tears to the eyes. So many of his students say things like “he believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself.” There’s no higher tribute a student can give a teacher.

At a time like this the question that keeps coming back is: WHY??? Why did this have to happen? How could anyone do such a thing? I mean, yes, we understand that the man who has been arrested has a history of mental illness… but that doesn’t really answer to the question, not really.

And then a few days after that, another news story broke, about a Pittsburgh musician who lost his life in the rip tides off the coast of New Jersey.  That young man was Gabriel D’Abruzzo. Gabe was a piano student of mine when he was a kid and we stayed friends over the years. He grew up to be an amazing musician.  And there’s a connection between Gabe and our sister church Hill Top United Methodist: Gabe was a friend and accompanist to Erin Ehrlich when she was studying at Duquesne; and Gabe’s family is originally from the Allentown neighborhood. In fact his grandparents owned the Micromart & Deli that used to be next door to Barry Funeral Home, across from the church. Gabe was the kindest, most generous person you’d want to know. And he was only 42.

Over the weeks and months ahead we will be coming to terms with these losses, or at the very least comforting those who are grieving. And the question of why do these things happen – why do horrible things happen to good people – is one of the toughest things in life to deal with. Books upon books have been written to trying to answer these questions, and I don’t know that any of them give an answer that really satisfies.

So this week I was looking at our scripture reading for today, about the Ark of the Covenant, and as I read, I found it actually spoke to me about these questions and about what we’re going through this week.  Because when I find myself asking the question ‘why?’ or ‘Where is God in all this?’ – what I really want is assurance that God is still there and still cares about the people I love.

In the Old Testament the Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God.  As the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness after being set free from Egypt, the Ark was always in the middle of the people. When they set up camp, the Ark was in the middle of the camp, with three tribes on each side, north, south, east and west.


But today’s passage doesn’t take place during that wilderness time. It takes place at a time when the Ark had actually been lost, and Israel was wondering if God was still with them.  The people of Israel had gone to war against the Philistines, and because they wanted God on their side, they took the Ark into battle with them. And they lost the battle. When it was all over, Eli the priest was dead, Eli’s sons were dead, the Ark was captured by the enemy, and Eli’s daughter-in-law, who saw the Ark being carried off as she was dying in childbirth, named her son ‘Ichabod’ – which means ‘the glory of God has departed’.

The Israelites had made the mistake of thinking the Ark had some kind of magical power that could be used and manipulated in battle, as if God could be forced to be on their side. It’s kind of like in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.  You may remember the end of that movie, when the Nazis dressed up like Jewish priests and opened the Ark believing they would find invincibility and maybe even immortality, and in the end they end up essentially being cremated alive.

But the Ark was just a box covered with gold, with angels on top… very pretty, but it wasn’t God, and it wasn’t magic. What made the Ark a sign of God’s presence was not what was on the outside, but what was on the inside: the Ten Commandments, the original stones on which the finger of God had written; the rod of Aaron, used in witnessing to Pharaoh; and a jar of manna, the ‘bread of heaven’ which the people had eaten in the wilderness. Or to put it another way, what was inside the Ark represented: the law, the prophets, and the bread of life.

At times like these, God is still with us in these ways. We have God’s word, and we have God’s promises, and we have the Bread of Heaven, and we have the Body of Christ. We are not alone. And we can take comfort in knowing that God is also present with Ricardo and with Gabe.  Much as we miss them and wish they were still here, they are still with God in a place where they will never again experience pain or sorrow.

In the days of ancient Israel, the Ark of the Covenant used to sit inside the holy of holies in the tabernacle, separated from the worshipers by a curtain. But when Jesus died, scripture tells us “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matt 27:51) – removing the barrier between the people and the Ark.  So no longer is God’s presence hidden.

The law and the prophets and the Bread of Heaven are with us always – by the power of the Spirit, inside us. As God promised in the words of Jeremiah, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer. 31:33)

And Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matt. 5:17)  So the law of Moses and the writings of the prophets are fulfilled in Jesus, who is the bread of heaven. And Jesus said: “Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:51)

At times of tragedy like this, we can’t help but ask the question “why?” – even if the answers God gives don’t start with “because…”. Instead God’s answers start with: “I am here. I am present with you. I am with those you love, and those you love are with me.” In such a horrible week, Jesus stands with us, and weeps with us.

For the time being our job is to stay here, and to be like the Ark in this world. Because we have, written on our hearts, the law and the prophets, and the Bread of Heaven, we become like the Ark for others who need to know God’s presence. And just like David rejoiced in the presence of God, we also rejoice in God’s presence… even through our tears.

May those we love who are no longer with us rest in peace and rise in glory. AMEN.


David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.  2 David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim.  3 They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart  4 with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark.  5 David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the LORD with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

It was told King David, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing;  13 and when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling.  14 David danced before the LORD with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod.  15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

 16 As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.  17 They brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the LORD.  18 When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts,  19 and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people went back to their homes. – 2 Samuel 6:1-5 and 12-19



 Preached at Carnegie United Methodist Church and Hill Top United Methodist Church, 7/15/18


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(Note: This letter was originally written for the newsletters of the South Hills Partnership of Methodist Churches but I wanted to make it available in its entirety to a wider audience.)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the near future our Partnership will be asking for food donations for newly-arrived refugees in our Partnership neighborhoods, in conjunction with the South Hills Interfaith Movement.

I know a number of people have questions about refugees: where they’re coming from, why they left home, why they’re here in the U.S., if their backgrounds have been properly checked. To give brief answers: refugees come from all over: South America, Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East. Here in Pittsburgh the majority have been from the Far East until 2016 when the Middle East began to take the lead. The refugees never wanted to leave home; they were forced to leave by war, natural disaster, persecution, or other life-threatening circumstances. That’s the legal definition of a refugee; as opposed to a ‘migrant’ (someone who travels across borders) or ‘illegal alien’ (someone who crosses our borders without permission). They wanted to come here because, like so many refugees before them, they’ve heard wonderful things about the United States.  The background checks before they can enter the U.S take an average of two years, plus more interviews and tests once they’re here.

Those are the facts. But like most things in life, facts don’t tell the whole story.

I have known a number of refugees, and without exception I am better for having known them. One is a classmate by  the name of Abraham. abrahamnhialAbraham was one of the “Lost Boys” of South Sudan. When he was a child during the Sudanese civil war, soldiers attacked his village, burned it to the ground, and killed the people. Abraham survived only because he was in the fields tending the cows. He saw his village burning and knew if he went home he would be killed, so he ran. As he traveled east – walking a distance of nearly 300 miles to refugee camps in Ethiopia – he met up with other ‘lost boys’ who also survived, and they helped each other. From Ethiopia they were brought to the United States, where they were able to finish their educations, and Abraham trained to become an Anglican priest. He said: “I am going to go back to Sudan and find the men who killed my family and tell them about the love of Jesus.” Abraham is now serving as a Bishop in the Anglican church of South Sudan.

menrefugeechildOne refugee family I met here in Pittsburgh – an extended family of two brothers, their two wives and many children – are from Aleppo, Syria. They became refugees when their home and city were bombed. They are anxious to learn about their new country, and eager to hear about Jesus, so they invited about a half-dozen people connected to the seminary to visit for dinner. What a spread! Tabbouleh, grape leaves, chicken, salads, naan bread… more than we could possibly eat… followed by tea and coffee.  Their elementary-school-age children know more English than their parents, so they carried the evening.  And though we couldn’t communicate much, I indicated my appreciation to the one mother who had done all this cooking while very pregnant. She smiled and pointed to her belly and said “American!” – so proud to be the mother of a future American! I haven’t been able to visit again but the family is now hosting an international Bible study in their home every other week, which friends of mine attend.

I could talk about facts and figures… point out that right now there are more than 65 million people in the world who are without a country… but numbers like these are too big to get our minds around.  Consider instead the words of one refugee: “you don’t put your children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”

I believe this refugee crisis will be the defining moment of our generation. The repercussions of so many homeless people will change the course of world history for decades to come. How we respond to the crisis will determine not only the future of the refugees but our future as well – because care for the stranger is so important to God, and so central to what God requires of His people.

There’s little most of us can do, from where we live, to ease this crisis that’s happening so far away. But what little we can do, we need to do. At a time like this, every act of kindness makes a difference.

Thank you,

Rev. Peg Bowman


A few statistics to think on

Where refugees come from… (in millions)
(notice Colombia, South America, is in the Top Ten)  (source: Buzzfeed)


…and where they go (in millions) (source: Buzzfeed)


Refugee travel routes to Europe (source: Human Rights Watch)
Countries that were formerly “destination countries” — like Libya and Jordan — are now becoming source countries themselves.


Syrian refugees accepted into the U.S.
(actual numbers, not thousands or millions) (source: CDC)


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Dear readers,

I just heard from classmate and friend Qampicha Wario, who was recently named Bishop of Marsabit, Kenya.  Before becoming Bishop, Qampicha founded and directed the building of a school named Tumaini in Northern Kenya that welcomes both Christian and Muslim students and provides an opportunity for education for children of families who could not otherwise afford it — both boys and girls.

Northern Kenya

Northern Kenya

Qampicha’s diocese is currently experiencing extreme drought and famine conditions.  He recently wrote to his friends in the States:


Friends, Marsabit Diocese is situated in the vast arid and semi arid region of northern Kenya. This area normally receives two season between March and June (normally long rain) and between September and November (Short rain).  This year we received very little rain and no rain in some areas. There was no harvest from the farm. The short rain has failed and the area is hard hit with drought. The livestock are dying for lack of pasture and people are starving for lack of food. Over eighty percent of people in Northern Kenya depend on livestock for their livelihood. Now that the livestock are dying people’s livelihood is cut and a climate of despair hangs over the villages. Most people have no money to buy food, there are no market for emaciated and dying animals. For some communities, water sources at some boreholes are far away and people walk long distances and wait for hours to fetch water. The prices of food has gone up and out of reach for the already vulnerable communities who have no reliable source of income.

As I write the drought situation in northern Kenya has been declared a disaster. 

The church is expected to intervene and alleviate human suffering. But we are financially incapacitated to help.

Please pray with us for God’s provision and intervention….


To read the full text of Qampicha’s letter click here.  Please pray for the people of Kenya, both young and old, and for the survival of their animals. And if you are able to help financially please do so – there is a link at the bottom of Qampicha’s letter.

Thank you! ❤


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When I started this blog nearly a decade ago my purpose was to share my thoughts and experiences as I explored seminary and a future full of question marks… to toss ideas out there and to get insights from others. I’m thankful for the many folks who have encouraged and challenged me with your comments, both here or in person.

The Sea of Galilee

I’m now an ordained Deacon in the Anglican Church (ACNA) and am a regular preacher in local Methodist and Anglican churches, and Lord willing will be ordained Priest sometime within the next year or so.

By request of a number of friends, family, and parishioners, this blog has become a place to put sermons I’ve preached — but I’m hoping it won’t be limited to just that in the future. So hang in there, subscribers, there’s more to come!

In the meantime I’d like to invite everyone to check out a new blog some friends and I have put together. It’s called GoodNewsForAChange.  So many people I talk to these days feel dragged down by the constant bombardment of bad news in the media and in the world around us; and yet so many of my colleagues in ministry (professional or lay) see so much good news happening on a day-to-day basis, we decided we wanted to share it.

So if you’re hungry for a bit of good news come visit us at GoodNewsForAChange and say “hi”!



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Prayer request: The latest update from Bishop Grant LeMarquand and his wife Doctor Wendy who are ministering in Gambella, Ethiopia.


An update from Bishop Grant & Doctor Wendy LeMarquand.

More Sorrow

As I drove through the town of Itang, little seemed amiss. Luke, our deacon in this area, asked me to stop. “We can walk from here,” he said. As I got out of the vehicle the smell of burnt wood struck me. A hundred feet or so past where we parked we came around a corner – nothing but charred wood and ashes – more than 200 homes gone in one night. Our Anglican church was still standing – perhaps the attackers here had a sense of the fear of God that led them to spare that one building. If only they knew that the people they attacked were made in God’s image and more precious to Him than any building.

2016 has been a difficult year for Gambella – and it is only April.

The refugee crisis

Two years of civil war in South Sudan has brought 300,000 refugees into Gambella, roughly doubling the population of the region. The increased population has resulted in many stresses on the resources of an already fragile social system. Water, electricity, internet service have all been in short supply. Although Gambella is not densely populated, access to arable land and to river water for the needs of agriculture, animals and humans is becoming more and more contested.

The Anuak-Nuer conflict

Perhaps the most important challenge, however, has been the change in the ethnic make up of the region. The Anuak, for generations the majority people group in Gambella, are now vastly outnumbered due to the influx of refugees fleeing the conflict in neighbouring South Sudan, almost all of whom are Nuer. Tension resulting from different views and uses of land has once more sparked conflict. The Anuak, as well as hunting and fishing, are more settled in the land, planting crops and having a sense of ownership of the land they till. The Nuer, are traditionally nomadic cattle herders who drive their cattle through all land; the land that they believe belongs to God and is therefore free for their use. 

At the end of January this tension became violent. The details of the fighting are vague and under-reported, but the short version is that a few dozen people were killed, many injured, and hundreds of homes burned and looted. Some of the Nuer and Anuak youth actually looted the villages of their own people who fled from fear of violence. The town and region are still filled with anxiety two months later. Nuer cannot safely travel into Anuak areas and Anuak are afraid to enter Nuer enclaves. The Federal Police and Army are seeking to keep order, but violence has flared up in several places.

Our church life has been deeply affected. Our theological students (five Nuer and five Anuak) must have classes in separate places for now. Travel to some places is too dangerous and many people are stranded away from home and are being cared for by church members and family. Some are running out of food or the ability to purchase more.

If these troubles weren’t devastating enough, bad turned to worse in mid-April.

The Murle attacks

Early on the morning of April 15th, large, heavily armed groups of Murle people crossed into Ethiopia from South Sudan. The Murle have had a long history of raiding the cattle of neighbouring ethnic groups, killing any who stand in their way (or happen to be in the wrong place) and kidnapping children who are then assimilated into their people. The reports were truly horrific. Young Murle men with automatic weapons killing indiscriminately in the areas of Lare, Jikwao and Nininyang – all places where we have Anglican churches.  The first reports said 140 Nuer people, mostly women and children, were dead. The death toll went up steadily – 160, 182. It is now being reported that 208 have died, at least 82 treated for bullet wounds in the Gambella hospital (others have been moved to hospitals in Metu and Jimma), as many as 108 women and children have been abducted. 

David Yao Yao, a former Murle politician turned cattle rider has denied responsibility. He did claim (truly enough) that the war in South Sudan (mostly between Dinka and Nuer, although this is an over-simplification) has so destabilized the eastern regions of South Sudan that the area is virtually lawless. It seems that it was only a matter of time before the chaos ensued. The Ethiopian government and the South Sudan government have said they will work together to track down the perpetrators of this brutality and rescue those abducted. We will see. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia declared two days of mourning.

The only good news is that the rains have started – it is harder to raid cattle in the rain, so this event might not be repeated (this year).

These overlapping tragedies of civil war and the massive influx of refugees, the ethnic violence over land between the Anuak and Nuer, and now these appalling Murle raids have left our people feeling raw and fearful.

Jewi camp 

Just a couple of days after the Murle attacks, a truck owned by an NGO and driven by a “highlander” drove into Jewi Refugee camp just a few miles outside of Gambella town. ‘Highlander’ is the name given to non-Gambellan Ethiopians – Amharas, Tigrayans, Oromos and others – who are lighter skinned and quite different culturally from those groups native to Gambella. The truck struck and killed two Nuer children. Enraged refugees, no doubt already tense and on edge, responded with vengeance killing at least nine (perhaps more, reports are conflicting) highlanders. Vengeance leads to vengeance. Highlanders in Gambella began a march to the camp to kill Nuer. A highlander mob tried to attack Newlands, the Nuer part of Gambella town. Many were praying. Thankfully, perhaps miraculously, highlander retaliation was turned back by the Ethiopian (highlander) army. Although cars were burned in the centre of town, blocking the roads, and gunfire was heard sporadically throughout the day (warning shots thankfully), fewer casualties than expected were reported. As of April 25th, Gambella remains in simmering, tangible fear and anger.

The Anglican situation

Information has been hard to obtain from the villages and refugee camps. The internet has functioned only part of the time. Quite a number of relatives of our church members were killed during the Anuak-Nuer clashes. Many members were looted or had their houses burned. We have so far learned that, during the Murle raids, three members of our Anglican congregation in Kowkow (near Lare) were killed and 1 child abducted. The sister of one of our clergy was also killed in another village and her child abducted. I have little doubt that we will hear similar details from other villages. Pray for our clergy and lay readers seeking to bring comfort to those who mourn and practical aid to many in need.

Thanks for asking

Many have been asking us, how they can help respond to the suffering in Gambella, and the needs of those who have lost loved ones, whose houses have been burned or looted, who need food, clothing and shelter. As one of our people told us, “There are many who are very suffering”. Some have been directly hit, others have been stranded without means for food, unable to return to their home area. The simplest and quickest way to help would be through a donation to our ‘Samaritan Fund’. See below for donation links, but please specify that the gift is to be given to “Ethiopia – Samaritan Fund”.

For those wishing to make a contribution in response to this crisis, please click on this link for “The Friends of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt”:
Funds can be donated online or by cheque. Please specify:
Ethiopia – Samaritan Fund.


There is a wonderful African saying, “I am because We are”. Identity is known in relationship; in belonging to your community.
This can be unfortunate in places that have a tradition in which baby boys are blood covenanted at birth to the revenge
of their grandfather’s enemies. The revenge of family and community can be a part  of identity. It is very hard, especially for a young man, to say, “No. I will not join in the fighting”.
Now our churches have a saying “One Lord, one family, one blood”. The blood of Jesus speaks a stronger word, than the blood of Abel; the blood that cries out for revenge. Heb 12:25

~ Please Pray with us ~

Please pray for Peace in Gambella and in South Sudan

Pray for a functioning government in the eastern regions of South Sudan. 

Pray for evangelists to reach out to the Murle people so that their society can be transformed by the saving and healing love of Christ.


Pray for comfort for those who mourn and for wisdom for those bringing comfort.

Pray for an end to the culture of vengeance.

If you would like to share in our work,
see the following charitable donation links:

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Grant LeMarquand and Dr. Wendy LeMarquand
are missionaries of SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders).
Bishop Grant is area bishop for the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Eretrea, Djibouti); under the Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.


Copyright © 2016 Bishop Grant and Doctor Wendy, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this e-mail if you requested or signed up
Our mailing address is:Bishop Grant and Doctor Wendy

c/o SAMS

PO Box 399

Ambridge, PA 15003


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It only took seven years attending part-time but I finally made it!
Master of Divinity degree, 2014.

Trinity School for Ministry Class of 2014

Trinity School for Ministry Class of 2014

Trinity (formerly “Episcopal”) School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA is an evangelical seminary in the Anglican tradition.  Founded in the 1970s as the only evangelical Episcopal seminary in the United States, Trinity quickly became the fastest-growing seminary in the Episcopal denomination.  The name “School for Ministry” (as opposed to “Seminary”) was given because its founders wanted the focus of Trinity’s education to be on reaching the people outside the school’s walls, not hunkering down in ivory towers.

With the fragmenting of the Episcopal church in the 21st century, Trinity has chosen to shed an exclusive denominational relationship in favor of growing ecumenical and international partnerships.  Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians are now trained for ministry at Trinity as well as Anglicans and Episcopalians.

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Greetings all!  God willing and all continues to go well, this will be my last health-related post for awhile.  The eight-week mark is the point at which my doctors expected I would return to work, and that’s just about spot on.  I’ve been back at the tax office part-time for a couple of weeks, and will be returning to the music ministry at Carnegie Presby this Sunday.  Computer training is pretty slow this time of year so I don’t expect to be doing much teaching in Nov/Dec (which is fine by me!)  But there are already irons in the fire for upcoming work in 2013 at both the local community college and with a longstanding private client.

On the whole I feel fairly normal most of the time these days.  I still get tired easily but the afternoon nap is no longer obligatory.  I still can’t run a comb through my hair without hitting some tender spots, and I’m still sleeping with my head propped WAY up so I don’t roll over onto the suture locations, but other than that I am pain-free.  What should be my final follow-up doctor’s appointment is coming up on Tuesday… will post an update only if the all-clear is not given.

I am looking forward to using my remaining free time in 2012 to pop in at Trinity for some visits, to spend time with friends, to find and join a new church home, to get back onto a modified diet-and-exercise program (I’ve gained a good bit of weight!), and to do some re-prioritizing.

Sooooo… moving forward, I’ll be returning this blog to the primary purpose of exploring faith-related themes.  For those of you who have been following my posts through this adventure, thank you for keeping me company, and thank you for your prayers.

Much love,


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Just a quick note to say I had the one-month post-op checkup with my PCP this morning and she is VERY pleased with my progress!  Apart from a few twinges now and then I am now pain-free, and look and sound healthy.  She was also admiring the handiwork on my incisions and how well my hair was handled to be able to cover them.  The only real after-effect I still have is that I get tired very easily, and often take a nap or two during the day.

We talked about my returning to work and agreed on a program of easing slowly back into regular activities.  Next week I am good to return to the tax office for up to six hours and to accompanying choir rehearsals on Thursday nights.  Hours will gradually increase until things are back to more-or-less normal in about a month.  At this point it looks like I will have three more Sunday mornings off before returning to leading music at Carnegie Presby on a regular basis.  And by Thanksgiving I should be good to resume teaching computer classes.

In a sense one more month off seems like a long time but in another sense it seems like a really short time!!  I have a lot to do before mid-Nov: get the car repaired, get Christmas shopping done, plan the rest of the ’12-’13 choir season, and more.  Taking this time off has really highlighted how nuts my life has been, and how much I need to slow down, focus on my calling, and let other things go.

Continued thanks to all for your cards, phone calls, and most of all your prayers, without which I would most likely not be sitting here typing to you tonight!

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The “two steps forward, one step back” pattern is still holding.  At least progress is in the right direction!

I had a bit of a setback this past Tuesday at my regularly scheduled checkups.  All the staples are now out of my skull (yaayy!) but in the process of removing them one of the wounds re-opened a little and had to be stitched closed – five stitches, pronto, and without pain killers.  The area is still extremely tender three days later.  The same day the interior of my ears and nose were examined: both ears are healthy and doing great (yaaayyy!) but my sinuses have collected some post-operative gunk that needs to be flushed out.  I am now doing a twice-daily routine with saline solution that I never knew was physically possible and discovering stuff up my nose that I never knew a body could produce. Yukkk.

Apart from all this, though, progress continues.  I’m slowly returning to a more “normal” schedule, starting the day around 6AM and having breakfast around 7:30 every day.  I am driving a little more and getting out to run errands a little more.  I’m able to do a little more around the house every day, though I’m not up to housecleaning yet… sending out a thank-you to my mother-in-law who knows someone who cleans houses!  And I was able to visit my father-in-law in the hospital yesterday for about an hour — please keep him (and my husband’s family) in prayer as he faces his final bout with cancer.

Bottom line, I’m at that awkward stage where I’m getting antsy to dive back into friendships and daily life but I know I’m not quite physically up to it yet.  Every hour out of the house requires two hours of rest when I get home.  For now small steps are good.


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It’s hard to believe an entire week has gone by since my release from hospital!  Just wanted to send out a quick update for everyone.

First I really need to say a huge “thank you” to the folks who have prayed, sent cards, called, visited, cooked, provided transportation, etc.  I couldn’t have made it even this far without you!!

Just a few of the cards and flowers

Second, for those who haven’t seen me yet – I am very grateful to my surgeons for doing their work in such a way that I can do “comb-overs” of the incision areas.  Even though I can’t quite get a comb through all my hair yet, I can arrange it to look just about normal (minus conditioner, which is on the do-not-do list… overall my hair looks a bit straggly) and I can hide all signs of incisions, scars, etc.  People who have visited have been surprised at how good I look compared to what they were expecting, and I have to agree.  It does wonders for my mental outlook to know  hair-shaving has been kept to a minimum and I’m not walking around looking like the bride of Frankenstein.  Truth be told, I haven’t even actually seen the incisions much myself… I can feel them with my fingers but getting a glimpse in the mirror is not easy.

The incision runs from above my ear to where my fingers are… I can’t see it, can you?

Physically each day brings a little improvement.  I’ve been off the pain meds for *almost* a week so I’m now officially OK to drive, tho I’m not driving very much or very far yet.  I’ve made it to the local ATM and back, and to the local Market District and back (Curbside Express is fantastic!)  It feels good to be out and about but I get tired quickly and need to rest when I get home.  The sutures from the first surgery came out this week… the second set will come out this coming Tuesday.  The rest of the stuff on the docs’ do-not-do list (bending over, lifting, vacuuming, doing laundry, blowing nose, etc) is still in effect for another 10 days.

Mentally my focus is beginning to return.  Conversation is much easier now than it was a week ago.  I have gotten back into daily Bible reading and prayer, and have started reading magazines and newspapers again.  I’m just about feeling like starting on my new Nicholas Sparks book… maybe this week!  I have also been able to do a wee bit of work from the tax office here at home and will be gradually adding to that over the next couple weeks.  Overall I still feel a bit fuzz-brained but breaking through the fuzz is becoming easier than it was.

Food-wise I’m doing great – eating just about everything in sight!  At this rate I will need to get back on an exercise program A.S.A.P.!  And spiritually I have a number of things to contemplate and evaluate and work into daily life.  It’s good to have time to reflect while the physical healing continues.

Prepping for Dan & Mindy’s Wedding… OK to wash but not OK to use conditioner. It’s the best I can do.

That’s about the latest… more to come soon…!

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I’m happy to report I am home and back at the computer keyboard!  Life is slowly returning to some sense of normalcy.

In answer to the question “how are you doing?” – my post-surgery pain has been manageable and I have been off the prescription pain meds for a few days now.  I still feel a bit groggy though, and the brain feels like it’s running at about 25% of normal capacity… it takes time and effort to hold a conversation.  Plus the fact that I needed a breathing tube for both surgeries, which has left my speaking voice weak and raspy… strike two against conversation.  That said, I appreciate visitors and do the best I can with phone calls.  I am physically weak, and I get tired easily and usually take a nap or two during the day.  I am still not permitted to drive or go to work, or to bend over or lift anything heavy, but I am able to cook for myself and putz around the house a bit.  Words cannot say how much I missed my cats!  Apache especially has not left my side since my return home and his purring presence brings much comfort.

I’m not getting “out and about” yet but I’m looking forward to attending Dan & Mindy’s wedding on Saturday- my first post-surgery “outing”!

Many thanks to everyone who has kept in touch via this blog… please continue to do so!  This is still the easiest and most direct way of keeping in touch with me.  I am keeping the home phone shut off until after Nov 4 in order to give myself a chance to rest and recover.  Email, Facebook and cell phone are all switched back on again but I don’t check them as frequently as I normally do.

Above all, a huge “thank you” to those who have been praying, sending cards and flowers, visiting, and so much more.  It’s times like these when it becomes abundantly clear how much we need each other and literally can’t make it without friends.  Keep the prayers going & hope to see you again soon.

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Blogging from my hospital room via Android… we’ll see how this works out! A friend who visited a few days ago asked me, “so what have you learned from all this?”, and rather than pull out the new rendition of “my (not so) favorite things” hospital version that my music teacher and I had been working on, I gave a fairly straight answer. The one thing that has come through for me in spades this past week is the great need for an “advocate”… someone who can speak for you and look after your best interests when you are too sick too, or too drugged to, or too exhausted to. Someone who will stay by your side sometimes for hours watching for that one moment when their words will be needed. Someday when I am a pastor may God grant me the grace to be an advocate for someone.

And in a wonderful parallel this speaks to our need for Jesus. who is our great advocate… speaking for us when we cannot… doing for us what we cannot possibly do for ourselves. I hope to write more about this in the near future. Till then goodnight and keep your mighty angels guard over your people o Lord. Amen.

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