SOUTHERN HEAT

I am now in Rutherfordton, North Carolina where I performed at St. Francis Episcopal Church last night for a particularly engaged and appreciative (and quite large) gathering of people, a number of whom are doing EFM (Education for Ministry).  There have been a number of EFM groups attend in various places I have been to, and they always seem to be particularly clued in, perhaps because they have already studied Mark’s Gospel in some depth.

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St Francis Episcopal Church in Rutherfordton, NC. Note the similarity of the lychgate with that of St. Francis-in-the-Wood.

Perhaps it was because this church is also dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi that there seemed to be a particular sense of identification and connection – from St. Francis-in-the-Wood to St. Francis Episcopal Church in Rutherfordton.  Perhaps.  Certainly the lychgate seemed familiar!

Here’s a shot of the inside at St. Francis with the stage set for the performance:

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If you have seen shots of the set at previous venues, you will see the familiarity of the set-up, as well as adaptations because each place is different – variations on a theme.  Here’s a similar shot from St. Mark’s in Palatka, Florida where I was on Sunday, May 17:

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There was a relatively restricted space at St. Francis, Rutherfordton, as compared with St. Luke’s, Prescott, AZ or Church of the Resurrection in Longwood, FL or St. Luke’s Cathedral in Orlando, but even more so at St. Mark’s, Palatka – hence “Pilate’s seat” placed in the middle in St. Mark’s and doubling as the place of crucifixion which, in a way, it was as it was from there that the tragic sentence was handed down.

I have very much enjoyed myself in The South, as I always do – I find the intense heat somehow embracing and invigorating.  I get quite chilly when I am inside because of the air-conditioning – last night at the end of the performance, I was very happy to step outside into the evening heat to greet people afterwards.  As well as the heat, I feel surrounded by a sense of the formative history of this country – much more so than in The West because it goes back that little bit further.  For example, the B&B I am now staying in (The Carrier Houses in Rutherfordton) is a heritage home, and feels like part film set and part antique emporium!  And there are signs of the historical past (recent historical past) all around.  Here’s a glimpse of the history of St. Mark’s in Palatka:

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[You can view this image full-size to read it by clicking on it.]

And here’s a shot of the outside of St. Mark’s, note the palm trees!

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