Sailing to Church
Two couples who never met before had the extraordinary career of part-time ministries in common. Bruce Queen of Richmond is an intentional interim minister, and so was the late father of Jane O’Dell of York SC. Her husband Mike works with the Baptist Church of North Carolina in the wheelhouse of such ministers.
“They are often brought in when a minister retires,” Mike explained. Jane added, “The church may have had a long-time pastor whom they feel cannot be easily replaced. Rather than promote someone right away, they bring in the interim to make sure they get it right for the ultimate successor.”
Churches also fire their minister and need a quick replacement. Or they need a two-fer like Bruce who serves temporarily while advising the lay board on how to fix whatever ails a failing church. For the past year, he’s been spending three days a week with a church in Front Royal VA.
Bruce is an accomplished sailor and ASA instructor. “We were on a cruise ship last year with an all-access pass throughout the boat. As we went into one port, I made my way up the bridge and showed the captain my ASA 110 Docking credential. I told him I could help him dock the ship and he said, ‘No way.’”
We sailed straight out the York River on a cloudy, blustery day of 15 mph winds. The boat cut through the waves all the way out to Goodwin Island, where the river meets Chesapeake Bay. We passed an anchored oil freighter on the stern.
On the way back, Mike took the helm on a beam-to-broad reach all the way to VIMS. Two-foot waves rocked the aft quarter, as if pushing on the helmsman’s shoulder. That, combined with the incoming tidal current, propelled us along at exactly the 12 mph winds we were tracking. “I didn’t experience much current on the Brazos River,” Mike said of his Texas heritage. “It was only a hundred yards across at the widest point.”
“We sailed years ago, in Oklahoma City,” Jane said. “It was very windy and we were on a 15- or 18-foot sailboat. I didn’t like it because it was so windy. What’s more, the water was muddy and I got wet on my new white slacks. I told Mike to take me to shore and then he could sail by himself. Well, it took two hours to tack back and forth to reach shore. All these years, tacking has a special meaning for us.”
Once we returned inland, Mike tacked back and forth across the York with great finesse and using only the genoa.
Bruce and Marga’s daughter Marissa recalled a tipsy time on a larger boat. She said, “We were on a cruise ship one time when the stabilizers failed and the boat leaned back and forth. Some people were wearing seasick patches behind their ears. A little old lady walked up to a crew member of the ship and asked, ‘What religion are they?’’’
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