In the Shed with Reverend Fred … and Friends: Building a Boat - Building a Community! (What Happens in the Shed doesn’t stay in the Shed!)
In the Shed with Reverend Fred … and Friends: Building a Boat - Building a Community! (What Happens in the Shed doesn’t stay in the Shed!) March 5, 2019
“So God said to Noah … ‘make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.’” (Genesis, Chapter 6)
The past seven days have been filled with travel for me. It began on Tuesday, February 26, when I drove to Clarenville to join the clergy of the Archdeaconry of Trinity-Conception-Placentia for their annual pre-Lenten retreat. It was a great time of fellowship, reflection and sharing and I so appreciate the support they so readily offer to one another. Kudos to Archdeacon Jotie Noel for organizing everything, right down to a movie night when we watched the movie All Saints together. In reflecting upon the retreat, it is noticeable to me how easily our conversations shift into matters of Mission and Outreach today and I believe that a “sea change” has happened in our church that is setting us on a different course. I have never been more hopeful for the future.
After the retreat I lingered in the western part of our diocese on the Avalon Peninsula to spend extra time with some of our clergy and their people (particularly in Arnold’s Cove but more of that in a minute) before getting home for one night, only to sail the next day for Bell Island with Archdeacon Sam Rose where we spent the weekend. On Bell Island we celebrated the abundant new life evident in our church of St. Cyprian and St. Mary and it was also a time to give thanks for the long and fruitful ministry of Archdeacon Ron Lee who, after seven years there, will retire this spring. Monday saw me back at Synod Office for a few hours and a few meetings and later today and tomorrow I will hit the road again (so to speak).
Getting back to my time in and around the Isthmus last week, a particular joy for me was my evening “In the Shed with Reverend Fred.” By now, many of you have heard about this special ministry that our priest in the Parish of Living Water, the Reverend Fred Marshall, began a few years ago for the men of Arnold’s Cove and surrounding communities. Below, he’s going to tell a bit of that story himself, but before I share his words with you, I want to say what a rich blessing it was for me to be with Fred and his group last Thursday night. The name of the ministry is really “In the Shed with Reverend Fred: Building a Boat - Building a Community.”
The current shed belongs to Trevor Hoskins, a husband and father now, but a young Server for me when I ministered in Arnold’s Cove about 30 years ago. Trevor’s shed is #3, for the men have already outgrown two others because of their expanding numbers and ambitious projects, beginning with the shed behind the rectory in Arnold’s Cove. As Reverend Fred will reflect upon shortly, in the beginning it was a small gathering of men for fellowship and reflection but before long they moved into “Naval Architecture and Fabrication,” notably the construction of traditional Newfoundland wooden boats. Together, the men have brought back a skill from yesteryear and given it new purpose in the present day. When I was there last week, in a parish where I served for six years, I met many old friends and made a few new ones as we built a boat while a boiler of soup bubbled on the stove behind us.
For me the evening was a reminder of what can be accomplished with a little imagination and a nice bit of goodwill. In this case a community of friends has blossomed that is a blessing for them and a benefit for others. In an age when conversations within our church must, of necessity, be concerned about Mission, it was inspiring for me to see how the Mission of God can take root among a group of men building a boat in a shed. In this case “what happens in the shed definitely doesn’t stay in the shed” for the good work began among Reverend Fred and Friends is making a difference far beyond their small band of Newfoundland Boat Builders. Yes, they are Building a Boat, but they are also very much Building a Community!
I end with these few words from Rev. Fred himself who wrote me an e-mail after I left Arnold’s Cove that night with some thoughts on the voyage so far. I share it pretty much as he transmitted it to me …
“Good morning Bishop: Hope you had a safe drive home. We had a great evening …
Last night you asked me whose idea was it to build a boat and I said it was mine. I thought about that last night and I think I am falsely taking credit.
When we look back and reflect on our thoughts, as random as they may be at times, our experiences, and what seems to be a chance encounter, through the lens of Missio Dei [the Mission of God], we may be getting a glimpse into where God is working and find our calling to participate.
In reflecting, I expect that four years ago when I looked at the congregation from the altar one Sunday morning God said “go find the men.” As I looked around and listened to the people, God may have said “you will find them in a shed.” As I look back men gathered from the very beginning as we prepared the shed and put in a woodstove. Men gathered as we sat around the woodstove on Thursday nights to discuss “Small answers to big questions” and made wooden figures for a Sunday School. Through an encounter with Reverend David Burrows I believe God led me to an International Wooden Boat Building Seminar at the Marine Institute and then said “build a boat and you will find more men.” God also said “You will need a bigger shed …”