The Rev Farley O’Stoutville spread his digital devices across a table and then came to the counter. “I’d like two Armenian coffees and two pieces of ma’moul, please. Walnut if you have it.”
“You want both coffees at the same time?” I asked.
“I’ve got a guest coming. Another pastor who is visiting.”
“Good to know. You had me confused with your order.”
“Ah, here he is. Let me introduce you to the Rev. Inspiratio Ganymede.” We shook hands and the Rev. could tell I was puzzled by the name. “Inspiratio and I grew up together, right, Inspi?”
“We both managed to survive life in Wondertown. And yeah, that’s really my name. My parents were inspired by the Horatio Alger stories and put it together in a most unusual way.”
“Good to know, and good to meet. I’ll have the coffee out to your table soon.”
They talked and drank and ate and talked and I started over to check on refills, but the Rev. waved me away. After an hour, the visiting clergy left.
That’s when the Rev. called me to bring two more cups of coffee—one for himself and one for me.
“My friend has problems. I’m going to blow off the tension by telling you a little. He became pastor of Memorial Church following a pastor who had been there twelve years. Everything was fine. The church people said they were ready for change. The old pastor retired and moved to Montana so he’s not interfering with anything. But Inspi says that the church people resist everything he suggests. Doesn’t matter what—hymns, a feeding program, ways of reaching out to people, new services of worship. All of them rejected. He wonders what he did wrong.”
“Sounds like he’s trying to do right, but what do I know about churches?”
“Truth is that he didn’t do anything wrong other than to be the immediate successor of a long-term minister. For example, if Ms. Anne Thrope sold this business to Mr. Pennyante, management would be different. You’d probably complain that Mr. Pennyante wasn’t like Ms. Anne Thrope and we’d hear it whenever old Pennyante wasn’t here. Sooner or later, people would stop coming become the atmosphere of the shop was off. After maybe a year, things would begin to seem right again, but you might not be working for Mr. Pennyante. Same thing goes with a church. People need space after a long-term pastor, and I don’t think Memorial Church had that space before Inspi arrived. So we talk. I don’t know what will be next for Inspi, but I suspect his time will be short at Memorial. But I have a sermon that needs attention. One more cup, please—the good stuff.”