MINISTRY AS ACCTS STAFF MEMBERS IN 2017
Busy year of ministry for both of us
This year has been yet another busy year as far as ministry as an ACCTS staff member is concerned. Although this brief update focuses on Noel, we are a “husband and wife” pair as staff members. Meryl has been involved throughout the year coordinating very beautiful and sacred quilts from Quilts of Valor which we present to combat Veterans the first time they come to the Welcome Home Initiative© (WHI©). Her ministry includes praying over each quilt (which are publicly blessed at a prayer and worship service shortly before each retreat begins), praying for each Veteran coming to the retreat.
At the female combat Veterans retreat in April, we heard and prayed much about issues of sexual trauma, oppression and lack of equality and from the reactions of each one of these precious women, there was considerable healing. It seems that as someone receives the Peace of the LORD that the presence of Jesus in our lives brings contentment, patience, calmness, strength, hope, encouragement and much more in our lives. Those who receive it are hugely helped.
Veterans Healed at Retreat
We organized and led a second retreat in November, which was also extremely successful, according to the parting comment of those who attended. Twenty male Veterans, six spouses and two other ladies with extensive military backgrounds came to the SLC from November 13-15. Our team included former Army and Navy Chaplains. During the retreat we were blessed to honor one of our most stalwart team members who died during the summer, instituting the “Ken Bliss Welcome Home Initiative Scholarship Fund” through which donors can “pay it forward” enabling Veterans to come to the next retreat.
Chaplain Ministry with ACCTS and ACNA
As most of you know, I was commissioned as a Lay Chaplain four years ago and am endorsed by the Bishop of the Armed Forces of the Anglican Church in North America. This appointment is totally integrated with my ACCTS staff role, giving the Chaplains & Veterans ministry added credibility. In addition to helping to plan, organize and run a training academy in the summer for three new Lay Chaplains, I am also responsible for some of the pastoral care of the 12 chaplains currently commissioned at the moment. Most of these chaplains are involved in ministering to Veterans, several of them in full time employment. We are organized into an open spiritual order called the Order of St. Martin of Tours, of which I was appointed Prior in 2014.
In Between Retreats
In between WHI retreats I spend my time helping Meryl with the ‘after school’ care and their activities at the YMCA. (sometimes all day care) of our two beautiful granddaughters Charlotte (10) and Lucy (7) because Toby and JoAnn both have full-time jobs; organizing the next retreat including advertising and fund-raising (at least $10K per retreat); and maintaining contact with military Chaplains and Veterans in a variety of ways especially one-to-one social media outlets. We also attended the annual ACCTS staff meeting during which I was able to co-lead a worship service ministering the Communion from the Reserved Sacrament, which was extremely well received by the 60 staff present. To relax, I tend to watch our local ice hockey team play and also watch the English Premier League games of the TV.
Noel’s health has been as good as it ever was before the stem cell transplant 5 1/2 years ago, although at 71, age creeps on. Its been a very good year! This was confirmed by both doctors at the Dana Farber Cancer Insitute and the Brigham and Women’s, although Noel continues to have effects of the Graft Verses Host Disease (GVHD) they are very pleased with his continued good health and his next check up appointments are scheduled in 6 months, June 2018. Meryl continues to manage her Diabetes and tries to pace herself and keep healthy as she too finds age creeping on.
Our family has been extremely busy in 2017
Charles, Sarah, Eve and William continue to live in north east England. The children are doing well at school. Eve has developed an interest in climbing and William is a keen soccer player. Toby, JoAnn, Charlotte and Lucy are about 3 miles away from us near Glens Falls, NY (in the beautiful North Country of New York State on the edge of the Adirondack (National) Park. Their children are also doing well at school. Charlotte has advanced to the next level in gymnastics and Lucy enjoys swimming.
Very happy visit to England
For Meryl and me the best and happiest event of the year was in July, to have our family together in one place for a week for the first time in 3 years. We took Charlotte and Lucy to England for a month in the summer, staying in the north east to whole time so the four cousins could really get to know each other. Toby and JoAnn joined us for the week. Meryl’s niece, Louise, brought her daughter, Maisie, up for two days and the five children enjoyed their time together.
Blessings of marriage and blessings of the season
We are blessed to be celebrating our 47th wedding anniversary just before Christmas.
We thank you for all you prayers, support and love. And we wish you a blessed Christmas and a happy, healthy and peace filled 2018.
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”