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Remembering Divine Encounters

2015 October 5

Bishop David Epps

The Cathedral of Christ the King
Seventeenth Sunday of Pentecost
September 13, 2015

Sermon Link: Remembering Divine Encounters

The Greatness of a Nation

2015 October 4

Bishop David EppsWhen I was a student at East Tennessee State University, the professor of American History said that he was a believer of the “open gate theory.” He said that “When the gate of a nation is open, do the people run into the country or do they run out?” “This,” he said, “is the measure of the greatness of a nation.”

Back then, there were plenty of examples of people trying to flee their countries. People were landing on the shores of Miami by the boatload. No one, it seemed, wanted to stay in Cuba. In East Germany, people who tried to flee to West Germany were being gunned down. The citizens of North Korea were headed south at great risk of their lives. Many people were running out of the open gate. After I graduated from ETSU, people from South Vietnam flocked to the West Coast.

People have always flooded to America. Even when our gates are closed, people find a way around them, under them, over them, or through them. Some come legally and many more come illegally. But come they do. If my history professor is still alive, I have no doubt what his interpretation would be—people are coming to America because it is a great country.

Once in a great while, some public figure—usually a ticked off entertainer—will threaten to leave the United States over some issue. But they never do. Even though the gate swings both ways, they stay in America. On the other hand, estimates are that some 11,000,000 – 14,000,000 people are in this country illegally. A few are criminals, drug dealers, and thugs. The vast majority have come to America because they still believe that it is the Land of Opportunity. They believe in the greatness of America even when many of our own citizens no longer do.

Most of the politicians during this election cycle will spend a great deal of energy discussing what to do about dealing with these people. Maybe some thought ought to be given to harnessing the energy, optimism, and hope of these people who have come through the open gate.

In our own area, there are a fairly large number of Hispanic immigrants. Many, I suspect, are “undocumented.” Most of the folks lump them all together and refer to them as “Mexicans,” which plenty of them are not. Nevertheless, the most common sentiment that I have heard expressed is how hard these people work. In fact, someone said recently of a person with a strong work ethic, “He works like a Mexican.” While some might interpret this as a slur, the individual meant it as a compliment. He, too, has noticed that the Hispanics among us, legal or not, work hard, work long, and complain little. Like us, they are trying to build a life, support a family, and secure a future.

It says something about this nation that, even with our multitude of problems, people are still flooding to America. In great numbers. In droves, even.

In 1980, Neil Diamond sang:

On the boats and on the planes
They’re coming to America
Never looking back again,
They’re coming to America

Everywhere around the world
They’re coming to America
Ev’ry time that flag’s unfurled
They’re coming to America

Got a dream to take them there
They’re coming to America
Got a dream they’ve come to share
They’re coming to America

Such is the greatness of a nation—even when she tries to shut the gates, even when she tells people they are not welcome, they still come. My professor would be proud.

David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA ( He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee ( and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at

The Kentucky Court Clerk Situation

2015 October 2

Bishop David EppsKim Davis, Rowan County Court Clerk, made headlines and garnered national attention when she was arrested and jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. Davis, an apostolic Christian, believes gay marriage is a sin. She also believes it would be a sin for her to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple because the licenses are issued under her authority. She tried in vain to have state lawmakers change the law as a legal challenge to Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban wound its way through the federal appeals court.

So, deferring to her conscience, she chose to not issue licenses to same-sex couples. When a judge ordered her to do so and she refused, an order for contempt was issued and she was jailed. While Davis has her own checkered past, she is now an apostolic Christian. Basically, Davis is a Pentecostal and a non-Trinitarian.

Apostolic Pentecostals are the strictest of all the Pentecostal groups. Like most Pentecostals, they do not use alcohol or tobacco. They generally don’t watch TV or movies either. Women who are Apostolic Pentecostals also wear long dresses, and they don’t cut their hair or wear makeup. It’s called “external holiness.” It is her faith that has influenced her decision that led to her incarceration.

But does that give her a pass. Do the rules not apply to her? Well, the country is divided on this issue. On the one hand, the New Testament instructs believers to submit to the government and to obey civil law. On the other hand, when several of the apostles were commanded to face jail or cease preaching in the name of Jesus, they declared that they would obey God rather than man. What to do? This, each person must work out on his or her own.

Civil disobedience has a long history in the United States. From the Civil Rights protesters of the 1960’s to the Pro-Life advocates decades later, laws have been broken to follow a “higher law.” Rosa Parks broke the law. So did the Selma marchers. So did the anti-abortion advocates at a number of clinics. And many of them went to jail for their conscience sake. And here, too, was the stand of the early Christian leaders. They were willing to break the law knowing full well that civil punishment awaited them if they did.

Kim Davis is an employee of the government, not the church. True, the law changed and she faced a situation that was unexpected. Still, she was faced with a dilemma. To obey the law or obey what she saw as God’s Law. She did not believe she could do both. And so she went to jail.

But one who chooses to commit civil disobedience, for whatever the reasons, must be prepared to pay the price. Kim Davis is seen by some as a hero and by others as a fundamentalist fanatic. Elected as a Democrat, it seems that she is being championed by many Republicans.

The story is not over, unless it has been resolved prior to this article being published. It is very possible that she will lose her job. Or, perhaps, the rules will be changed and she will be accommodated in some fashion.

Kim Davis, by all accounts, is not a rabble rouser or an advocate. She worked in the clerk’s office for years and simply did her job. When the former clerk retired, she ran for office and won. She is well known in the county and in her church, Solid Rock Apostolic Church.

Ms. Davis described her religious awakening, which occurred about four years ago. She said her mother-in-law had asked, as a “dying wish,” that Ms. Davis attend church.“There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ,” Ms. Davis wrote. “I am not perfect. No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God.”

Kim Davis wasn’t trying to be a national figure, a hero, or a villain. As a new Christian, she was just trying to be faithful to her beliefs. And, like many who have come before her, she has learned that there may be a price to pay.

David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA ( He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee ( and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at

The Storms of Life: Part 1

2015 October 1

Bishop David Epps

The Cathedral of Christ the King
Fifteenth Sunday of Pentecost
August 30, 2015

Sermon Link: The Storms of Life: Part 1

The Changing Face of Marriage

2015 September 30

Bishop David EppsThis past weekend my wife and I celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary. We did so by visiting her parents who are nearing their 86th birthdays and who recently celebrated their 65th anniversary. I couldn’t help but reflect on the differences in the two generations regarding wedding anniversaries.

In their case, almost everyone that they knew in their youth remained married to the same spouse. In my/our case, almost every married couple that I/we knew in my/our youth has been divorced. I personally only know one, maybe two, couples of my high school graduating class who are still married to their original spouse. In one generation, there has been a sea of change regarding the stability of marriage.

I do not know why this is so, although I have opinions. That it is so, is almost without dispute. My parents never considered divorce, although I suspect that life was, at times, miserable for them. They made a commitment and, come what may, they determined to see it through. My wife and I thought about it frequently, especially in the early years. We are both somewhat amazed that we made it—so far, at least.

In my sons’ generation, divorce is as commonplace as a trip to McDonald’s though far more traumatic and expensive. Many in their generation already have multiple marriages and divorces. I am not making a judgment. I am merely reporting an observation. It is now commonplace for a person to have more than one marriage, and, in many cases, several marriages.

I have eleven grandchildren and the oldest will be married in a few months. The other ten will, I assume, eventually follow. What the future holds for them I cannot even begin to imagine. They are growing up in a world that would have been inconceivable to me—even more so to my parents’ generation.

There are still two parent families where the couples are married to their original spouses but there are now also blended families, families where no one is married, single parent families, families where the couples are same-sex, and families where one or both of the partners are transgendered. Others are now pushing for multiple partner marriages and a few have pushed for marriage among species!

In the past, most couples were married in churches. I have seen people married at the beach, by a lake, in the woods, in a balloon, in a garden, in the rain, in a basement, in a hospital room, at a courthouse, and in a number of non-traditional places. I still think the church is the place for Christian couples to be married.

Many wonderful advances have been made since my parents’ time, especially in the fields of science and medicine. Many of the patients I see in the hospital would have died long ago were it not for such progress. However the changes in the social fabric of society have also been enormous—and not all of them are positive. No one knows, or can even imagine, what the future will hold.

I suppose as people get older (I am almost 65) there is a tendency to lean toward the pessimistic as regards the future. Perhaps I am wrong and the future will be bright, beautiful, and wonderful. For the sake of the upcoming generations I certainly hope so.

David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA ( He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee ( and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at


2015 September 27
Comments Off on Transitions

Bishop David Epps

The Cathedral of Christ the King
Fourteenth Sunday of Pentecost
August 23, 2015

Sermon Link: Transitions

Parallel Play

2015 September 14
Comments Off on Parallel Play

Bishop David EppsIn her book, Kitchen Table Wisdom, Dr. Rachel Remen, tells the true account of a father and son who used to go mountain climbing together. Once they began their ascent, all conversation ceased. It was the same after they reached the summit and descended by another route. Dr. Remen called this “parallel play.” Both were doing their own thing, just at the same time on the same mountain. This is, she says, what 2-3 year old children do when they play together in the sandbox. They share the sandbox, the sand, and even play with the same toys. But they are not playing together. They are playing alone, even though they share the same space.

I have known married couples who live most of their lives in parallel play. The go to the movies together but never talk about what they have seen. They travel in cars together but in relative silence. One may listen to the radio while the other sightsees or reads. They eat out together but discuss nothing of substance. They may even go on vacation but, for all practical purposes, they are vacationing alone, each doing his or her own thing. They share the sandbox but play by themselves. In essence, they are roommates.

I once knew a couple like that. Even after retirement, they continued to live a life of parallel play, seemingly content. But they weren’t. Both knew that this wasn’t the life they had signed on for so long ago. Both were committed and faithful but neither was terribly happy nor fulfilled. Then one day something happened that offered to change the pattern of a lifetime. The husband was diagnosed with cancer.

As he endured several surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments, they began to notice each other. When he was able, they took driving trips together, dug up some plants from the nearby mountains for transplanting at the home, and she cared for him with devotion. But patterns are very difficult to break.

Several times during the week, he retreated to the basement to work on an unknown project. She was uncomfortable talking about the cancer and forbade family members to do so. Even when he eventually went into hospice, she monitored visits by his family so that no one would speak of his illness. Both of them declined or refused to speak of his impending death. When she was out of the room, the man told an adult son that he knew he was dying but not to worry…he had made peace with God.

When he died, a letter was found that the man had written to his wife. In it, he told her he had always loved her. There were other personal thoughts that he shared with her—thoughts he never shared while he was alive. In the basement, the family found oil paintings that he had completed for members of his family—something by which to remember him. After nearly fifty years of marriage, he died alone. She grieved alone. Parallel Play dominated until the very end.

The man and his son who climbed mountains were more fortunate. When the father developed cancer and could no longer climb, he and his son began to talk, to share, to finally really communicate. They moved, over time, from a life of parallel play to a life of real relationship for whatever time remained.

All couples start their relationship with the belief that they will have a good life and a happy marriage. Sometimes something goes awry. No one plans to spend decades in parallel play to have years pass them by and then, at the end, wonder what happened and where it all went. The fortunate ones—those who are willing to grow and to change—can leave the sandbox behind and learn to play and to live as it was intended—together!

David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA ( He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee ( and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at