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It’s Almost Over

2016 October 22

Bishop David EppsThankfully, the presidential debates are finally over. In just a few weeks the debacle and embarrassment that has been this presidential election will also be over. Never have two candidates been so loathed by so many. When one listens to people’s comments or checks out the postings on social media, it seems that almost no one is for their candidate. Rather they are against the other candidate. That’s not the best reason to vote for someone but it is what it is this year.

A rather large number of people are apparently choosing to vote for neither, choosing to stay home and not vote at all, vote for one of the third party candidates, or vote for all the offices except for the presidency. This election has been rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct on the one hand and corruption and lies on the other hand. One might have to go all the way back to the 1800’s to find an electorate so dismayed.

There are some passionate people of course, as there always are. There are the die-hards who would vote for a rattlesnake if it was a republican or a democrat. My family came from a long line of “yellow dog democrats.” That is, they would vote for a yellow dog before they would vote republican. My maternal grandfather broke out of the pack when George McGovern was the Democratic nominee. He just couldn’t bring himself to vote for a man who he thought was close to being a socialist. I can’t even begin to imagine what he would think today.

Some in my family, once the switch was made, tended to see the Republican Party as the party of morality and of law and order. Indeed, members of Jerry Falwell’s “moral majority” tended to vote republican. Having been burned by Jimmy Carter who was touted as “born again,” they switched to Ronald Reagan who talked the talk but, reportedly, Nancy held séances in the White House.

In past elections, one party and then the other could see its candidate as the “good” choice or a “bad” choice. At least, one candidate was “better” than the other. This year, the primary voters have selected what seems to be “the evil of two lessers.” Democrats are keeping an embarrassed silence about the WikiLeaks revelations regarding their candidate while a number of Republican leaders are distancing themselves from their own nominee.

But…it’s almost over. Just weeks from now one or the other of the candidates will be the President of the United States. One of the most loathed and distrusted people will be elected to the highest office in the land. It would seem like a comedy if it weren’t such a tragedy. But, maybe the opinion-givers, such as myself, will all be wrong. Maybe either President Donald J. Trump or President Hillary R. Clinton will be the best president, the most inspiring, and most respected leader in American history. It could happen. And if you believe that, I have some ocean front property in Tennessee I’d like to sell you.

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 Salt (Free) Life

2016 October 18
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Bishop David EppsI have been placed on a very restrictive, less-sodium (salt) diet. That is, I have to do without sodium as much as possible. The upper limit is 2,000 mg of sodium daily. When the doctor first said that, I thought, “Oh that’s not too bad. I don’t really add salt to much anyway.” The reality of the situation came home quickly.

Almost everything we normally eat has sodium content. Much of what we drink is filled with sodium. For, example, I regularly drink diet green tea that is sold in a bottle. No calories at all. That single bottle of tea has 170 mg of sodium. I was going through 6 – 10 a day. Okay, that’s out. Also out is about anything that comes in a can or anything that comes in a package. Bacon? Out. Cheese? Out. Bread? Mostly out. Maybe one sandwich a day, max. All of a sudden nearly everything in our cupboards and refrigerator was out. When the realization hit, panic set in. Well, not panic, really, but the sincere question of what I was going to eat was real.

Why restrict my salt? About nine weeks ago, I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and heart failure. A cardioversion, where the heart is electrically shocked back into normal rhythm, failed. A Cardiac PET scan determined that I had no blockages so that’s good news. After being on certain medications for a couple of week, a second cardio version was attempted. So far, it seems to have worked. At the last check, my heart was thumping along at 67 beats per minute which is worlds better than the 130-150 beats I was experiencing earlier. But there was another problem.

My body was retaining water which made it hard to walk and made it especially hard to breathe. When the doctor discovered that I had basically put on about 16 pounds in a few weeks and that lower extremities were painfully swollen, he quadrupled my diuretic medication and put the no salt rule into effect.

So, I am learning to eat differently than I ever have before. I have decided, rather than lament my situation (which does no good and only serves to irritate people around me), to treat this new world as a culinary adventure. Time will tell whether this approach will be successful but, so far, so good. It must be working because I dropped eleven pounds in two days and the ankle swelling was down significantly. And, thanks to the diuretic, I am getting some exercise in as I race-walk to the bathroom.

Because I am not yet restricted on calories, I can still eat things that taste good as long as the sodium content is low or non-existent. I can sauté veggies in olive oil. In fact, I can fry sliced potatoes in olive oil. I can have fish and even meats in limited quantities. Hamburgers are in, to a point, but hot dogs are out. Sausage is out but eggs are in. Nuts of all types are in, candy and cookies are out. Almost all fruits and vegetables are in as long as they don’t come in a can or a package (For frozen stuff in a package, check the sodium content).

The other day, I was behind a car that had a sticker in the window. It said, “Salt Life.” Ah, not for me, at least not the kind of “salt life” I’ve been living. I wonder if I can find a window sticker that says, “The Salt Free Life?” That is now the life I live.

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

This Bizarre Election

2016 October 12
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Bishop David EppsI watched all of fifteen minutes of the first presidential debate. Then, I turned it off and went to bed early. I told my wife that this election cycle seems to be to be surreal. One dictionary definition of “surreal,” is, “of or like a dream; fantastic, hallucinatory, bizarre, etc.” I don’t know about being a dream or fantastic, but it certainly is bizarre. It may be the most bizarre election in modern American history. I keep hoping that it is “hallucinatory,” but, nope. It’s real. And bizarre.

Without getting into the personalities, or histories, or policies of the two major candidates, something posted on Facebook seems to sum it up, for me at least: “338 million people in America and THIS is the best we could do?” But we did this. We either did not vote in the primaries, and have lost the right to have an intelligent opinion, or we did vote in the primaries and this is what we, the American citizenry, have decided. Bizarre.

Now, the Democrats and Republicans will fight and claw to the death over “their” candidate but polls show that neither candidate is trusted, neither candidate is liked, and neither candidate comes without significant negative baggage. It has been said that 90% of likely voters have made their minds up already so all the debates, all the rallies, and all the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent are to try to convince that undecided 10% to swing their way.

I heard on the news the other day that friends are being lost and that family members are being estranged over their choice of one or the other candidate. People have “unfriended” people with whom they disagree and the polarism in the nation is at an all time high. Some people are afraid to put political signs in their yards for fear of offending the neighbors and losing friends. Bizarre.

Hollywood is involved, as they always are, either on the Left or the Right, but why people would listen to them pontificate about anything has always puzzled me. These are people who read lines that other people have provided for them for a living. I once watched a popular actress being interviewed whose performances I enjoyed greatly. But, when she was one on one with the interviewer, she couldn’t string two coherent sentences together. Not without a script anyway. She came across as dumb as a post. But we live in a society that values celebrity above nearly everything else. If you’re famous, it doesn’t matter if you are dumb.

What I really want is a do-over. I want to go back two years and do all of the nominating over again. I think that surely the American people, if they could have a do-over, would make different, better choices. But, of that, I really have no confidence. Even if we could, there is scant evidence that we would.

So, we are about to elect someone to the most powerful office in the world and Americans, generally speaking, are not happy about either prospect. And I say “either prospect” because the two minor party candidates have a snowball’s chance in the center of the sun at being elected. And the people will have to live with their choice for the next four years. And who is to blame? We are. We ceased to demand excellence, competence, honesty, civility, and integrity in our leaders long ago. We are about to install into the office of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln one of these two people who are intensely disliked and distrusted. And that just seems surreal.

It seems downright bizarre.

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 Bishop’s Crucifer

2016 October 7
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Bishop David EppsI first met Seth Dickinson when he was ten years old. His family moved to the area from New Mexico and began to attend our church. Seth was the son of Paul and Susanne Dickinson and came from a rather large and loving family. Seth was special in more ways than one. Born a normal and healthy child, just before he turned three, he began to experience seizures that eventually caused permanent brain damage. Although Seth had a permanent disability, he was highly functional, extremely friendly, and incredibly outgoing.

As the family settled in to life in Georgia and to life in our church, Seth became an acolyte. There were a number of acolyte roles that he filled and he was always dependable. In fact, he would, most of the time, be the first person vested for the service. If he thought we were about to start the service late, he would sound off, “It’s time to pray!” That, he knew, was the last thing the clergy and altar party did prior to the start of the service.

In 2007, our bishop suffered a stroke from which he would not recover. Almost every time that we had prayer during our services, Seth would pray for Bishop John Holloway. When, after several years, Bishop Holloway died, Seth continued to pray, out loud, for Bishop Holloway. Once, after the service, I got him alone and asked if he knew that Bishop Holloway was with Jesus. He said, “I know that.” Then he added, “Is there any reason we can’t still pray for him?” I thought a moment and replied, “No reason at all.” And so he continued.

I was selected to become the successor to Bishop Holloway. Somewhere along the way, I came to know that the bishop could have a special cross that preceded him in the processional on Sundays. The Bishop’s Cross, especially if it is a crucifix, faces not the front, as would be expected. It faces the bishop, who is the last in line in the processional. It is a reminder that everything is about Christ and nothing is about the bishop. It is a visible reminder to walk in humility. The bearer of this cross is known as “The Bishop’s Crucifer.” I asked Seth to fill that role. He did so seriously, willingly, and consistently. In fact, he is the only Bishop’s Crucifer I have ever had. Sometimes, someone would say, “He’s carrying the cross backwards.” No, Seth understood. He had it right every time.

As time went on, Seth grew up. By the time he celebrated his 16th birthday he was as large, if not larger, than most of the men in the church. With rare exception, he was always smiling, always friendly to all, and always greeted people at church by name, if he knew their name. If he didn’t know their name he might give them a name anyway! As for me, every Sunday, he stuck out his hand, flashed that winning smile, and exclaimed, “Good morning, Bishop Epps!”

About a year ago, Seth began to have serious seizures and was hospitalized. While he was away, no one was the Bishop’s Crucifer. That was his job and it was waiting for him when he returned.

Last Monday, Seth had a serious, unexpected, and prolonged seizure. The first responders came to the house and Seth was transported by ambulance to Piedmont Newnan Hospital’s emergency room. A team of doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, and others worked hard. I received the call and rushed to the hospital. I was there when the doctors stopped the treatment. Seth was gone.

Our church has joined the family in a collective cry of grief this week. There are no words, no platitudes, no explanations that help. Seth was a member of our family and, without warning, he is gone. It’s unprofessional for ministers to cry. I don’t care. I am among those who loved Seth and love his family. Along with the family, whose loss is unbearable, I, too, have cried. Others, many others, have cried this week as well. Our youth held a vigil on Monday evening in the sanctuary. We trust God but the pain is there still.

On Saturday, October 22, there will be a memorial service for Seth Emmanuel Dickinson. Family members will arrive from across the country, friends from the home school organization will join with church members and friends from the community, and we will celebrate the life of a special and precious young man. Songs will be sung, prayers will be offered, scriptures will be read, and stories will be shared. But, for one of the very few times in several years, there will not be a bishop’s cross in the processional. That was Seth’s job. He was The Bishop’s Crucifer.

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

Music: Yesterday and Today

2016 October 4
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Bishop David EppsMy wife and I were eating at a local restaurant frequented by patrons generally much younger than ourselves. Music was playing in the background and, listening, I remarked, “That’s Credence Clearwater Revival.” Indeed it was! Other music played during the course of the meal and I recognized most of the groups and artists as being from my own high school days.

I listened to music quite a bit back in those days. Even before I arrived in high school, I would listen to records at the home of my cousin, Brenda. Brenda’s mom, my Aunt Irene, worked at Joseph’s Music Center in downtown Kingsport, Tennessee and had access to the very latest tunes. Thus, so did Brenda, and so did I. I was there in front of the television when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in glorious black and white. I reveled in the British invasion of that era and listened to records and the radio at night. When I finally got a car, the radio was always on.

When a song comes on, I can almost always recognize it and, much of the time, can sing along with the music, even if I haven’t heard the song in decades. It is a feat my wife cannot quite accomplish. Although she was in a rival high school, Sullivan Central, at the same time, she wasted her high school years by concentrating on her studies. Which is why she finished at the top of her class and I graduated summa cum barely. But, 47 years later, I have no idea how to do algebra, nor has there ever been a use for it, but I know all the words to “She Loves You.”

But this is the amazing thing—who could have possibly guessed that the music of the 1960s would still be playing in public venues frequented by young people in this present day? That would have been comparable to taking my date to Shoney’s Big Boy Restaurant after the football game in 1968 and listening to music from the 1920s! Which we didn’t. Nor the 1930s or the 1940s.

For most of us, Rock ‘n’ Roll from the 1950s was severely dated by the time we arrived on the scene. Doo-wop was old school by that time. Even Elvis was passé, at least with my high school crowd. Yet here my wife and I were, almost 50 years later, in a restaurant, in our mid-60s, with 11 grandchildren, listening to CCR! Who would have ever thought?

And it’s not just that particular restaurant. I hear “our” music all the time, so often that it seems commonplace. Why, I wonder? The music was simple, the chords were easy—which is why so many of us could aspire to being in a garage band and playing those same tunes. (I played rhythm guitar—not very well—and sang a few vocals).

Maybe it was that the music was easy to sing. Most of the time the music was also hopeful and positive. Who in my generation didn’t dance with their favorite girl to The Association’s “Cherish,” or “Never My Love?” Who of that generation didn’t identify with the gritty sound of Edwin Starr’s “War!” (What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, say it again!).

I learned that Mrs. Brown had a lovely daughter, that the Rolling Stones couldn’t get satisfaction, and that the Byrds’, “Turn, Turn , Turn,” had a message from the Old Testament that helped to make sense of life. I learned to stay away from bad places like the infamous House of the Rising Sun, and the Temptations, “My Girl,” had a message every young man longed to sing to his first love. Back then it took a dime to make a phone call and there was the hope that your girl and you would be Happy Together.

Will I still hear these songs in public in my mid-70s? Who knows? I never thought they would make it into the 1970s! In the meantime, I think I will just listen and enjoy. I’ll be Under the Boardwalk, or Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay, just California Dreaming, thinking about Yesterday, and remembering Runaround Sue and Proud Mary and feeling all those Good Vibrations. And if I have to ask for “my” music, well, I Ain’t too Proud to Beg!

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 Right to Sit

2016 October 2
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Bishop David EppsThere’s been a bit of controversy about a number of professional athletes who have decided to sit or kneel during the National Anthem instead of standing in respect. Their example has filtered down into some high school and middle school athletic events. As a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, as a graduate of the Georgia police academy, as a retired law enforcement chaplain of 25 years, and as a life-long citizen of this nation, I have a few things to say.

First of all, it is the right of every American to sit, stand, kneel, or sneer as they wish. This is not the former Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, China, or any of a number of nations where such disrespect would cost one’s freedom, if not their life. Almost 1.4 million men and women have died for their right to publicly disrespect the flag and the nation those people died for. Another 1.5 million men and women have been wounded, some horribly, serving under that same flag. Another 41,000 military personnel are still missing in action and unaccounted for. All these gave their all so that some, who prosper under this flag, would gave the right to sit, stand, kneel, or sneer as they wish.

I am fortunate to have had parents who loved this nation and to have had teachers who taught respect for the country and for the flag. From a small child, I learned that there was a proper way to show respect and that the proper way to dissent was normally at the ballot box. As I grew older and entered athletics, particularly junior high and high school football, I was blessed to have coaches who expected their athletes to demonstrate respect during the playing or the singing of the National Anthem. To sit, to kneel, or to sneer was unthinkable.

As I enlisted in the Marine Corps, I learned a whole new history of service, sacrifice, honor, valor, and courage. This was the flag under which a divided nation was ultimately united. Under this banner, global aggression, tyranny, genocide, and butchery was defeated as the Axis powers were defeated by people fighting under that flag or the flag of another Allied power. It was the flag that was raised over Iwo Jima. It was the flag that flew on the U.S.S. Missouri when Japan signed their surrender. It was this flag that was greeted with cheers by oppressed peoples through the world. Under this flag my father served, leaving rural Hawkins County, Tennessee to serve as a seaman in that global conflict. Under that flag, my football teammate Marine Joe Meade died in Vietnam. As did Jimmy Jones, another high school friend.

I have no respect for those who sit, or kneel, or sneer. I have no real anger either. I am sorry that, somehow, they missed the reality that they are able to prosper because of those who served under that flag. Somehow, they failed to be taught the greatness (not the perfectness) of this nation. On September 11, 2016, when a nation sorrowfully remembered the 15th anniversary of the 3,000 innocent people who perished because evil men and evil regimes launched an attack against this nation—while the rest of the nation placed flags on houses and graves, while flags all over the country were lowered to half staff—these few people choose to sit, or kneel, or sneer.

But it’s their right to do so. They are Americans. And millions of men and women served, fought, bled, and died so that they could do what they wanted to do. Even if what they wanted to do was to sit, kneel, or sneer at the very people who won for them that right.

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

“I Didn’t Expect to be Here!”

2016 September 15
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Bishop David EppsI had been thinking for a couple or three of months that I really needed to get back into the gym. I became short of breath when walking up a flight of stairs and I wasn’t able to swim as much before getting winded. Three weeks ago was the clincher when I drove into town to get a newspaper and became out of breath walking to the paper box.

I went home and told my wife that I thought my lung capacity was diminished. She said I needed to go to Urgent Care, since it was a Saturday. “What could they possibly do for me there?” I asked. “Well, give you a prescription for an inhaler if they find you need it,” she replied. That made sense so I agreed. I should mention that my wife is a very smart lady. Also she is a registered nurse, holds a Ph.D. in nursing, and is the associate dean of the Tanner School of Nursing at the University of West Georgia. I said that I had to visit two people in the hospital so I would go to Urgent Care on the way. And I did. That’s when everything spiralled out of control.

The nurse practitioner saw me almost immediately, asked a lot of questions, asked to call my wife, and administered an EKG. She then called my wife back and said that I was being transported to the emergency room by ambulance and that she might want to meet me there. Shocked, I protested. I argued. I flatly stated that I was not going anywhere and certainly not in an ambulance. That’s when I was told that I was not in control of this situation and, yes, I was going to do what I was told to do.

The ambulance came, I was strapped into a gurney, put in the back, had a second EKG administered, and had a line inserted into my left arm. At the hospital, I was taken back to a room where there were medical people waiting (including my wife who had to break every speed law in Georgia getting there before me) where yet another EKG was performed.

Somewhere in all of this I was made aware that the tests showed that I had an atrial fibrillation, that my heart rate was at 150 beats a minute, that it was beating improperly and irregularly, and that my blood was not being oxygenated properly. The ER doctor saw me twice, administered some IV medication, took an X-ray, and I don’t know what all else. In the end, I was discharged, told to be on extremely light duty, and to go see a cardiologist on Monday. Which I did.

I have been restricted from riding my motorcycle, have had to cancel or postpone several meetings, have been confined mostly to the house, and have had a number of appointments to be drained of blood, have an echocardiogram administered, and, yesterday, have an endoscopy and a cardioversion performed (that’s where they shock your heart in hopes of restoring a normal rhythm).

In the ER I said to the Chaplain, “Wow, when I got up this morning I sure didn’t expect to be here today.” He said, “No one ever does.” It’s funny how quickly things can change. Maybe that’s why the Psalmist prayed; “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts” Psalm 90:12, Holman Christian Standard Bible).

What’s the future? The prognosis? I don’t know just yet. But I’m not worried. My life is in His hands, as I have discovered through the years. But, assuming that things go well, I am looking forward to getting back into the gym, eventually, and getting back into some reasonable kind of shape. And a diet. I think that’s in the future for me as well. Oh, and I think I will keep listening to my wife. She’s pretty smart about things like this.

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