Sunday, August 19, 2012

Farewell Craig Clapper

We just returned from a very nice dinner down in Plymouth honoring Pastor Craig Clapper.  He's just coming into the finish chute of his pastoring marathon--26.2 years at our church.  That was his goal when he first came to the church back in 1986, and it is really quite remarkable in our day and age of consumer driven church that he (with God's grace) pulled it off.

Four years ago we were attending a large church some thirty miles away, and as the kids were getting into high school we wanted them to be more connected to a local youth group.  We've never liked the idea of church shopping, but thought it in the best interest of everyone that we sample a few churches in our area before committing to a local body.  Well, the first church on our list was Trinity Church.  After one service there we decided not to shop around any more.  We've been pleased to call it home for these past four years, and I've been very pleased to get to know Pastor Craig.

He and I have spent many afternoons in his mobile office at Starbucks.  He'd have decaf coffee black, and would always tease me about the "fu-fu" drink I'd order (when he was paying): vanilla latte with whip cream. We'd usually discuss theology and tricky Bible passages.  Craig is a very studied pastor, and I'm sure that is part of what drew us to him.  But he's also very unpretentious and down to earth (it's not going to help my cred in the philosophy community to admit it, but I'll say that I really like that about him too).  We didn't always agree on everything, but he's the sort of guy you respect even when you disagree with him, and you feel that he respects you even when he disagrees with you.  He told me that it made him study harder knowing I was in the audience for his sermons.  I appreciate that (though sometimes regret that I have that effect on people).  On several occasions he asked me to take his place in the pulpit on a Sunday morning, which I took to be a high honor.  It made me prepare for the sermon harder knowing it was his shoes I was stepping into.  It was very good to have a relationship like that.  I'm sad it will undoubtedly change now.

Craig is retiring from Trinity, but he's not really retiring.  He's going to be the Chaplain of the Appalachian Trail (I'm not sure if it is correct to use the definite article there... it is an official position, but I don't know if he's the only one who can claim such a title--that's a lot of trail for one man to preside over).  After a stint of that, he'll be leading some trips to Israel where you hike around the Sea of Galilee and stay in people's homes.   He is certainly going to be missed at Trinity, but he's perfectly suited for these new adventures.

Fare you well, Craig.  You've fought the good fight; you've finished the race; you've kept the faith.


Mark Telloyan said...

well said; thx

Sarah Ewing said...

Very good and very well said. Yes it was a great evening.