Reflections on faith

October is National Clergy Appreciation Month nationwide. Parishes and congregations typically honor their pastors, priests and rabbis with expressions of appreciation for their ministries, and it seems appropriate to honor two particular members of the Mercer Island Clergy Association.

The Rev. Dr. Leslie Ann Knight of the United Methodist Church has done a masterful job in coordinating the efforts of her church as they have hosted Tent City 4 for the past 12 weeks. Her vision for serving the homeless in Christ’s name has been inspirational.

The other pastor who I would like to honor is the new shepherd of Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Nearly two years ago, when Randy Gardner left Emmanuel for another parish assignment, the Mercer Island congregation appointed a pastoral search committee. Its charge was to go on a priest hunt. How ironic that their hunt would result in the calling of a new rector by the name of Hunt Priest.

Father Priest and his wife and son came to Mercer Island from Atlanta, Ga. Prior to responding to a call to ministry and pursuing a theological education, Hunt worked in advertising and the airline industry. His winsome personality and leadership skills have resulted in his selection as the leader of the Clergy Association this year. As such, Emmanuel will host the Community Inter-faith Celebration of Gratitude on Thanksgiving Eve.

This month allows me to honor the very first pastor in my life: Rev. Edwin Asimakoupoulos. My pastor-father guided my personal faith development as a child and affirmed my call to pastoral ministry early in my teenage years. Over the past several months, I have made weekly trips to his Wenatchee home to assist my mother and brother in caring for him as his 14-year battle with cancer comes to an end. In spite of his frail condition, my dad has continued to embrace life, encourage my faith and challenge my thinking.

My dad has taught me that even a person with a terminal disease has worth. Prematurely celebrating Christmas is one thing. Prematurely punctuating a death sentence with a hurried exclamation mark is something entirely different. Making an arbitrary judgment to end a loved one’s life robs God of His prerogative as the giver and sustainer of human life. As one who celebrates the sanctity of life from the womb to the tomb, I am outraged that voters in our state are even being placed in a position to vote on Initiative 1000 next Tuesday. Physician-assisted suicide is anything but death with dignity.

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