I’m recently back from a trip home to the United States, part of which was spent working at the Global Ministries booth at the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) biannual General Assembly. This year, General Assembly was held in Columbus, Ohio.
There were a number of highlights – one was the opportunity to meet and converse with the Rev. Dr. Charlotte Nabors, former missionary and professor at Thailand Theological Seminary (now McGilvary College of Divinity) in Chiang Mai (’72-’73, ’76-’78). Dr. Nabors is one of our wide community of missionaries and former missionaries whose proper address we were missing, and this has been a double encouragement, as we printed the obituary of her husband and partner in ministry, the Rev. Dr. Oran Nabors, in February, and have now been able to share it with her. We are glad we’ve been able to correct this.
Another unexpected connection came through the Revs. Robert and Dianne Steffer, long-time leaders in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and most recently known to me as immediate past curators at the Cane Ridge Meeting House in Kentucky, perhaps the most-beloved Disciples historical site. It seems that the Rev. Robert Steffer was a classmate and friend of Dr. Saisuree Chutikul at Whitworth College (now University) in Spokane, Washington, many years ago. I remember when Acharn Saisuree and Acharn Gawee were married, and the presiding minister was my own father, the Rev. Richard (Dick) Gregory.
In Christ, there are many connections, known to us or not. Our world is smaller than we sometimes think, and God’s Spirit is at work leading us, guiding us, and binding us together.
I had the opportunity to worship at my other childhood church (other than International Church, Bangkok, that is), the First Baptist Church of St. Paul, Minnesota. This is the congregation that commissioned both of my parents – Dick and Marnie Gregory – to missionary work in 1956, and it is still my father’s home church.
First Baptist Church, St. Paul, is now home to a large plurality (or possibly majority) of Karen (sometimes spelled KaRenn) tribal members, originally from Burma and Thailand. Every English-language worship service includes the scripture readings in both English and Karen, as well as a Karen-language summary of the sermon prior to its delivery. Also included are fervent prayers for Thailand and Burma, especially along the border. This was very moving to me, to know that, as we pray for Christians around the world here in Thailand, others are praying for us. This has felt particularly true in light of the August bombings in Bangkok – the first at what is colloquially known as the Erawan Shrine, where 19 were killed and more than 100 injured, and the second near the Taksin Bridge, where the device bounced and went off in the canal, with no harm to human life. In the midst of danger or uncertainty, we are never alone. For that I give thanks to God.
Anne Gregory serves as an Ecumenical Officer with the Church of Christ in Thailand. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.