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A Visit With The Loves

by George Marshall, Editor

Just 55 miles north of Albany, a mere one hour drive, lies the town of Lake Luzerne - population 2,200 (U.S. Census). The town's main street, Lake Avenue, is a not-so-surprisingly, heavily traveled thoroughfare. On Lake Avenue is St. Mary's Episcopal Church; its rector The Very Reverend William H. Love - newly elected Bishop Coadjutor of Albany.

Next door to the attractive natural stone Anglo-Swiss style church is the rectory and home of Fr. Bill, wife Karen, and their children Chris and Catie. It is now 48 hours after the election, and the Loves are kind enough to allow me to visit with them for a brief "chat" about the past few days.

The impact of Fr. Bill's election has yet to "sink" in on the family. When asked to comment, Fr. Bill is quick to state his deep appreciation to the many people for their love and support of him and his family. He recalls, in great detail, that on the day of the election, he felt the presence of the Holy Spirit throughout the Cathedral. Fr. Bill stated that he allowed his name to be placed in nomination because he believed God was calling him to be part of this election process. On the fourth ballot, he discovered he was not simply suppose to be part of the process, but was in fact being called to be bishop - and a new beginning for the Loves.

As the family name implies, the Loves are a loving family. They are devoted to each other, the church, and to the Lord. It's easy to see that this is not the typical American family. Fr. Bill was once a U.S.A.F. Intelligence Office, and now Priest and soon-to-be bishop. Karen is a Colonel in the Air Force, and has piloted C130 airplanes over the South Pole and around the world with much the same ease as others drive their Ford, Chevy or Honda to Albany.

Fr. Bill and Karen feel blessed to have two wonderful children. Son, Chris, who was not home during my visit, was recently named valedictorian of his high school graduating class. He will continue on to college in the fall - still undecided between Hamilton & Holy Cross, both of which he has been accepted. A difficult decision is needed to be made soon. Daughter, Catie can also proudly hold her own. A straight "A" student in junior high school, she is personable, bright, active in school, and an accomplished musician and athlete. If that isn't enough, this week she was also elected President of the National Jr. Honor Society. I would be remiss not to mention another member of this family - Annie, their faithful canine in residence. Annie's wagging tail, obvious adoration for all members of the family, makes her the unofficial family protector and "welcomer" to all visitors. I can personally attest to her credentials!

Karen reveals unabashed pride in her husband. Although it is difficult for her to express her feelings in words, she is unapologetic in demonstrating uncompromising love and support of her husband. A touch of her hand or a revealing eye says much. Daughter, Catie, reiterates that pride of her Dad, and, not surprisingly, has some trepidation as to where life will take them. She knows very well that her life, and the life of her family, will inevitably change.

Change is not new to Fr. Bill. A Texan by birth, he was born in Dallas August 14, 1957. He received his BA at Southwest Texas State University in 1980 and, after his Air Force service, received his MS at SUNY Plattsburgh in 1988.

Over the years, Fr. Bill had a strong calling to the priesthood. First receiving his M Div from Nashotah House in 1991, he was Ordained Deacon June 1991, and served as Dean's Vicar at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany. Ordained a Priest in 1992, he then became Rector of St. Mary's-Lake Luzerne.

Things began to change at St. Mary's after Fr. Bill arrived. New outreach ministries were initiated, a major restoration of the 130-year old church was undertaken, and the parish grew. Average Sunday attendance, once as low as 20, is now approximately 85. [It wasn't until I arrived home that I realized the astonishment in that attendance figure. St Mary's 85 members represent 4+% of the town's total 2,200 population, while the Episcopal Church's current 2.3 million membership represents less than 1% of the total U.S. population of approximately 330 million!]

Questions about the future were asked during this visit, but left mainly unanswered. It seems unlikely that the Loves will leave the Lake Luzerne area for awhile. Catie has five years to go until she graduates from high school, and, at this writing, the family plans to remain in the area until she graduates. One thing is certain - St. Mary's Church leadership will soon begin a search for a new rector.

It is now time for the Loves to prepare dinner, time for me to leave and hopefully return another day. Beginning tomorrow morning, Karen will be gone for several days, on a major military exercise. The children will return to school, and Fr. Bill will ponder on the recent events and what God has in store for him in the years to come. Prayers for Fr. Bill, Karen and the entire Love family are cordially invited.

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