Yesterday my wife was in the hospital recovering from a minor surgery. After the afternoon shift change a new nurse, R., came in and introduced herself. My wife and I have seen a bit of the world but we'd never heard a name like hers, so my wife asked. In excellent American English R. responded, "I'm from Nigeria."
"Nigeria!" my wife and I both exclaimed. My wife went on to explain, "We've been praying for Nigeria, that the killings in the north might stop and that the government corruption would be rooted out."
She didn't go on to explain how our attention was initially drawn to Nigeria, through our watching the antics of the Episcopal church's leaders and the turmoil they've caused in the Anglican Communion. Some have even surmised that the leadership of the world-wide Anglican Communion might pass from the Archbishop of Canterbury (England, Rowan Williams) to the outspoken Archbishop of Abuja (Nigeria, Peter Akinola). There are, I might add, far many more Anglicans in Nigeria alone than in North America and Britain combined, though I don't have the numbers at hand.
(I have not mentioned any of this before because it's outside the scope of this blog -- as in most churches, probably few of our congregation know what's happening outside the walls of our own church. Besides that I'm a chronicler, not a pundit; I'd have nothing to add to the discussion.)
In any case, R. noted that she'd come to the States 11 years ago; the conversation then turned to nursing and R. went on with her work. She was quiet, but we sensed a sweet spirit.
A few hours later, exhausted from a long day, I left and Fr. Daniel and little son Danny arrived for a visit. Fr. Daniel must have been wearing his clericals because the visit sparked another conversation during which, as my wife reported later, R. said, "In my country I was an Anglican."
But in her 11 years here she has not found an Anglican church home. I remember the two or three months before we found St. Bartholomew's; I cannot imagine 11 years, in a strange country as well.
Fr. Daniel extended an invitation to R. to come visit us at St. Bartholomew's. Although I suspect our form of worship may be a little different from what she was accustomed to, and I do not know if she has a church home now, but... who knows? Maybe this could be a first step towards her coming home to an Anglican church in America.