Tea with the Lady

Published 4:30 pm Monday, September 15, 2008

A chance to mingle with old friends and make a delightful new acquaintance from “across the pond:” such was the opportunity offered to members of the Saint Thomas Episcopal Church Women (ECW) on Saturday afternoon. The ladies and their guests gathered for a tea at the lovely Chapman home of Rosa and Floyd McGowin.

The event was held in honor of Eileen, Lady Carey. She and her husband, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, were visiting Butler County to help Saint Thomas celebrate its 150th anniversary last weekend.

While Lord Carey and the men of the church enjoyed a fish fry at Conservation Lake, the ladies sampled a large and delicious variety of sweet and savory hors d’oeuvres. Many remarked on the lush, verdant murals painted on the home’s dining room walls.

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After time to meet and greet, the attendees gathered in the living room, which offered Lady Carey and the guests a picture-perfect view of the McGowins’ pretty pond.

Anne Feathers of the ECW entertained everyone with highlights from past minutes of the women’s group.

“When you look at the history of our church, women have always been a very integral part of it,” Feathers noted.

Minutes from 1914 found the women spending many hours making “fancy work” for their annual bazaar, one of the ways they raised funds for the needs of the church and its outreach efforts.

“When you consider what they accomplished, the money they managed to raise, 25 cents here and 50 cents there – well, it really is quite impressive,” Feathers said.

Lady Carey expressed her gratitude to the Episcopal Church in America, stressing their generosity through the years in worldwide Anglican Church missions.

She shared details of her own life, growing up in a working class household, training as a nurse and becoming the wife of a vicar and mother to four children.

“I really cannot imagine any other life for me than to be the wife of a vicar, or an ordained man. We never had a great deal of money, but we have had a wonderful life,” Lady Carey said with a smile.

The down-to-earth Englishwoman, who will celebrate her 70th birthday in November with 22 members of her extended family, cherishes memories of the many places the couple visited during the 11 1/2 years Lord Carey served as head of world-wide Anglican Church.

“We particularly came to love the people of Africa. They have such a strong faith, in spite of often great persecution,” she said.

And while the U.S. frequently gets bad press on the international scene, Lady Carey smiled warmly and assured all present the couple “truly loves Americans.”

She spoke of her hope the Episcopal in the U.S. will retain its strong ties to its mother church, The Church of England.

After a question-and-answer period, Feathers presented the honoree with a special gift created by Saint Thomas parishioner Frances Frakes.

“Good can come from bad. We lost a lot of shingles from our roof due to Hurricane Ivan. Well, one of our own took those old shingles and enriched us – literally and figuratively – with her artistic skills. Monies from their sale have helped us with outreach projects,” Feathers said, as she presented to Lady Carey one of Frakes’ trademark angel shingles, featuring a quote from St. Luke.