In March 2011, Dave went to see the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Pope, His Holiness, Abba Paulos I.
“I never met a pope of any faith group or denomination,” Dave said.
Incense burned in the entrance to the Papal audience room. Dave’s escorts crawled to the presence of the Pope to kiss his ring before they could stand. “This showed the enormous respect the people had for this Ethiopian Church,” he said.
After hearing Dave was a Presbyterian minister, the Pope talked about his time at Princeton Theological Seminary.
“He thinks of the U.S. as his second home because when he was having his ‘troubles,’ the Presbyterian Church (USA) took him in and gave him a scholarship to Princeton,” Dave said.
His “troubles” were not unusual for a clergy member in a non-Western countries. He advocated peace, justice and caring for all people. The Ethiopian government in the early 1970s did not agree with him and kicked him out of the country.
Dave made two Presbyterian connections that day. The General Secretary of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church had a plaque on his wall from the Presbyterian Church (USA).
“The Presbyterian churches have been mission oriented. I’ve heard my whole life about missionaries and missions in the whole world. Africa, and especially these two meetings brought the stories I’ve heard into reality,” Dave said.
Doors opened, conversations flourished, and the generations of missionaries left their positive mark.
Up next: Father Paddy and Father Dennis