I could not go back to sleep. In the afternoon I joined the American delegation and gave them a guided tour of the old capital of Georgia. We went to Jvari Monastery, which proudly looks over the ancient city. On our way to the old capital I had a lengthy conversation with one of the leaders of the American delegation, Virginia Holmstrom. We agreed that next year she will bring a group of pilgrims to Georgia.
Then we went to the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and explored the cradle of Georgian Christianity. In the evening we went to Natarkhtari village where I usually go after a Saturday’s hiking. One of the ladies volunteered to learn Georgian toastmistressing. She mastered the toastmaster’s skills beautifully.
“I think she is a Georgian in disguise,” said somebody at the Table.
Next morning we had the eucharist at my private chapel. American and Georgian friends joined us at my home. Bishop Rusudan celebrated the eucharist for us. After the liturgy we had lengthy discussions with our American and Georgian friends about the life and politics of Georgia, and about the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia. The American guests were particularly interested in the ecclesiology of our Church, and the three-fold ministry of bishops, presbyters and deacons. Most of the Baptists in the world have either two-fold or single ministries.
It was lovely to sit at the open fire place with friends and colleagues and discuss the future. Soon I had to leave the guests and finish off packing. Ala and I left for England within an hour. On the plane I was thinking of what we had seen and heard in Georgia. During our visit Charles made an observation which I was particularly glad to hear. After having observed how our bishops interacted with others and with each other he said that he could not think of another situation where bishops worked so closely and harmoniously together. That made me extremely happy. I hope when I go back I can re-join our bishops and clergy and work together for justice, peace and reconciliation for all the peoples and faiths in Georgia.
Do you think I have written too much? You will be glad you know that I could have written three times as much but it would have been too cruel both to my editor, Bishop Michael Cleaves, and to you. I should also thank Kyrion for sponsoring my trip to Georgia.
Oxford, 28 January 2013