Monday, December 14, 2009

Remembering the Very Rev'd Craig Edward Young, SSC

The year was 1995 and it was late December. I was a middler (second year student) at Erskine Theological Seminary, under care of Catawba Presbytery of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and I wanted to procure a copy of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (I really can't remember why I had it fixed in my mind that that was superior to the 1979 version [something that is now a deep conviction after having studied and compared the two] but I had). I was spending quite a bit of time in Columbia and I knew that I had seen ads for a church over on Beltline that used the 1928 BCP and so one morning I went over to the Church of the Epiphany and upon entering the parish hall and introducing myself to the priest said that I was trying to acquire various worship manuals for my library and wondered if I could buy a 1928 Prayer Book from his parish. It was clear from our conversation that he didn't much approve of the term "worship manual" and wasn't wild about Presbyterians either (nor did he care for the mainline Episcopal Church). He did part with a Prayer Book for $5.

Almost ten years later I had taken to heart what I found in that Prayer Book and embarked upon the Anglican Way, having been received as a postulant for orders and later ordained deacon and priest in the Reformed Episcopal Church. The Rt. Rev'd Kieth J. Ackerman, SSC, then-Bishop of the Diocese of Quincy and a man whom I'd long admired, was to dedicate a chapel in Mayesville, South Carolina, and I had been invited to participate. Upon arrival I met the priest whom I'd encountered on that December morning and we renewed our acquaintance with considerably more pleasant results (that may or may not have been due in part to the mint juleps that we were enjoying at the reception that followed!). In the course of our conversation I mentioned that I'd heard that he had a source for cloth collars (as opposed to the plastic ones that I had worn up until that point); he paused for a second, said, "This should fit," and literally gave me the collar off of his neck (I was touched and have been wearing cloth ones ever since).

That priest was the Rev'd Canon Craig Young and it was my privilege to get to know him at meetings, worship services, and social events as well as to correspond with him via e-mail and to have him become my friend. In 2007 when his parish, the Anglican Church of the Epiphany, became the Pro-Cathedral for the Diocese of the Holy Cross and he became it's Dean, he invited me to the service and it was my honor to participate. He represented the Anglo-Catholic "face" of Anglicanism while I am more representative of the Protestant one, but we shared a commitment to Evangelical Faith, Catholic Truth, and Apostolic Order that transcended those distinctions. We were both members of Forward in Faith and over time our jurisdictions forged their bonds in the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas. He was fond of saying, "Fr. Collins is the most Catholic priest in the Reformed Episcopal Church;" while that may be disputable, I knew the spirit in which he intended it and I took it as a high compliment.

Craig was a force to be reckoned with, a man with deeply held and forthrightly expressed opinions with a wicked sense of humor. A mutual friend told me of taking him -- wearing his cassock -- into the Back Bar of the Carolina Yacht Club in Charleston after an event. When he entered some of the patrons, not really sure what to make of the sight, grew quiet as he approached the bar. When the bartender asked what he'd like, Craig responded, "I'd like a Scotch, and make it a double!" At that point the conversation was restored as the patrons figured out that this guy was alright.

This afternoon news came via email from the Rt. Rev'd Paul Hewitt, SSC, his good and godly bishop, that Fr. Craig Young died peacefully in his sleep last night. He will be missed by his family, his parish and diocese, and all who knew him. I thank God for the privilege of being one who knew him and counted him as a friend and fellow priest in the Church of God. R.I.P.

For a departed Priest

O God, who hast made thy servant Craig to flourish among the Ministers of Apostolic Succession in the honourable office of a Priest: grant, we beseech thee, that he may be joined with thine Apostles in a perpetual fellowship, Through thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen --From A Manual for Priests of the American Church, Complimentary to the Occasional Offices of the Book of Common Prayer, 5th edition.