R. Marion Canfield, R.I.P.
In the spring of 1994 I was a senior in college who had just come under care of Catwaba Presbytery of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and was preparing to enter Erskine Theological Seminary in the fall. I was also then serving as a platoon leader in Detachment 1, Troop B, 202d Cavalry, which was in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Learning of what was then known as the Hardeeville Presbyterian Church nearby I stopped by the minister's house one Sunday afternoon and introduced myself to the Rev'd Marion Canfield, who was serving as the mission developer for that small work. It was officially a mission -- a new church being planted by the presbytery -- and being rather off the beaten path from the rest of their congregations Marion appreciated the visit and the interaction. We sat on some chairs on his back lawn and had a very pleasant visit getting to know each other and discussing the trials of ministry and how God's Providence had brought us to our respective stages of out lives.
During the years that I was under care of and later licensed by Catawba Presbytery, I always enjoyed seeing Marion at presbytery meetings and other gatherings. He was a gentle soul and an encourager -- I remember the day I was licensed and, having to preach from a manuscript (something I don't usually do) preached roughly a twelve minute sermon he told me that no presbytery in the world would reject a candidate who preached that brief a sermon --who used his love for photography and knowledge of cameras to supplement the modest income that the church was able to pay him. His love for his people was evident. Sometime in the late 90s the congregation was organized as a churchand renamed the First Presbyterian Church of Hardeeville, but it remained small and he remained its pastor. After I moved to the Reformed Episcopal Church and Anglicanism, I saw less of Marion, although I did stop by Hardeeville one evening in 2005 and enjoyed my visit with him.
Early this morning I learned of Marion's death yesterday. He was still serving as the Minister of First Church. I give thanks for his friendship, his example of steady shepherding and love for his flock and for Christ's Church. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.