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Bethesda says goodbye to Father Parke Jan 8 2012

How appropriate.

The Reverend Canon Thomas T Parke, rector of Bethesda Episcopal Church loves music and music has always had an important role at the church.

Now, as Father Parke concludes his 44 years of service to Bethesda and its community of worshippers, his final service at Bethesda would be Choral Evensong.

The Very Reverend Marshall J Vang, interim rector at Bethesda, acted as Celebrant and Officiant while Father Parke had the unaccustomed role of by-stander as Father Vang in his sermon extolled the serviee of Father Parke to Bethesda and its community of worshippers.

Father Vang also remembered days at General Theological Seminary in New York City which he had attended with Father Parke.

When the service ended, Father Parke and Vang left the procession to wait at the entrance to thank those who had attended the service.

It was a time of hugs and tears.

The family and friends of Bethesda gathered at the Holiday Inn after the Evensong to reminisce.

Parents who had watched as Father Parke brought their child from the baptismal font to the front of the church to introduce the child to the congregation now watched as Father Parke brought that child's child to the front of the church to meet the Bethesda family.

Mary Eddy at 97 was there and with her walker managing the buffet line just fine. She might have seen John Hendrickson in the buffet line, too, making selections for Mary Lou.

The tables were full as more than 200 raised glasses to toast Father Tom for his 44 years of dedication to the Bethesda community.

One pleasant moment was the reading of note from David Hyde Pierce expressing regrets at not being there and telling what Bethesda and Father Parke had meant to him.