John Holloway was a pastor to me, one of two men in my life who completely fulfilled that role. I first met him in 1995 when, after he called me on the telephone in response to an inquiry I made, we met for lunch in Griffin, Ga.
He and I shared some common ground. We had both served as United Methodist pastors, both had been influenced by the charismatic movement, were both married to strong, capable women, and both had three sons — although he would add a daughter some years later.
In 1996, I became a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church and helped to found a church, making another thing we had in common, as he was the founding pastor of St. Michael’s Church in Thomaston, Ga. In 1997, Father John became Bishop John and became both my boss and my pastor. He also became my very good friend.
He appointed me to serve on the Bishop’s Council and installed me as his Canon to the Ordinary (sort of a right hand man to the bishop).
We traveled some together and spent three weeks in Africa together. There, he ordained men in Kenya and Uganda to the ministry and confirmed scores of believers, and I became the unofficial photographer of the trip.
Over the years, he said to me on numerous occasions that I would be a bishop someday. At first that was flattering and exciting, but as I saw the difficulties and stresses that bishops endured, I decided that it was not for me and told him so. I was happy being a lowly parish priest and had no desire or willingness to be a bishop. He said it didn’t matter if I was willing or not. Someday it would happen.
When my mother passed away on a Monday, I received a phone call from Bishop John the next day. He said that he wanted to have coffee with me that evening.
I explained that I was in Kingsport, Tenn., and that I would not be returning until the weekend. He said that he was also in Kingsport. He had driven the 15-hour round trip for no other reason than to be with me in my loss. Something like that buys a great deal of loyalty and affection.
In June 2007, following a Friday night worship service, Bishop Holloway suffered a massive, debilitating stroke. He was 53 years old. In November of that year, in a worship service I never wanted to happen, his prophetic words came true — I was consecrated as a bishop and, the following year, would officially replace him as the bishop of the diocese.
For the last six years and eight months, he and his family have struggled and suffered mightily. For a long time, the clergy of St. Michael’s Church took him Holy Communion every day.
About two years ago, duties were shared and both clergy and Licensed Liturgical Ministers (LLM) from five churches took Communion to him and his family almost every Sunday.
Last Saturday morning, Feb. 22, John William Holloway, age 59, became “absent from the body and present with the Lord.” I had visited with him Friday morning and it was obvious that his hours were numbered. Friday afternoon, Dawn McCook, an LLM, brought him Holy Communion for the last time.
Today, Saturday, March 1, 2014, at 11 a.m., bishops from across the country and clergy and laity from a wide area will gather, with his family, at my church — a church he visited and ministered at a number of times — for a memorial service.
John Holloway was a bishop, a priest, a pastor, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great teacher, a total extrovert, a visionary, and a man of faith. He was also a great intercessor and I imagine that he is fulfilling that role now in a far greater manner than even he thought was possible. He was also my friend and my pastor.
Those who knew him have surmised that he is now laughing in that distinctive way that was unique to him, is running with wild abandon all over heaven, and is finally whole, healthy, and complete.
We love you, John. We miss you. Save us a place at the Table.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at email@example.com.]