The year 2021 has been a year of anniversaries and significant dates for me. In January, I turned seventy. In August, it was the 25th anniversary of my being ordained a priest (I had a previous combined two decades plus of ministry in the United Methodist Church and, later, in the Assemblies of God).
In September, there were four anniversaries: (1) the 25th anniversary of the founding of the church I serve, (2) the 25th anniversary of my father’s death, (3) the 25th anniversary as the Rector of Christ the King Church, and (4) our 50th wedding anniversary.
Now, in December, there is another anniversary — it was 25 years ago this month that I began writing a weekly opinion column for The Citizen newspaper [now The Citizen online].
One day, I visited the offices of The Citizen to place a church ad for Christmas Eve services. Cal Beverly, the publisher, saw me and came out to greet me. Knowing that I had authored articles for a couple of newspapers and numerous magazines, he asked if I would be interested in being a local columnist for the newspaper.
Assuming he meant a religion column, I said that I didn’t think so and explained my reasons. “How about writing an opinion column?” he asked. “About what?” I queried. “Your opinions on issues,” he naturally responded. I was intrigued. He suggested that I submit a couple of articles and see where it went.
Where it went is that I have now written 1,300 opinion articles — on all manner of subjects — for The Citizen.
Apparently, I have an opinion on nearly everything. However, there are some things I do not usually write about.
I do not write critically about the President of the United States, whoever it might be. That practice has won me criticism from both the Left and the Right. I tend not to write negatively about other religions or denominations, although I make no secret that I believe that Jesus “is the Way, the Truth, and the Life” and that He is the only way to God and eternal life. I do, however, write about certain issues about which I feel strongly, such as abortion, racism, incivility, bullies, and other topics.
Anyone who reads long enough will discern that I hold to conservative views on most topics, but not all. I am not a Democrat, although I used to be, as did my fathers before me.
I used to be a Republican, even serving as a county-level vice-president of the party until the dissension and in-fighting wore me out. I am an Independent politically and vote for those whose views are most aligned with my own. I do not presume to tell people how to vote and avoid political, but not moral or biblical, issues in my articles and from the pulpit.
I have a loyal following of people who oppose and find fault with everything I write, and I also have people who come up to me in a store, a restaurant or on the street and tell me that my article is the first thing they read in the paper. Frankly, I am always amazed that anybody reads anything I write so I am grateful for all, whether they agree with me or not.
If I have a style, and I am not sure I do, I suppose that I would be a storyteller. I write about the things that interest me and that which interests me the most is people. I have authored numerous articles about people that have impacted my life, or the lives of others and I have written about events—some large, some small.
I occasionally write articles that are religious, but most are not. Some are humorous, some satirical, some are meant to inform, and there are a few that have just been rants. A few are intended to persuade, or at least, to give another view. But always, it is an “opinion column.”
Sometimes people will ask, “How do you come up with something to write about week after week?” Well, it has been 1,300 weeks so I guess I have a great many opinions on about everything! One man saw me in a parking lot, approached me, and asked, “Are you that guy that writes for The Citizen?”
“I am,” I said.
He said, “You sure are opinionated!”
I replied, “Well, it’s an opinion column, so…”
But, yes, sometimes I get writer’s block. When that happens, I remember that “writers write,” and start tapping on the keyboard. Once, when I was totally blank, I typed, “I have absolutely nothing to write about.” That let to a column on dealing with writer’s block.
But mostly, I can always find something that is interesting, to me at least.” One just has to always be on the lookout. I estimate, in my pastoral career, I have presented some 7,800 sermons and teachings. Again, there is plenty there if one knows where to look.
So, thanks to Cal Beverly, those who read the paper and this column [now online only], and to all who have commented, responded, given opinions, criticism, correction, and all the rest. It is highly unlikely that I will write for another 25 years but I think I still have a few columns left and I hope you will stay with me on this journey.
May you have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and may God bless you all!
[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). During the pandemic, the church is open at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays but is also live streaming at www.ctk.life. He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.life) He may contacted at email@example.com.]