Letter from the Rector RE the Rev. David Dingwall

November 27, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

By now you have no doubt heard the tragic news of the fire yesterday morning at one of our sister churches in the Diocese, St. Paul’s by the Sea, and the fact that as of this writing it has claimed two lives and a third person is undergoing treatments for burns.  One of those who succumbed to his injuries was the Rector of St. Paul’s by the Sea and a familiar friend to many at St. Peter’s, the Rev. David Dingwall.

When David first came to the Eastern Shore with his wife Brenda and their sons Nick, Alex and Ian, they made their home at St. Peter’s, where many of us got to know them well.  I recall getting to know them before I went off to seminary, my daughters attended youth events and groups with the older sons, and we had many conversations and meals together.  While at St. Peter’s, David Dingwall was serving as an Interim Rector at Christ Church Denton until he was called to be the Rector of St. Paul’s by the Sea.

So many of us at St. Peter’s have ties to Father David and to his family, which makes news of his death very hard.  He has been such a good leader and pastor of the congregation at St. Paul’s, and with his urging St. Paul’s outreach efforts to minister to the homeless, the hungry and the needy have grown exponentially.  What a tragedy that his beloved Shepherds Crook program was in the midst of serving people when the fire struck.

I have been told that Bishop Shand who was at David’s bedside when he died, has let the Wardens of St. Paul’s by the Sea know that he will be in Ocean City on Sunday to lead that congregation in worship.  As Jesus himself said in our gospel lesson a couple of weeks ago, the church will endure sufferings and calamities, but God will never abandon us.  Life in that congregation will continue.  Their worship on Sunday will be a sign of that perseverance and love for one another, and God will be in the midst of them.

So what do we do now?

At the Noon Holy Eucharist today at St. Peter’s I led the congregation in healing prayers for the Dingwalls, St. Paul’s by the Sea parish, the victims of the fire and the many in that community that have been touched by David and the church.  I ask that we at St. Peter’s continue to pray for Our Lord’s healing presence both in St. Paul’s by the Sea’s faith community,  ith David’s family, and all who are affected by this tragedy.

Also, share stories with one another about David and the wonderful person he was.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and was often encouraging us to smile.  Sharing a laugh or a happy moment would be a wonderful testament to him.

And then be on the lookout for the announcement about Fr. David’s funeral – it will probably be held early next week, but details are still being worked out.   This is our opportunity to come together in our grief, to show support for his family and his church family, to console one another, and to celebrate David’s new life with our Lord.  If there are those who would like to attend the funeral but need transportation, I hope we can make those needs known on Sunday so that we can see that everyone from St. Peter’s that wants to attend can do so.

I have let the Diocese and clergy know that St. Peter’s stands ready to help in any way.

We believe as Christians that in death life is changed not ended.  Our brother David is now in the loving arms of our Lord, sharing with him in joy eternal life.

I understand that this is a difficult time, especially for those like my family and myself who have known David for many years, or who have ties to St. Paul’s by the Sea.  Let us walk through this time together as brothers and sisters in Christ.  Know that I am praying for peace to come into troubled hearts.  May you in your grief be comforted through the mercies and peace of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Yours in the Risen Christ,