11 years ago my wife and I were struggling with many things. I had been laid off from my job and I was experiencing a variety of health issues related to the stress of being unemployed. No excuses though, I was raised to provide for myself, so I went to the local mall to apply for a number of jobs. One of those interviews was very providential indeed. The manager of the store and I sat for about two or three hours and discussed everything, life, movies, religion, our significant others (my wife, her fiancee). We became fast friends and she now tells people that I am her big brother (the irony there is that she is a tad older than I am). Needless to say I went to work for her.
Over the course of my year there she would repeatedly invite me to her church for their Sunday service. Not being much of a church type, or Christian for that matter, I would say something like “sure,” and the explain that my wife was raised as a Roman Catholic and she wanted something a bit more formal than the church my boss attended. Regardless of my answer she would continue to invite me, with a cheerful smile and a calm understanding.
Sometime early in the year 1999 things were particularly difficult for my wife and I and I had a serious health episode. When I woke up I told my wife we were going to go to that church the very next Sunday. We walked in the door and stuck, thank God.
The Pastor and Steward of that Church was a man named Edwin Powers Elliott Jr. A truer example of a Christian man does not exist. Edwin went home to be with the Lord today. I feel as though I have lost my own father.
From day one in his Church Pastor Elliott made us feel welcome. He went out of his way to make sure we learned at our own pace. As the Spirit of the Lord grew in my wife and I, Edwin was there with answers to questions and an understanding of Scripture that comes only from a true and faithful love of the Gospel and our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the birth of each one of my children he was at the hospital before I could even reach the phone to call him. He baptized each one of my children and did his best to treat them as if they were prospective adults, admonishing each one to do their best and being genuinely proud at their individual achievements.
In 2004 when a number of things began to fall apart in our lives Edwin was there for support. He stood by us and through the strength given by the Holy Spirit he helped us to stand. As my father’s Parkinson’s began to play a good bit of catch up again Edwin was there, often arriving at the hospital even before I could get there. Not only did he give comfort to me, but he would stay and chat with my father who struggled greatly with his affliction. Through Edwin’s patience and teaching my father has begun to understand the tribulations of this life.
Edwin introduced me to the beautiful biblical meaning of freemasonry. He signed my petition. He raised me. He was instrumental and a key piece in founding Patrick Henry Loyal Orange Lodge #1105, a protestant organization promoting Christian fraternalism. He was the longtime editor of the Christian Observer, the oldest continual Christian news publication in the United States.
He held so many official offices in the various York Right organizations within freemasonry that his coat could scarcely hold the medals and awards. He was awarded the highest award that a Royal Arch Mason can be awarded, the John Dove award for Excellence in Royal Arch Masonry.
He was a member of Hanover Presbytery and of the Calvin Synod. I think at the time he was admitted to Calvin Synod he was the only non-Hungarian member of the Synod.
Edwin was also a publisher. He and his brother published so many books on such a variety of subjects that it would be difficult to count them all.
Most importantly he was our Pastor and teacher. For those of you who read this you may doubt my words, but with God as my witness I will say that Edwin made time for each member of his flock. He met on a weekly basis with a number of men in his church, I know I was one of those he met with. On occasions, in order to get something to him, I would inadvertently walk in on one of his meetings with someone else.
An amazing thing about this man is that he suffered from a number of health problems that would task him greatly, yet he was always selfless in his support of others. He suffered from a form of diabetes that did its best to hold him down, but it didn’t. The night before he suffered his heart attack I was with him at a meeting. He did something for me that he probably shouldn’t have done and I shouldn’t have asked him to do.
Through all of these things Edwin was supremely confident in the gift of Grace offered to us by the Lord through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Edwin would often talk about the day he would get to go and be with the Lord and to meet with all of those who had gone before. He would tell us of the people he wanted to see and questions he wanted to ask them. Today he is there, praise God. He will be sorely missed by many, many people, but he is where he longed to go.