I have known The Rev. K. Brewster Hastings for many years. He was an Anglican Christian priest, the rector of Saint Anne’s Church in Abington, PA, and my pastor for the several years I spent as a parishioner there. Tragically, after heart surgery to repair a heart valve, he passed away suddenly (see here) aged only 55.
Fr. Hastings was more that just my priest. He was a novelist (see here). He did my premarital counseling. He preached the homily at my wedding. We worked together on the Templeton Committee. He was my friend. We shared a similar sense of humor, love for serving the church, bookish interests in theology and philosophy, and a fashion sense that would fit in well in English academia. We were allies fighting the good fight to preserve, protect, and advance traditional Anglicanism.
Although Fr. Hastings was my pastor and friend, he was even more than that. I met Fr. Hastings as I was entering into adulthood and in the process of maturing my Christian faith accordingly. God placed Fr. Hastings into my life at just the right moment. Fr. Hastings understood me. He could speak “my language.” He was the perfect person for me who could speak God’s Word into my life in a way I could hear and accept at a time when I needed it. I tend to intellectualize everything, including my faith, and while Fr. Hastings could meet me there, he also had a faith that was much deeper than simply intellectualized faith. It was in this way Fr. Hastings could help me progress. He could relate to intellectualizing faith, but also to moving it to the next level.
One of the areas of ministry Fr. Hastings focused upon was healing. One of his gifts was his way of penetrating someone’s problems and drawing God out from them. When I told him about my struggles – whether that was emotional struggles or struggles with friends and family or with my career or marriage or what have you – he could meet me there. Not just meet me there, but able to fully invest himself and go with me, into the depths, and validate the struggles and being a conduit of God’s grace and mercy. Fr. Hastings was loving, but that love was not simply soft and Milquetoast. He could be stern and offer discipline or correction when needed, but it never seemed like a punishment.
Fr. Hastings’ prayers were powerful. His faith was deep and penetrating. He looked, of course, to the Bible, but also to the lives of the Saints through the centuries. He always could find wisdom from the teaching of the Church to apply to one’s life. Through his ministry, Fr. Hastings was instrumental in taking my faith to much deeper and more profound place. He helped me learn to pray. He helped me learn how to read the Bible more effectively. He helped me understand that praying and theology and liturgy were more than just doing something spiritual and/or asking for things and/or knowing things.
One recent event sticks out for me. Although I have not been a member of St. Anne’s for a number of years, I could still call Fr. Hastings when I needed him. Two summers ago, for various reasons, I was experiencing a dark night of the soul as never before. I sat on my deck at 9:00pm in the middle of the summer and called him and, as he always did, he spoke to me about whatever it was I needed to discuss. For over an hour we spoke, prayed, and cried, and he helped me through it and, because he was a great pastor, was sure to follow up with me. I will be forever thankful for him that night.
So, it is with a heavy heart that I say good bye to you Fr. Hastings, my good Father in God. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your teaching. Thank you for helping me learn to pray and read the Bible and worship. Thank you for helping take my faith from just knowing and doing and believing to a faith that is much deeper, profound, visceral, exposed, and vulnerable. You have helped me know God in new and deeper ways. You have forever changed my life. I thank God for you and your blessing on my life is incalculable. May God bless you, have mercy on you, have grace upon you, and usher you into your greater glory and heavenly reward due to, and found only in, God’s presence.
Requiesce in pace