“What are you talking about?” asked the parson.
“I'm talking about that plate. Good gracious, Parson, you sopped that plate, I guess with the toast, so much it looks clean. I'd have been glad to bring you some more.”
“How do you know I didn't wash it?”
“Right,” she smiled, picking up the plate and swirling on her heel.
The parson looked back at his Kindle and his morning reading. He didn't get to read much.
“Well, well, look who's still kicking,” proclaimed the voice.
The parson looked up to see Frank Overtop, looking down at him. Frank was the senior pastor of the Church of the Set Aside As A Light to Those Below. The church was a congregation in the parson's denomination, but the parson had heard that one would be hard pressed to recognize that.
“Frank,” the parson responded. “What brings you to the neighborhood?”
“Just stopping to get a bite to eat, Parson. I'm headed up to a meeting in Nashville.”
“It's good to see you,” said the parson. “How's Ellen and the kids?”
“Everyone's doing great, Parson, just great. I won't tell you how great because you'd then start bragging about your grandchildren.”
“Dizzy Dean said if it's true it's not bragging, Frank.”
“Okay, point taken.”
Frank sat down at the parson's table. Betty approached, poured him some coffee and took his order.
The parson and Frank began to swap stories, catch up on each other's knowledge of mutual friends, and, as was always the case with the two of them, began to debate the needs and the realities of their denomination.
“You know as well as I do,” said Frank, “the larger churches are the driving force of this church. You've been the pastor of a large church; there's no way to deny it.”
“Oh, I can deny it, Frank. I can deny it with relish. Tell me Frank, how many members do you have?”
“We reported 2300 at the end of the last year.”
“Holy Moley, Frank, I've lived in towns with less population that that. So, now tell me, how much money did your church give to providing housing and rehabilitation programs for the homeless last year?”
“I don't know the answer to that off the cuff, Parson?”
“Okay, how much did you give to missions, national and international?”
Betty walked up and placed Frank's breakfast before him. She looked over at the parson with a wrinkled brow. “Everything okay here?” she asked.
“Of course, everything is okay, Betty.”
Betty leaned down, “Well, how was I to know. Your voice is getting a little loud, Parson.” She walked away.
Frank was smiling. The parson leaned over the table toward Frank. “Okay, Frank, I apologize if I was a bit insistent. Look, how about you do this. When you get back home, you email me the exact number of members you have and I'll email you the exact number of members I have. Then we'll exchange the amount of support each of our churches gave to any cause you pick that's common to churches of our denomination. We'll then divide the amount given by the number of members to discover what the per member contribution is. And when we do that we'll continue this discussion about which of our churches is the driving force of this denomination.”