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Journeys of Discovery: Two Episcopal rectors share their passion for keeping their parishes relevant

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Ryan French (left image) Tom Wilmer
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Reverend Christopher Bowhay at St. John's Episcopal church, Ashwood, Tennessee (left); Reverend Sid Symington at his St. Peter's Episcopal parish in Morro Bay, California.

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits two distinctly different Episcopal parishes and finds both rectors sharing consistent philosophies predicated on compassion and engagement.

Christopher Bowhay is the Rector St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Columbia Tennessee. Bowhay’s church dates from 1860, but his parish also stewards the antebellum St. John’s Episcopal Church in nearby Ashwood, Maury County, Tennessee.

Wilmer met with Bowhay at the circa-1830s Antibellum St. John's church. During the Civil War, St. John’s served as a Confederate hospital and remains today as a historical site. Even though it ceased to function as an active parish in 1900, St. John’s still offers special services and events throughout the year.

Afterwards Wilmer visits with Sid Symington, the Rector at St. Peter’s by-the-sea Episcopal Church in Morro Bay, California, Wilmer’s hometown, to learn how Symington is stewarding and engaging his flock.

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Credit Ryan French
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St. John's Episcopal Church in Ashwood, Tennessee dates from 1839.

Tom Wilmer produces on-air content for Issues & Ideas airing over KCBX and is producer and host of the six-time Lowell Thomas award-winning NPR podcast Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. Recorded live on-location across America and around the world, the podcasts feature the arts, culture, music, nature, history, science, wine & spirits, brewpubs, and the culinary arts--everything from baseball to exploring South Pacific atolls to interviewing the real Santa Claus in the Arctic.
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