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My dad was the Reverend John Harris Hatcher, Jr. When I think of my dad and his ministry, I am reminded of the following well-known words from St. Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Dad fought the good fight. He did it with love. He did it through service. He did it with intellect.
The eternal themes of redemption and reconciliation – and the ultimate triumph of love – coursed through Dad’s ministries and life. They were evident when he was a student at Virginia Theological Seminary, as curate at Bruton Parish in Williamsburg, Virginia, as Episcopal chaplain at St. Augustine’s Chapel on the campus of Vanderbilt University, and finally as rector of St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Reston, Virginia.
One of my great regrets is that I wasn’t with my Dad when he died. But I have the following to hold onto. On November 6th – two days before he died – he and I were talking on the phone about God. I said, you know Dad, for me, God is a verb…a state of being. After all, when Moses asks God for God’s name, God tells Moses that his name is Yahweh, I AM that I AM. Dad said he was really glad to hear me say that. I then reminded Dad that – as it was in so many things – I had learned it from him.
At 4 PM, on Tuesday – November 7th, 2017 – I had what would be my last conversation with my dad. It was a brief call. In hindsight, it was far too brief. But we ended the call the way we always did – the way many of you do with your loved ones – I said, “I love you, Dad.” He said, “I love you, too.” The next day, I got the call that my dad had died.
My dad taught me a lot in life. But he’s taught me something in death as well. That death is only final if we don’t love one another…if we cease to care for one another. Thank you, Dad for your ministry and your love. I miss you and love you always