Archived Story

‘You’ve got to admire the timing’

Published 3:14pm Monday, September 2, 2013

Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc. took an unusual step recently.
After our building in Wetumpka flooded six times in the past year and a number of our employees faced major family health issues that were affecting the morale of our company, I made the decision to seek higher help.
I called the Rev. Rob Iler, rector of St. James Episcopal Church, and asked him if he would be willing to bless our company.
He agreed enthusiastically, saying he was ready to enter into spiritual battle.
I invited employees to come attend the service where the building and staff would be blessed.
Rob, who is the husband of Lake Magazine Editor Betsy Iler and a part of our company’s extended family, put on his collar and stole and held a service in our Wetumpka and Tallassee offices last Friday morning. He did the same thing Tuesday morning in our Alexander City office, using a service of occasional prayers from the Episcopal Prayer Book.
In our Wetumpka office, Rob explained to our employees that he believes that there is evil in the world – something anybody who reads newspapers already knows – and that blessing the company and those who work there wasn’t voodoo or magic. He said a blessing has meaning whether those involved are believers are not, and said, “I know there are many ways to Wal-Mart, but I know only one way.”
Then he began the service, saying, at different parts of the service, “Almighty and everlasting God, grant to this place the grace of your presence, that you may be known to be the inhabitant of this business and the defender of those who work here … Be present, we pray, with those who work in this place, that, laboring as workers together with you, they may share the joy of your creation; and give your blessing, to all who share in this place, that they may be knit together in fellowship and camaraderie here on earth … Many are they who rely upon their hands and their minds and are skillful in their own work. Prosper, O Lord, the work of our hands, prosper our handiwork.”
He lit a candle, filled a bowl with water and blessed it.
Then he asked me to hold the bowl as we went from room to room. In each room, he tipped a straw brush into the water and flung it with gusto at walls, computers, desks, doors and even staff members, saying, “Let the mighty power of the Holy God be present in this place to banish from it every unclean spirit, to cleanse it from every residue of evil, and to make it a secure place of labor for all those who perform their skills here; in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.”
Once the building was wetted down with Holy Water, Rob moved from person to person, making the sign of the cross on each person’s forehead with oil and offering a blessing for each person. I saw tears on several faces.
Then he blessed a hand-made cross, washing it with Holy Water, and hung it in our building.
Too often, I think faith and spiritual matters are absent from our daily work routine. I understand I went out on a limb by asking for the blessing – attendance was not mandatory for our staff people, but most did participate. And I’m certainly not trying to convert people to become Episcopalian. I’d welcome blessings for our company from any faith.
Feed back I personally heard ranged from “It was very powerful” to “It can’t hurt.”
Then yesterday I was driving through Wetumpka at around noon, when a torrential storm dumped water in such volume that cars stopped on the side of the road. I saw a gutter along the highway where the water flow was so strong it made a standing wave.
I called the Wetumpka office and asked if the building was flooding again, expecting the worst.
General manager Shannon Elliott said, “Not a drop.”
And I remembered a saying that the Rev. Dave Stoner, a former rector of St. James Episcopal Church, was fond of: “You don’t have to believe in miracles, but you’ve got to admire the timing.”
Boone is publisher of The Outlook.