My Father – Theodore Spencer Church


Ted Church with his mother, Peggy Pond Church

My father was a man of remarkable self determination and quiet courage. He grew up one of three sons of Fermor Spencer Church, a School Master at Los Alamos Ranch School, and grandson of Ashley Pond, the founder. Living on the Ranch School, high on the Pajarito Plateau, helped him gain a love for the outdoors and a disciplined approach to life.

He was introduced to my mother, an artist involved with the Taos Art Colony, by his mother, Peggy Pond Church. Ted became so unendingly delighted by his wife Elizabeth, that he often spoke of feeling her presence with him after her death. His love for my mother showed in his support of her art, which grew into support for mine, and then for his granddaughter Rachel’s. In his final week he spoke of his goal to remain alive long enough to celebrate Rachel’s graduation from MICA art college.

I grew up going to Meeting on most Sunday mornings, but dad’s Quaker journey didn’t exist only on Sundays. I would often find him in his study, “doing the books” for Friends Meeting, as he was the Treasurer for many years. His help with the Meeting grew into help with InterMountain Yearly Meeting, American Friends Service Committee, and Friends World Committee for Consultation. Through his involvement I had the privilege of meeting and learning from Elfrida Vipont Foulds, Margaret Gibbons, James Drummond, and attending International Quakerschool Beverweerd and the International Quaker Youth Pilgrimage. These people and places dad gave me access to provided me with cherished life-long spiritual, and educational gifts.

Dad’s quiet love gave me the privilege of knowing that he supported me, not just my best efforts. In dying as in living, the light of his courageous determination to follow what he thought best shone brightly. One of his final gifts to me in life was his insistence that I stay away from New Mexico as his life ebbed away, because he knew the dry air would hurt my eyes. I learned from him that quiet duty speaks love eloquently.

“Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit from thy own thoughts, and then thou wilt feel the principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord God, whereby thou wilt receive his strength and power from whence life comes, to allay all tempests against blusterings and storms. That is it which moulds up into patience, into innocency, into soberness, into stillness, into stayedness, into quietness, up to God, with his power.”
George Fox, 1658

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