The trial

Father David Epps's picture

I was put on trial last week. I didn’t even know that I had committed an offense but there I was facing a judge with a prosecutor and defender on either side of me.

In July, I attended the monthly meeting of the Marine Corps League in Peachtree City. In the room where the meeting is held, a table is set at the center. On the table, called an “altar,” is a Bible that is to be opened when the meeting begins and closed when the meeting ends. As the chaplain, it is my responsibility to bring the Bible.

The day following the meeting, I received an email from the Commandant stating, “I have in my possession a large brown Bible that, it is said, formerly belonged to a Bishop.”

“Crud,” I thought, “I left my Bible at the Marine Corps League meeting.” I made arrangements to go by his house and pick up my Bible.

As he handed it to me, he said, “You know that you will be on trial for this.”

“What?” I asked.

“Yep, it’s a terrible offense for a minister to leave his Bible behind.”

The next month when I attended the August meeting, there it was on the agenda: The Trial of Father David Epps, Chaplain. At the appointed time, the Commandant read the allegation that I was charged with leaving vital equipment behind, dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming a chaplain, and a host of other trumped up charges. I pled, “Not guilty due to diminished capacity.”

The prosecutor made the point that any Marine rifleman who left his weapon behind would not only endanger his own life but the lives of others and even the success of the mission. He painted the picture of a Marine who left his rifle behind as someone who was incompetent, uncaring, and unreliable. Then, naturally, he made the same comparison to a “man of God who would leave his Bible behind.”

Then it was time for the defense to speak. My court-appointed “attorney” stood and said, “Well, your honor, after what I’ve heard, I can only say, ‘He’s guilty as #$@&!”

There it was! My entire defense was over. The Judge said, “I find you guilty of all charges and hereby fine you $8.” After further consideration and pleas for mercy by the defense, the fine was reduced to $2.

Thus, I became the first member of the Clyde Thomason Detachment 1325 of the Marine Corps League to be put on trial. History was made, the Detachment got two bucks richer, and I will not forget my Bible again.

The next Sunday I noticed at church there were a number of Bibles left in the seats or on the floors after the services. Most belonged to lay people but a few were left by members of the clergy.

We are always looking to increase our income. Maybe it’s time for a few trials at church. We have a new fellowship hall that needs to paid for. We always have various needs that requires funds.

We don’t do “indulgences,” but a few trials — that’s another story! The outcome of the trial will be predetermined of course, as was mine. Otherwise, where’s the fun?

[David Epps is the pastor of Christ the King Church, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277, between Peachtree City and Newnan. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. He also serves as the bishop to the Mid-South Diocese and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Church in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at The Marine Corps League meets the first Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at the Gathering Place in Peachtree City.]

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