Crossing the Bridge: the life and works of The Reverend Paul Hoornstra

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9780979673207: Crossing the Bridge: the life and works of The Reverend Paul Hoornstra
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The life story of The Reverend Paul Hoornstra of Savannah, Georgia, illuminates the contemporary struggle of man s determination to serve his God. Throughout his long and eventful ministry, Paul wrestled with the challenges of his calling. The grace and strength that he showed in all aspects of his life, including how he dealt with the blindness and illnesses that circumscribed his last years, are a source of inspiration for all. Author Bryan Springthorpe has compiled research and information from letters, writings, sermons, interviews, newspaper accounts, and remembrances of family and friends to weave a detailed tapestry of a complex and much-loved man. For those who knew Father Hoomstra, this balanced tribute to a beloved man is a must read. For those who have yet to meet him, be prepared to meet a friend.

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About the Author:

Bryan Springthorpe was born in Derbyshire, England at the beginning of the nineteen thirties. He was educated throughout the second world war and the immediate post war years at Nottingham High, an English Public School founded on 1513. His career in retail sales and marketing commerce took him eventually to the United States where he still lives with his wife Mary Ann. They share four children and seven grandchildren, soon to be eight. He retired in 1997 and moved to Skidaway Island, near Savannah Georgia where he occupies himself with volunteerism, to as he puts it, repay some of the blessings that life has bestowed upon him. It was here that he met the blind priest, Father Paul Hoornstra, the subject of his biography. That chance meeting led to the inspiration for this book.

Review:

In Print: Biography reveals late Episcopal priest struggled with Christian paths to God By Dana Clark Felty In his final years, the Rev. Paul Hoornstra faced heart disease, cancer, blindness, Parkinson's disease and diabetes. Through it all, he never questioned his belief in God. "He only questioned which path to follow," said his former Tuesday lunch buddy, Bryan Springthorpe. Springthorpe's 361 page biography, "Crossing the Bridge: The Life and Works of the Reverend Paul Hoornstra," captures the events and struggles of the late Episcopalian priest. Springthorpe began work on the book shortly after Hoornstra's death in 2003 at age 83. "He was a fascinating guy and a great inspiration to me," Springthorpe said. Hoornstra moved to the Savannah area in 1975 to organize an Episcopal church, now St. Francis of the Islands. Following that, in the early 1980s, he accepted an offer to revitalize All Saints Episcopal Church on Tybee Island, described in a 1992 Savannah Morning News article as a "suffering little mission" with 11 members. Hoornstra led the parish in building a congregation. His work is memorials in the 12 stained glass windows he installed there. Hoornstra headed the Tybee congregation until 1990, when he accepted an offer from the bishop to start a congregation on Skidaway Island. Just days after his 70th birthday, Hoornstra began work on St. Peter's Episcopal Church. Originally, Springthorpe set out to chronicle the events of Hoornstra's life. In fact, many of his former parishioners will find themselves in the book. But as the project grew, the author uncovered in Hoornstra's notes the tensions in his young adulthood over his faith. His struggle with beliefs. Born to a Dutch-American family in Michigan, Hoornstra grew up under Depression-era struggles and a rigid form of fundamentalism found in his father's Free Methodist church. Hoornstra began exploring different paths to God as a teen. At 17 years old, he left home with $5 in his pocket and enrolled in Central Michigan University. He later completed Olivet Seminary in Kankakee, Ill., affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene. He was ordained in the church and led three congregations. But he eventually grew uncomfortable with the doctrine. "He very quickly found out it was the wrong faith for him," Springthorpe said. "He had completely different beliefs, and he struggled with that for a long time." After successfully leading three Nazarene churches, Hoornstra converted to the Episcopal Church and moved to Madison, Wis., where he served as rector of Grace Church. The conversion from Nazarene to Episcopalian proved a strain on his family life, including Elizabeth, who grew up Quaker. After 17 years in Madison, Hoornstra felt a new calling: to move to Savannah and launch new churches. The family followed, but so did tragedy, when his wife, Elizabeth succumbed to emphysema. Hoornstra remarried a year later, to long-time friend Mary-Nelson Campbell. Soon after, he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent chemotherapy. Other health problems followed, but Hoornstra continued to study, preach and counsel almost up until his death. Readers will find in the book much that they can relate too; joys, sorrows, triumphs, setbacks but throughout a picture of unfailing dedication coupled with serene optimism. All in all, a real inspiration. --SavannahNow.com

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