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Preacher on the Go

Tiny Smith Island has three churches but only one pastor, who gets around by boat and Golf Cart

“I’ll tell you, I don’t worry about the erosion too much,” Pal Bradshaw says. He is a big man, with a quick smile beneath a salt-and-pepper mustache. He points out a window, across the creek toward a thin strip of marsh, beyond which the open Chesapeake rolls to the horizon. When it goes? “Won’t be nothing between us and the Bay,” he says, matter-of-factly. “But if you ain’t got young people and you ain’t got crabs, then the island’s gone anyways.”

One body, many parts.

Earlier, on the ride over to Rhodes Point in the golf cart, Edmund had stomped on the brakes, pulled off the road and photographed a heron. He told me that sometimes at night, on his walks around town, he passes the Ewell church and stops for a moment, thinking about his favorite stained-glass window there. It pictures a large fortress clinging to a spire of rock. Massive waves thunder into the cliffs, and foam nearly reaches the stronghold. “It’s called ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,’” he said, “and I think, ‘Wow...that’s Smith Island.’” Then he steered the golf cart back on the road, heading, as always, for high ground.

by T. Edward Nickens

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