My most famous ancestors are the Hanoverian Kings of England. George III was my great great great great grandfather. An exceptional king, if you discount his occasional fits of madness and the unfortunate tiff in which he lost the American colonies!
My family has a long history in the United States, England and Africa. George had an illegitimate son by one of his nurses, one Margaret Shelton, and palmed him off onto one of his Earls, Lord Talbot. In 1820, fed up with England, James Stuart Talbot migrated to South Africa. Some of his offspring then moved to America and became Mormons. For that reason I have an accurate genealogical chronology, since Mormons are keen genealogists. Others moved back to England.
Every man is his own ancestor, and every man his own heir. He devises his own future, and he inherits his own past. -H. F. Hedge
My father, the Rev. Peter Church, lived in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife, Suzanne, till he died in 2019. He met and married Suzanne after my mother died in 1997. Dad did evangelical missionary work all over Southern Africa. He was at one time employed by a missionary organization called The Navigators, which is headquartered in Colorado Springs. When I was a child we visited or lived in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Egypt and Mozambique.
Every year I teach in Europe, and sometimes the Far East. So I have grown up as a citizen of the world, making my home in the United States but feeling a kinship with human beings everywhere.
At my father’s funeral in 2019, I chatted with a man I’d never met before. He told me a fact about my father that I was completely unaware of.
Concerned about the huge high school dropout rate in Jacksonville, my father had started an initiative for members of nearby churches to mentor students. The man told me that over the previous decade, the project had grown. There were now 400 schools enrolled, mentoring thousands of students through graduation every year.