Baptist preacher, London Wingo, first introduced in The Gauntlet, returns to Linden, Missouri after a twenty year absence to face what is to be the greatest crisis in his ministerial and parental career.
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The Abernathy family lives in rural Mississippi where folks farm cotton and grow vegetables and kitchens are filled with smells of sweet potato pie, muscadine preserves, and pickled grapes. Cupboards bulge with Octagon soap wrappers collected to trade for dishes, and shelves are lined with homemade cures for everything ― sulphur, molasses,…
London and his wife, Kathie, had built a church in Linden, Missouri where they faced the trials and triumphs of a first ministry. When Kathie died, however, London accepted a position in Kansas City, and departed abruptly with his his baby daughter. London left Linden as a young widower ― stunned, helpless and alone ― but returns as man in his prime ― successful, passionate about his calling, and the loving father of a beloved, spirited daughter ― ready to leave the big leagues for the minors and address the sorrows he left behind.
London looks forward to the challenge of organizing a new church and to writing a biography of Roger Williams, a project he has been planning for years. But, most of all, he believes in the mystic properties of farms and small towns and hopes that his daughter, a free soul who doesn't quite fit anywhere, will discover a way to find herself.
London succeeds at first in quieting the dissident elements in his ministry by placing the critics in important positions in the church hierarchy. But Paige becomes interested in Vance Andrews who is engaged to the daughter of one of London's most powerful enemies and London fears trouble is ahead. As London faces this crisis, his faith is bulwarked by a woman who encourages and helps him with his parish problems ― Forrest Roberts, a woman of understanding and keen awareness; a woman who sparks the promise of new love.
The High Calling is a warm, moving novel which, through its insights into the career of a Baptist preacher, succeeds in many ways to do for the Protestant minister what The Cardinal did for the Catholic priest. Yet perhaps this exciting, dramatic sequel to The Gauntlet is most distinguished for its portrayal of London Wingo, who comes through as a very human, sympathetic character, more mature and wiser than in his younger days.