I remember hearing a story of Thomas Jefferson on his deathbed something similar to the following:
A local pastor came to Monticello wishing to speak to Jefferson about the afterlife and salvation. Jefferson knew this person and knew him to be a minister of the Gospel. Let’s say that his name was John Smith.
When Reverend Smith arrived, a person close to Jefferson (a slave?, his daughter?) came to Jefferson and said that Reverend Smith wished to see him. Jefferson supposedly replied something along the lines of “I would be happy to see my good friend, Mr. Smith” thereby implying that he would see John Smith ONLY in his capacity as a friend and fellow man and not in his capacity as a leader of the church.
My google-fu fails me. Did I mis-remember this story?
I am sure this may be true, but would point out that any pastor or parson would have been referred to as ‘Mr.’ Smith at that time, and subsequently, so it seems doubtful this meaning would have been manifest by such plain speaking.
Jefferson’s spirituality was actual, although not specifically christian — he did re-edit the Bible according to his preferences. Although possibly a deist, I doubt if his ego could realize any being greater than himself.
And being a slave and a daughter simultaneously was entirely possible in the Jefferson household.
My Google-fu is strong today
From “Jefferson’s Religion” by Stephen Vecchio
This sounds a lot like your incident, but the details are subtly and importantly different - the minister wasn’t there, and there’s a degree of ambiguity in what Jefferson’s words actually mean. The grandson, Randolph, interpreted it as you do - that he didn’t particularly want to see the minister as a minister, but only as a friend.