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November 17, 2004

Presbyterian memories

The local Presbyterian Church, where our family worships, has been without a fulltime pastor since the departure last year of the Rev. Tim Boggess, in response to a call from a church in Georgia. Things could be worse, however. The local church was fortunate in one respect: The Rev. Ron Weathers retired from the United Methodist ministry at about the same time as Tim's exit, and Ron has provided meaningful sermons for many Sundays, moving over from the Methodist Church just across the street from the Presbyterian sanctuary. I don't know if we can convert him, but he is doing an outstanding job of filling the pulpit nearly every Sunday. Meantime, the search goes on for the pastor we know is out there, somewhere.

Reflecting on all this, however, has brought back a lot of bittersweet memories about my connection with the Perry Presbyterian Church. We've been friends for a long time. Our church has had 22 pastors since 1893, ranging from the Rev. Simon Peter Myers to the Rev. Tim Boggess. The next one will be Number 23. Rev. David Thomas had the longest tenure, from 1919 to 1946, when he retired. A few of us still remember the Rev. Thomas. He was a memorable man, as was his entire family. They are all deceased now, but they live on in the memory of many people. I was fortunate enough to know all of them quite well because they were not only Presbyterians, but also our across-the-street neighbors. Our house was diagonally across Eighth and Elm from the Church. We lived at 501 Eighth Street, where the High School Parking Lot is now located.

As faithful Presbyterians, we were present each Sunday for Church School, morning worship, evening service and youth fellowship. All of us proudly wore perfect attendance pins, and I still have mine in a box somewhere. As pre-schoolers, my two sisters and I attended Mrs. Crawford's Kindergarten Church each Sunday morning in the church basement. We learned many things there, besides cutting out Bible figures from the material Mrs. Crawford brought in an old suitcase that her husband dutifully hauled down the basement steps to our meeting room each Sunday.

More of these childhood Presbyterian memories when next we meet in this same place.