Headlines from First Thoughts

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving for a Churchman

On Saturday, Kelly, Parker, and I gathered in Owensboro, Kentucky, to pay tribute to her grandfather. We will miss him at Thanksgiving this year. He never met a meal he didn’t like and as he wiped the last crumbs from his mouth, he always said, “This is the best meal I ever had.” That kind of statement typified a life of giving and gratitude.

We said goodbye to a true churchman. He chaired every building committee, capital campaign, deacon council, search committee, and group at Far Hills Baptist in Kettering, Ohio. If I know anything about building chairmen and capital campaign chairmen, he was also the first to give his offering—sacrificially—so that others will be inspired to give. He made sure the family was in church and stayed on them to remain involved in church. He’s the only person I know that when he moved closer to his daughter’s family and joined First Baptist Owensboro, they made him a deacon and soon thereafter a deacon emeritus.

He was man enough to cry at the drop of a hat and give hugs to anyone who tried to date their way into the family. In Grandaddy’s mind, you didn’t have to earn your way into the clan.

He was an avid reader of this newsletter and quite a student of worship. He would show me the worship guide from his church, discuss our bulletin with me, and ask probing questions. He was genuinely interested, not in a critical way, but so that he could learn even more about his own life of faith.

When I was in high school, I was na├»ve enough to think that churches just happen. The formula was simple: get the WMU, the prayer room, the youth group, Sunday School, and the Choir moving in the same direction, and you’ve got a great church. But churches don’t just happen. People like Frank Parks happen to join the cause because they care so much about Jesus that they want their church to live like Christ.

Albert Schweitzer remarked, “The great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up.” Frank forgot more about church life than most people ever knew. And my guess is we’ll still be telling several more Frank stories for years to come—stories about meals, and church, and family. And it will be the best advice we’ve ever had.

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