|A Macro Bio
back to PART IIWe, arrived in Bullard,Texas on a Friday, prior to the second Sunday. That Sunday, when all new Pastors were to preach their first sermon in their new Charge. As we pulled up in the driveway of the parsonage, we were greeted by some of the members of the Church. The parsonage was located on a lot back of the Church. It was a fairly new parsonage, three bedrooms, a good size living room, kitchen and one bath. It was about two or three years old, in very good condition. Everybody introduced themselves and we all went into the parsonage. It had been redone and redecorated; the walls had been repainted. It was evident that some new pieces of furniture had been added. It had a very large backyard. All in all, it was very nice. I do believe, Babs was also pleased, it sure was larger than the apartment we had in Houston.
The Church itself was small. It had a brick exterior with beautiful stained glass windows. The sanctuary had an aisle in the middle that separated the pews, and a chancel area that was arranged in a "mix and match" fashion. The pulpit was way over to one side. The organ (spinet type) and a piano, were side by side. The Communion Table and the Baptismal Fount were on the opposite side of the Chancel area from the Pulpit.
Also, there were about twelve chairs in the midst of all this, along with some old hymn books and other miscellaneous odds and ends stacked on a small table back in the corner of the Chancel area. It all look like it had just sprouted, taken root and grown there over the years. Similar to a garage that grows and collects things, never to be thrown out. And eventually the car is evicted and has to live outside.
Well, being a new Pastor, what did I know, I set about rearranging things to give some appearance of order and symmetry. After about three hours of work, I had the Communion Table down below, centered in front of the Chancel Area with the Pulpit centered behind the Communion Table. The choir chairs were split in back of the pulpit. The organ and the piano were separated, organ to the right, piano to the left. The Baptismal Fount and the Pastors' Pulpit chair were to the right, near the side steps, leading up to the Chancel area, near the door leading to the Pastor's study. I cleaned out all the old stacked up literature, the ragged hymnals and miscellaneous hodgepodge. It looked like a different Sanctuary.
Meanwhile, Babs was busy unpacking, putting things away, getting the house in order. Making a home instead of a house. I took my books and some other things over to the office. After moving some things out of the office that were not needed, the office began to take shape. Come Sunday, everything was ship shape. I had even printed the Bulletins for Sunday, using an old cylinder Mimeograph machine. Affectionately called a "Holy Roller".
Come Saturday morning, I walked the town, it took about five minutes to do the Downtown area. The Township in about a half-hour. Of course it was evident that the people around town knew who I was, even though I didn't know who they were. I stopped in all three Stores and the Filling Station and oh, yes, the Post Office. The Postmaster, said; "you must be the new Methodist "Preacher", (that's what they do say!) Saw you drive in Friday. Got any kids?" "Afraid not." I replied. "Didn't think so, couldn't see any in the car, unless they were asleep." "Born in Texas, were you?" "No, in Indiana." "A Yankee, huh." "Yelp" (that is Texan, for "yes.") After I had finished filling out a new address form, so our mail from Houston would be forwarded, I said "good-bye, see you around". And then I "moseyed" (that's another one of them there Texan words) on down the street.
"Oh, Happy Day", Sunday! here it was, ready or not. Babs and I put on our best "Bib an Tucker" and to Church we went. We got there about fifteen minutes before the 11 o-clock, starting time, the Church was almost full. All had come to see the new "Preacher" and his wife. The Town had been buzzing, about the Preacher and his young bride;" (Had you heard, this is his second wife. He's divorced, you know?")
Babs seated herself, near the front I am sure she felt like "a fish in a Fish Bowl". I quickly told the Organist and the Piano Pldayer, that I would announce all the Hymns as listed in the Program, to the Congregation throughout the Service. Since it varied from what they had been used too. I stepped behind the Pulpit and said; "Good morning, welcome to First Methodist Church. "The Lord is in His Holy Church, let us bow down and worship Him". The first Hymn of the morning, is "Holy, Holy Holy, Merciful and Mighty".Let us please stand". After the first Hymn and a brief prayer, I stepped down out of the Chancel area and asked Babs to join me. After introducing my wife, I offered the usual amenities about, "to know you. "Getting to know all about you." Then, I announced the Sermon for the Evening Service "Will The Real Lee and Babs Stand Up". There will even be a "Question and Answer" period, afterwards". That caused a whisper or two. The rest of the Service went quickly, we were out by 'Twelve' sharp. Either before or after the sermon, I commented that; "I don't mind if you look at your watches. It is only when you shake them to see if they are still running." When the service was over. Babs and I stood by the door to shake hands. As the last one passed by I said to myself, some of these I will never see again until, come Christmas.
After Church, we were invited for Sunday dinner. Mr. Owen was the Chairman of the Board. During the dinner, we exchanged the usual pleasantries, then Mr. Owen said; "The Church looked sort of different this morning, didn't it, dear?. We were a little bit surprised!" After a long pause, Mrs. Owens said; "You know dear, I like the way it looked." I could have kissed that women, right then and there. "I agree, it did look good", Mr. Owen replied. I breathed a long sigh of relief.
Like most Ministers, I could probably write a book about my first Pastorate. About Bab's reaction and her painful attempt to adjust to the remoteness of Bullard. With its lack of young people her age. And the Congregations' expectations of a Pastors' wife. I tried to soften the last one by addressing it in the Sunday evening service which I had announced.
That evening, the topic of the sermon must have aroused some curiosity, the Church was full. I even noticed that there were some who had not been in the Morning service. When it came time for the sermon, I stepped down in front of the Congregation. And said words to the effect (which by the way I used each time I was appointed to a new Church).
First, that Babs was not hired to be the second minister, "what you see's, is what you get." (referring to myself) "I hope that you and I can share the good times and the bad times of one another. And do what is needed, to be what a Church should be. Babs may or may not want to teach a Sunday school class, a Bible Class or become a member of the W.C.S., unless she so chooses. She is first and foremost my wife, but much more than that, she is a person with her own identity. She is not the "Preacher's Wife", she has a name. And while we are on the subject of names, I also have a name and it is not, "Hey! Preacher". In fact, I wouldn't mind it, if you were to call me, Lee. I would prefer this to "Preacher". For I would hope that my training has prepared me to do far more than just preach."
You could have heard a pin drop. I went on to say; "My call to the ministry, was out of a need to give something of myself. I did not have a 'road to Damascus' experience, and fall off of a jackass like Saul of Tarsus. I have come out of the secular 'world of work', I have done many things. I joined the ministry, so that I could grow and understand how the "Word became flesh". And how it might become my flesh and then, maybe help you to understand this "process". Also I will bring to the table all I have to give. I would ask that you do the same. And maybe, just maybe, you and I together can be the Church, that is needed in this community".
"Also, I ask you to remember that I was created a man first. When I came upon the scene, The doctor didn't say to my Mother; "you have a son and he is a Minister". Or my Father didn't say; "Oh, look!, he's a Minister". I am a Minister by choice. The training I have received is out of the secular arena. A Church, needs to be "business sound" and in many ways run like any other business. If it is to be successful. "Yes, I am aware and know that a Church is much more than just a business. I am aware of its' History to some extent. The Spiritual dimensions of a Church is its' core and we remind ourselves of this each Sunday, as we pay mind to the tenants of our faith, as we recite the Apostles' Creed and read the lessons from the Scriptures. If you will help me to be more spiritually sound, I will help you and the Church to be more business sound. Is that a deal?" I hope your answer is "Yes"!
"The Methodist Discipline states that I am 'Pastor in Charge'. That could be interpreted in many ways. I would rather believe that all of us have been given a Charge, when we were Baptized and joined the Church (The Body of Christ). That we are charged each time we take Communion and hear the words; "Take eat and drink and do this in Remembrance of me." Also, we should remember our charge, when we see those in need, those who are less fortunate than we are. We should remember our charge, when we see the Lord's house is in need of repair or the grass is "as high as an elephant's eye." And the most important charge of all; "not my will but thy will be done."
"Are we not all Pilgrims along the way seeking for the abundant life? That life, that gives meaning and purpose to that which we say and do, day by day. That life, that helps us to understand that we are not in this, all alone. That not only do we have each other, but we have a Father and his Son, our brother, who is on our side. To remind us, as to who we are. That we were created in the 'Image'; in the same likeness, the same substance. The words rang loud and clear down through the corridors of time; "Let us create man in our image, in our likeness." Of course, today we know and accept, this includes the opposite sex as well. None of us are chopped liver."
In essence this was the message that evening. The morning sermon was; 'What Is Your Ultimate Concern'?
The Pastorate lasted three years in Bullard, Mark Lee was borne while we were there, in a Hospital located in Jacksonville, Texas. Now there was Babs, I and baby makes three. Also in that last year in Bullard. I learned that if, I would attend a Summer Course at Perkins School of Theology on the campus of Southern Methodist University, for six weeks. I could get credit for a whole years' correspondence work. At that point I had completed two an a half years towards the required seven years to become an ordained Elder in the Methodist Church.
I jumped at the chance. After the completion of the summer courses, several of the Seminarys' professors (Dr. Grimes, Dr. Jackson and Dr. Judy) spoke to the Dean, an appointment was set up for me to speak to Dr.Quillian about entering Perkins, why not? None of the Professors were aware of the fact that I had not finished High School. The day of the appointment with Dr. Quillian came, I was ushered into the Dean's office, we exchanged some opening remarks. He said that several of the Professors had mentioned my name to him. And that they believed I should be in Seminary, due to the work and the contributions I had made during the summer session. Then Dean Quillian asked; "The Sixty-Four Thousand Dollar Question". "By the way where did you go to College?" I knew the question had to come up, but I was hoping for it to be a little later in the conversation. Without flinching, I said; " I didn't go to college." Did you graduate from High School?" Was his next question,"No, sir, I quit High School before my senior year and entered the Second World War". In his Southern drawl, he said; "No one has ever come to Perkins or any other Seminary without a College Degree, let alone without a High School Diploma. It just is not done".
He went on to say that the Regents Board of the University would not allow it. And further more, it would affect the Seminary's Accreditations standing, academically. My reply was, although I did not understand everything he said; "Wouldn't it be interesting to allow some one who is out of the Secular 'work a day world', and who is of my age (33) to attend Perkins and see what they could accomplish?".The Dean said; "we couldn't get it approved. Plus, there would be some Faculty members, who would object. Not to mention some of the Conference Ministerial Boards and their comments".
At this point I asked; "Wouldn't it put Perkins on the cutting edge and prove that Perkins is progressive and adaptive to the times. Is it not a fact that the number of older men coming into the ministry is on the upswing. More and more men are deciding to enter the Ministry, later in life. Don't these men deserve the best training the Methodist Church has to offer. Is not Perkins the place to get that better training. Bringing older men into Perkins, who have the work a day experience might prove to be invaluable and advantageous. Creating an inter-generational atmosphere among the students. The young and older could both benefit".
Dean Quillian said: "Have you ever considered the Law profession?" You have made your point. And made it well. Maybe the time is right to expand our horizons and reach out to that age group, who are entering the Ministry later in life. And yes, the cross pollination might add a different dimension in our classrooms, and to the seminar sessions. Plus, give the Faculty a chance to hear a new perception, from the 'man on the street', so to speak.
I want you to go home and write a paper. On why you should be admitted to Perkins? Stating your case, as you just did. Tell us; the Faculty and the Regents Board; why Seminary training would help you, to be a better Pastor in the World as it is today?. " And why you think your experience in the 'work a day' world, would be of benefit to Perkins? ". And lastly; " Why at Thirty-three years of age did you decide to become a Minister and choose the Methodist Church? "
Before leaving the Seminary, and driving back to Bullard. I stopped in each of the Offices and thanked each of the Professors. Who went that extra mile for one of their students. I also slipped into one of the empty classrooms and took a seat. I closed my eyes and visualized myself in a classroom that was in session. With the Professor lecturing on Church History and I was taking notes, feverishly. Trying to keep up and listening as hard as I could. And then I raised my hand and asked a question. It was so real to me, I opened my eyes, and I knew. I knew, I would be in that room in the near future, raising my hand and asking a question.
This little exercise, I had practice, even as a young boy in learning a particular sport, and making the team. And later in life, in all the jobs I applied for and got. I believed in the process. I used to think the basketball into the basket. But I also practiced, practiced and practiced. I would go to twenty different places on the basketball court, half court. And start shooting, if I would make twenty in a row, I would go home. If a made five and missed the sixth one. I would start over. If I got to ten and missed the next one. I would go back to one and start again. If I got to nineteen and missed, back to one again.
I was taught that if you are going to learn something, learn how to do it good. When you learn how to do it good. Practice until your better. When you become better, practice until you reach your maximum potential. I have never forgotten that lesson. There is no age, where a person can not learn something new, if she or he still has most of their capacities
But back to the story
I drove back home, and could not wait to tell Babs about what had happened with Dean Quillian. She didn't exactly dance an "Irish jig" or turn cartwheels but she seemed faintly interested. I was ecstatic, I wrote a three page letter. A week later, I was asked to come to Perkins. I put the "metal to the pedal". I was in Dallas in record time. When I arrived at Perkins, Mrs. Nettles ushered me into the Dean's office. He came in shortly afterwards, we exchanged some questions and answers. And then, he said to me; your request to attend Perkins has carefully been studied by all the interested parties. We would like for you, if you would agree, to spend a week taking a number of tests both written and oral. Would you agree to that? I could hardly contain myself. I would have agreed to just about anything at that point, well almost anything.
Later, in the week I went up on the hill to the University (SMU) and met with the Personel staff, that had prepared the tests I was to take. They explained each test, as I took them. And told me, if there was a time limit for a particular test. There were tests; that tested my reading skills; how well I retained information, how well I understood what I read. In fact there were several kinds of comprehensive reading tests. How fast could I read and then give it back , putting it into my own my words. There were vocabulary tests. There were oral tests to show verbal acuity. Personality tests, Minnesota something, a Millers' Analogy Test. And more tests, which took about four an a half days in all. Each evening when I drove back to Bullard, I was punchy. Finally it was over. All that remained, was possibly the shouting, I repeated the Classroom visualization, whenever possible.
Three weeks to the day, I saw Dean Quillian, at a Lakeview Assembly, I knew he would be there. I cut through the crowd, he saw me coming. He said; "you are almost there, we have one more request. We would like for you, to come to Perkins and answer some questions from some of the Faculty. And also some questions, from those who administered your tests. Could we arrange a meeting, say for next week? I'll have Mrs. Nettles call you". At that point, I knew it would happen.
I drove to Dallas for the final interview, hoping that the next time I drove to Dallas would be to enter Seminary, as a full time student. All were assembled; everybody shook hands, introductions were made, everybody settled in, for the 'questions and answer' period. Dean Quillian said; " Let us begin" as he lit his pipe. The questions began, they were of a general nature about my childhood, parents, schooling, Army service, past jobs, religious background, etc. After all the give and take, the humor and laughing, it was over. By consensus, I was admitted as a Probationary student, to start Seminary in the fall. Which was just around the corner. There were no guarantees. My performance would be assessed each quarter.
After the meeting was over, Dr. Quillian said to me; "that there were no promises beyond my receiving a Seminary training in the next three years. It will replace the correspondence work you have been doing. Dr. Holt will help in finding you some financial aid and some scholarship moneys. He also said, that arrangements would be made between the North Texas Conference and the Texas Conference, And that a new Supply Pastor would be assigned to the Bullard Church".
His parting remark; "you have been given the opportunity. To break new ground, many people have put their necks on the line for you, amid much criticism. The Seminary, also has a stake in this experiment. Many of us believe you have the ability and the drive to succeed. Don't let them down. My door is always open to you, should you have any problems. Lee, you need to make the disbelievers, into believers". I thanked him, for all that he had done on my behalf. And told him that "I would do the job expected of me. I hadn't come this far, to fail".
Looking back on my life, I have had so many, to use Maslow's term " peak experiences". Those moments, those "NOW's" and "WOW'S. But the moment, I knew I was accepted to Perkins, what a high!
I rushed back home to tell Babs the wonderful news, but as I was driving back home, my joy was mixed with bittersweet. I told Babs all that happened . And that we would be moving to Dallas by the next month, living on campus in the married couples' Dorm with children.
Come Sunday, I announced, that Babs, Mark Lee and myself would be leaving for Dallas. That I had been accepted as a special student at Perkins School of Theology. Many knew that this might happen. For they were aware that I was trying to get into Seminary. That Sunday after Church and when we left, both Babs and I shed a few tears. As we pulled out of the driveway, we waved good-bye to those who had gathered. And to the dog and cat we left behind.
Dallas, "Here we come".
The newness of everything, new friends, new surroundings, new challenges. It took Babs time to relax, to become friends with some of the wives in the Dorm. And also to be in an academic atmosphere. Most of the wives were college graduates or if not graduates, had some college credits. Acceptance and belonging fears, surfaced for Babs. I thought the fears would eventually pass but they surfaced from time to time.
I was soaking up the Seminary experience like a big fat sponge. I was starved for knowledge because I had always felt that somehow I had been penalized throughout my life, for not having a diploma. So I could compete with some equity in the business world against the College graduates.
The first year I took a full load, of 16 credits. Later in the year, I took on the job of Dorm supervisor. Mrs. Nettles, the Deans' secretary was in charge of the Dorm Supervisors, when the job came open she recommend me and I got the job. And shortly after that I took on three Circuit Churches in the Waxahachie District of the North Texas Conference. They were ideal, come each Sunday, Babs, Mark and myself would pile into the car, about nine or nine-thirty, and drive; to Ennis, Texas, for the ten-o-clock Church service. After I had finished preaching, we would all get back into the car and drive to the next Church, which was Oak Grove, if my memory serves me. For the second service at eleven-o-clock.. After the Service was over, back into the car again to return to Dallas. Unless we were invited out to lunch. After lunch, then back to the Seminary. In the evening, I would drive to the third church for their evening service.
I preached the same sermon at all three Churches. Then I would drive back to Seminary that night. I said earlier that the appointment was ideal. All the other married students that had Circuit Churches, would have to leave on a Friday evening and get back late Sunday evening, that was difficult.
Between the three churches, the Dorm supervisors' job, studies, marriage and the Perkins Sports program which I headed up, kept me fairly busy. There were times I met myself coming and going. My grades hovered in an around a 3.5 average. Babs was adjusting slowly to campus life. She had her good days and her bad days. In those bad days, a depression would set in, followed by boredom and discontentment. Anything could trigger it, I never knew when the thunder and lighting would occur. The worst times would be when I was trying to get a paper finished before the deadline set by a Professor. Or while driving to the Church service on a Sunday morning. Trying to collect my thoughts; thinking about the points of the sermon, the announcements that had to be made. And then, 'wham, bamm'!, thank you ma'am'!, all of a sudden I would find myself in the 'eye of the storm'.
As we would pull up in front of the Church, I would step from the car as though, I just stepped off of the "Love Boat." To meet the first Parishioner. " Good Morning, " How have you been? Lovely day isn't it?" Down the aisle, step into the pulpit, check to see if I was all there, after the tornado. Again, a "Good morning, our opening hymn is " Love Lifted Me " [as I thought to myself, If only they knew.] The title should have been; "The Love Elevator Is Out Of Order"
These little vignettes surfaced at the most awkward of times. But, that's life! Babs couldn't understand my silence in these moments. But, silence was my only refuge, if I was to retain my sanity. There of course was another alternative, to get into a knock down, dragged out fight. And do a lot of shouting and screaming, and afterwards ask yourself, what was that all about? Now, one has yet another alternative, to sit down and try to discuss the whole thing rationally. But that is easier said, than done. At one time, we went to a Marriage Counselor. But that was short lived. Babs thought the Counselor was taking sides. The wrong side.
Two words are repeatedly used as reasons for the parting of the way. Both in counseling and in the Court of Law. Incompatibility and irreconcilable differences, both these words cover the waterfront. But why incompatible and why irreconcilable? Without going into ones' childhood, ones' relationship with either one of the parents. Ones', repressed or suppressed urges, sibling rivalry, or the pecking order. Whether the parents were overly strict or practiced a hands off approach. Whether love was shown, or evident in the family relationships, etc., etc., etc.
I am going to paint a very large brush stroke and say; that a good part of the trouble in many Marriages stems from the fact that one or both are suffering from a low self-esteem and or a lack of self-respect. And that in a majority of cases this has its' roots, in that People do not love or like themselves. Or, some go as far as hating themselves. I know that this a simplistic answer, but it bears thought.
Sorry for the lapse, back to the story at hand.
At the end of the third year, near Graduation time. I was informed by the Dean's office. That the Board of Regents of the University, was reviewing the possibility of giving me a 'Graduate' diploma. So I could graduate with the rest of my class.. Well, it happened, I was given a Graduate Degree. The day of my Graduation, a 'dream came true'. I had beaten the odds and did it my way. With a lot help from the sidelines; with an act of concern and interest by three Professors which had started the ball rolling. Then Dean Quillian and his courage and effort to do something different. The support of the people on the "Hill" that gave my testing. And all the Faculty that were pulling for me. Plus, all the well-wishers that encouraged me. Hey!, with a support team like that was there any doubt. I do not believe at any point throughout my Seminary challenge, did I ever hear any words of encouragement from my spouse. Nor, upon my receiving a Degree over all odds, did I hear anything.. Except she did not want to be a ministers' wife. And that I thought more about the Church, than of her. Well they do say; 'that some people like to rain on other peoples' parade'.
Just before Graduation, I was approached by a Dr. Leighton Farrell, who at that time was liaison to Bishop Pope, the presiding Bishop over the North and Central Conferences. Leighton was to be appointed, come June appointments, to the 'First United Methodist Church' in Richardson, Texas. A much sought after Church appointment. Leighton wanted me, as his associate pastor. Initially, I said; " No." I wanted my own Church, to be the Pastor in charge. But after much discussion, I finally accepted his offer.
Unknowingly, I had made a number of enemies in two Conferences. Sort of a hostile envy existed. It had started in the Texas Conference and spread into the North Texas Conference. Underlying rumors and criticism about my coming in through the " back door." Because of having been allowed into Seminary without a High School diploma and no College. And then being awarded a 'Graduate Degree'. And on top of that, a prearranged prestige Associate appointment via the Bishop's Office. There were some very unhappy people; ministers, Superintendents and members of the Ministerial Qualification Boards of both Conferences.
The Ministerial Qualifications Board of each Conference reviews all graduates for their Elders' Ordination. Your fate is in their hands, they can say; " Yes " or " No. " When I was called in to stand before the Board; the Chairman of the Board was Rev. Henry Lawson, to put it mildly, he was not a "happy camper". He questioned the validity of my attending Seminary without a High School Diploma. He opposed; on the grounds that it was not in compliance with the conditions laid out in the 'Methodist Discipline'. He also questioned the validity of my Seminary training, inferring preferential treatment as a special student. Later, he brought up the fact that I had been divorced and that it was known that I smoked and drank a beer, now and then while in Seminary. I reminded him of the fact that the smoking and drinking issue had been resolved by a 'General Conference' vote. That any questions related to smoking and drinking had been revised in the 'Discipline' by a majority vote. And that one could not be asked whether they smoked or imbided? That, the 'Discipline' had relegated these questions to be a "matter of conscience". And furthermore, as to my Seminary experience, I wanted to remind, the right Reverend Lawson "that,..."
Before I could finish the sentence. Dean Quillian stood and said; "I think at this point, I need to say something, if Mr. Mc Ginnis doesn't mind. stepping out of the room for a moment". I yielded the floor and stepped out of the room. I learned afterwards, I was well represented by Dean Quillian and Mr. Lawson deferred.. The Board did how ever recommend that I set up an appointment to see the Conference appointed Counselor, Dee Wickston for an evaluation. This had been the trade off.
I had the appointment; during the conversation with Dee Wickston; he said that the animosity of the Board towards me was a backlash. That the Board felt as though it had been slighted and by-passed, by the Bishop and Leighton in regards to my appointment as his Associate to Fiirst United Methodist Church in Richardson, Texas. He gave me a clean bill of stability.
After Graduation; the three of us moved to Richardson, Texas, and my new assignment. 'First United Methodist Church' was a great Church, it was in one of the fastest growing areas outside the limits of Metropolitan Dallas. A Bedroom Community which housed "Collins Electric" and "Texas Instruments", both Companies were in the fast growing Computer market. As they grew, First Church grew right along with them. The Churchs' Membership moved from three thousand to six thousand, in three years. The Church's Ministerial staff went from two to five, the Educational coordinators and the Office Staff was also increased. A new Educational wing was built, the Church had outgrown its' facilities. Leighton knew how to get things done, he pressed the right buttons. He was people wise. A well-rounded Pastor, who worked under a hidden stress.
After three years apprenticeship with Leighton, I opted to start a new Church. I was appointed to a yet to be named Church on the borderline between the City of Richardson and the City of Garland. The Church was finally named 'Richland United Methodist Church'. Our first Church service was held in a Primary School building. Shortly, thereafter a temporary Church Extension Building was erected on a piece of property purchased by the Extension Board. We had about ten families when we started. Some were members of the First United Methodist Church that lived closer to us. They became the nucleus of the beginning Church.
To back up in time; near the end of my associate days at First Church. Another child was born into the Mc Ginnis family, her name was Kerry Leigh. Mark had a little sister, he was no longer the baby of the family, now a big brother, the elder child. This new addition temporily cured Babs's despondency and boredom, but only off and on. The usual barbs and jabs, the hostilities, the anger at times was always waiting in the wings. To appear at the most disquieting of times. What infuriated Babs the most, I believe, was that I refused to join the fray. I would not play the game. I do not have a doubt in my mind that because I was raised in that sort of an atmosphere. I was" sicken unto death" to become part of the same syndrome. Plus, I was always conscious, always aware that, " little pitchers have big ears." No child, should be subjected to such behavior on the part of his or her parents. Because some children carry the scars all their lives. And cannot shake them for whatever reasons, the strife and conflict, grew more strident and acrimonious. Of all times, it came to a head during the 'Christmas Season', a Season in which you would least expect it.
Bab's parents had come in from Houston for a visit, during the Holidays. It was evident to them, that something was wrong, it was in the air. Their were irreconcilable (theres' that word again) differences, that never ever really left our 11 year relationship, from that day when the words rang out:" I don't want to be a minister's wife. You chose to become a minister. I didn't."
The Marriage was over, Babs, I am sure, never thought there would be a divorce. Because a second divorce would ruin me in the Ministry. And she had counted on this, to stop any thought of a divorce. But when a marriage is over and " the fat lady has sung " it is over. And "all the King's men, can't put it back together again". For me to live my life out, for the children to live their life out, in a marriage that is treading water all the time, barely keeping its' head above the waterline. Is a non-productive, a non-conducive situation; if it isn't good for all the parties concerned, it needs to be buried. Work through the trauma, or the grief or whatever, and get on with living.
The minute, the 'powers to be', learned about the up and coming divorce proceedings. I was released from the Ministry of 'Richland United Methodist Church' and put on hold. My Congregation signed a petition to persuade the Bishop to reinstate me, but he would have no part of it. We were just a beginning Church, and there was no doubt, that since I was one of the first of the brethren to be divorced. He, the Bishop was going to make a point, a statement. There were no charges of theft, adultery, blasphemy or heresy. No grounds for a trial, I had to be re-instated. I was called into the Bishop's office, just before the June appointment time. Both the Bishop and the District Superintendent, said I should resigned and leave the ministry. That my divorce was a black mark against the Ministry. And by example, I portrayed a bad image as to the sanctity of marriage. And that if I insisted on staying in the Ministry; they, the Bishop and the District Superintendent would ship me, to the furthest point in the Conference, which they did come June Appointments. They also said, that appointing an unmarried divorced man, would be a problem. I might have to wait until the following year for an appointment. But I had anticipated this might happen, to block my appointment. And when I said, I will be married by Conference time, you could see the wind go out of their sails. On that note I turned and left the office.
Well, come Conference Time, I was married to Ceci , who had three lovely daughters, Janet, Julia and Linda. We all moved to Kemp, Texas, and yes, it was the furthest point in the North Texas Conference, a two point circuit charge, Kemp and the Becker United Methodist Church, Becker was about a fifteen minute drive. We stayed in Kemp, the Parsonage was new and quite adequate. Ceci, was a very effervescent person, one who people liked on contact. She was a trained vocalist, a beautiful voice and had done professional work in Musicals. She also played the piano. Her greatest asset, was her disposition; she was a "up" person, who was seldom down. We had no great problems, a little difference in the handling of the youngest girl, Janet, who was a charmer but precocious at times. We had a good Ministry, it was an easy Ministry. My immediate challenge, was to get new blood into the Church. Some younger couples with children. And to get the Church painted. The Becker United Methodist Church, in Becker, was basically a family church, Mr. George Becker was the main financial support for the Church. Maybe ten persons on a Sunday morning, most in their sixties or above. The Church would remain as long as George was alive. We stayed in Kemp for three years, both of the older girls became married, while we were in Kemp. Ceci was a Mary Kay Cosmetic Consultant, this was her outlet. Plus, for a while she did some part time legal secretarial work for a Law firm in Mabank. She was multi-talented.
From time to time, she contributed several articles to the local papers in the area. She was an excellent features writer, that is how we met. She did an article in the Richardson Newspaper, about 'Richland United Methodist Church'. After my divorce, I ran into her and we talked; she said, "how sorry she was to hear that I was no longer at the Church", that was it. Then one day, I called the Newspaper office and asked her out on a date. One thing led to another and before either of us realized it, we were seeing each other more and more. We decided to get married instead of living in the big "S". In Texas there is a waiting period between marriages but we crossed over into Oklahoma and were married by a Justice of The Peace, who called himself "Marrying Sam.", who had actually played the part in a Broadway Production of "Li'l Abner". This all happened just before Conference time. I informed the Bishop that I had gotten married.
In the last year, while I was in Kemp, Bishop Pope retired. And the North Texas Conference received a new Bishop. Bishop McPheron Stowe, plucked me out of Kemp, come appointment time in June. I was sent to Henrietta, Texas, a County seat Town, in the Witchta Falls District. Just Ceci, Janet and I, the two older girls were married.
This Church, had changed Ministers faster than a 'Catwalk Model' can change her clothes. They were delinquent in their apportionment's each year. They hadn't raised the Pastors' salary in nine years. The growth had been negligible. And there were very few young people in the Church. No new blood. There was also a strong power structure that held the Church back. And an inbreeding on the Board, husbands and wives serving and switching jobs each year, controlling the Board. It was their Church, they pulled the strings. Well, needless to say, things got sticky.
The Church does not belong to a power click, to but a few. The Church is the Priesthood of all believers. It is of God, for the glory of God, not for any one group, or single individual. The Methodist Church, is not the Baptist church. It is not some isolated autonomous Bible Church, that peddles the Cooks', or the Navigators', or the Crusade for Christ Literature. A Methodist Church is a Methodist Church, the Members cannot ignore the tenets, nor the Discipline of the Methodist Church and it's protocol. When one becomes a member of the Methodist Church, they stand before God and the other members of the that Church. And say, to the questions asked," Yes." or " I will."
I was there for two years, a two year uphill battle, a lesson in futility and patience. I was re-appointed for the third year. I returned to the Church. But shortly thereafter, I voluntarily resigned in the second week, in June of '76. While Ceci was visiting her parents in Indiana. I had violated my vows to both the Church and my wife. I could not stay with either one of them in good conscience. The reasons for my transgression are not important, nor would be the words. It happened, it just happened. I will not defend myself or my actions. That was twenty-three years ago and I still regret my actions. That had never happened before or since, nor will it happen again. But this is of no consolation, nor does it right the wrong.
I settled in Dallas, became involved with a lady, her name was Dede. Dede was twenty-five, I was zeroing in on the half-century mark. Truly a winter/spring relationship, it lasted seven years. No marriage involved. Eventually we separated, she wanted something different, which she got. We parted friends, which she denied twenty-five years later.
On August 28, 1983, I left the Dallas area to walk the 50 States of America. In February of 1987, I finished. I was in Hawaii, my 50th. State. I flew back to the States, landed at the San Diego Airport, in California. I was expecting a long legged Elle to meet me at the Airport. We had met in El Cajon, prior to my leaving for Hawaii. We had corresponded and talked on the phone, while I was trying to secure a passage to Hawaii. No Elle, I went to the Baggage Counter to pick-up my backpack. Just as I was getting ready to leave, I spotted Elle, she spotted me, and like a film clip, we ran into each others' arms. She thought she had missed me.
After Elle's divorce, we lived together for a while. But eventually we thought it would be best, for her children's sake, to get married. A joint custody for the children was established, one month with the father, one month with the mother. Whoever thought this one up, never lived it.
It is a "three ring circus", for the child or the children and for the parents. And should there be step-parents or a step-parent involved, forget it. If the parents' hands are tied because of this arrangement, the step-parents' becomes even more so. He or she is bound and gagged. You just stand him/her up in the corner, and if anybody should ask, " who is that?". The kid can reply, "oh, that is somebody my mother married". You become about as useless as teats on a brass cow. I hope by now that California has changed this procedure. It is a "no win" situation, the children play one parent over and against the other parent. If both households have different rules, different ways of doing things, the children have no continuity. And of course the children, have fun and games. The inmates start running the asylum. The parents are not in control, the children dictate the terms. This arrangement becomes ideal for a blackmail situation; "If I don't get to do what I want to do here, I will go live with dad. Or vice versa. And you will never see me again." No child or teenager, should be allowed to blackmail their parent and get away with it. Both parents need to fight this before it gets out of hand.
Poor Elle was caught in the middle. She felt guilty over the divorce, along with thinking maybe that she had been selfish, thinking only about her needs and not the children's. This intensified her inner guilt. So when it came time for some decisiveness, having to do with a disruptive behavior problem, it was easier to acquiesce, and hope it would just go away on its' own. Confrontation meant losing the children, because they had the option, or the blackmail threat to go live with their father.
Of course what the father should have said to the children, "I will not allow you to blackmail your mother. If you use those tactics, you are not welcome in this house". Here we are talking about the strength of parenting. The children cannot write the rules, the children cannot become the parents. And the parents become the children. Once the child backs the parent down, the parent is no longer a parent.
When parents after a divorce situation allow the children or the child to do what they want, so they can gain favor with them, or so they will like staying with them better than staying with the other parent, they are doing a grave injustice to the child or children, and to the present household if there are step-parents involved.
Elle was between the rock and the hard place, after five years. She made the choice. She wanted out, she wanted her freedom. But also in the latter days, to be free from the guilt and the deception she was living with day by day.
Like in the long ago that same errie feeling; there was someone else in the house with us. What a shame, the timing was off... The relationship would probably have lasted. It was never a matter of loving one another, it was the circumstances. I left for Dublin, Ireland on March 17, 1992, to finish the rest of the World...
|home | walk of the hawk | history of the walk | micro bio | macro bio | photographs | press releases|
|eyes of the hawk | places & things | thanks for the memories | faq | sponsors and suppliers | guest book|