Bethel International United Methodist Church
Complete Story



An Act at 14 Forever Framed My Life

Christmastime in 1963 was going to be another hard one for my mother and my four younger siblings. My father was serving time at London Correctional Institution, Mr. Wehr was our welfare caseworker, and I was working long hours as an 8th grader for Knife’s Market in Dayton. Making ends meet was a challenge.

I was active in Boy Scouts and in our neighborhood Fairview EUB Church, often hanging out on a weekend night with my youth minister and his wife, Merv and Martha Matteson. Eight years later Merv would marry Diane and me, and 33 years after that would lay hands on me with Bishop Ough at my ordination at Lakeside.

It was at an ordination celebration back at my first church in Lewisburg that Dick and Dottie Thompson came to express their love. Dottie had rocked me as a baby in Fairview’s nursery and together with Dick had been the kindergarten Sunday school teachers for our two sons, Andy and Joey. They had faithfully supported my work in the Juvenile Court for years, and Dick and I had served together on Fairview’s Staff Parish Relations Committee.

LETTERDick wrote these words in a guest book that day in 2004, telling of an incident that had long since left my memory bank. But the scene came flooding back with great emotion. Here’s part of what we wrote:

“This joyous occasion reminds me of a scene in your life many years ago when you were a teenager. A Boy Scout troop where my son was a member wanted to help a neighborhood family. So I was designated the one to deliver this carload of groceries and gifts, which I did late one evening. Your siblings were in bed, but your Mom called you from where you were studying. As your eyes teared in seeing this outpouring of kindness, you said, “Mom, tell Mr. Thompson thanks, and also tell him that I promise to give my life to helping others” (this from a 14-year-old!!). Mike, we thank God for the ways that you have kept that promise!”

Generosity really does change everything. It forever changed me. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” -- 1 Peter 4:10.