Thursday, May 2, 2019

And Just Like That ...


... Sabbatical is over! 

Yesterday I started a new job as Chief Ministry Officer at the Intentional Growth Center (IGC) in Lake Junaluska. 

IGC is an agency of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the UMC that offers continuing education and leadership training for clergy and lay church leaders. Its mission is to "increase pastoral and congregational effectiveness for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." 

Here's how the IGC describes the work of the Chief Ministry Officer: 

This newly-created position is tasked with doing needed research, building relationships with key leaders across the Southeastern Jurisdiction, and identifying programmatic options that will result in renewed ministry which meets the mission of the IGC.

So why did I apply for this position? Because I'm passionate about education, training, and development of leaders. (That, plus a passion for international missions, is the reason I took a sabbatical.) Throughout my years as a pastor, some of my most joy-filled moments have come when I was teaching. I have longed desired to be in a ministry beyond the local church where I could focus on education and training. 

In Frederick Buechner’s oft-quoted words, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” My passion for education, coupled with the IGC’s need for a CMO, feels very much like a call. 

The bonus is that Lorie and I get to continue living at Lake Junaluska. We've really enjoyed being back in the mountains, being part of the Junaluska community, and being near our son and daughter-in-law, our daughter, and our grandsons. It's a little frustrating being 3 hours from our family members in the Triad area, but what we've found is that without the pressure of me having to preach every Sunday, it's a lot easier to make that trip and spend that time with our family in the Piedmont. 


The IGC's offices are located in the historic Atkins House overlooking Lake Junaluska. It's a beautiful place to come to work in the morning! Check out my parking place ...


Now--Does this mean I won't be taking an appointment to a local church? Yes. This is my appointment, at least for the 2019-2020 conference year. I am extremely grateful to the IGC for bringing me on board, and to Bishop Leeland and the Western NC Conference cabinet for appointing me to this extension ministry. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

History of the Methodist Church in Cambodia (MCC)

1980: Following the defeat of the Khmer Rouge, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) began relief efforts in Cambodia. In 1983, the United Methodist Indochinese Caucus was established by the GBGM to provide fellowship among expatriates from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, many of whom expressed a desire to share their Christian faith with the people of their home countries.

1990: The National Assembly of Cambodia officially recognized the right of Christians to worship within Cambodia. That same year, plans were already in place on the part of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) to officially begin mission work in Cambodia--in the areas of community rehabilitation, education, health care, economic reform and of course, evangelization.

1990: Kong Vutty, a choir director of the Cambodia Methodist congregation in Stockton, California, visited Cambodia and established financial support for the Tek Thla Methodist congregation—a congregation that was formed mainly among Cambodians who managed to hide from the Khmer Rouge while remaining in the country.



The same year, a Christian Cambodian woman by the name of Lonn Tep from the United Methodist Church in Modesto, California , returned to her village of Phum Phnov and evangelized among her family and the people in the village. This eventually resulted in the birth of the Methodist Church not only in Phum Phnov but also in other villages in the province of Svay Rieng.

1990: A congregation that was started in Kampong Cham established a relationship with the United Methodist Church in France.
1991: The Korean Methodist Church began mission work in Cambodia.
1992: The Cambodian United Methodist Church in Paris, France  opened two congregations in the province of Kampong Thom...

1992: Samuel Von, a United Methodist Cambodian pastor from the California-Nevada Conference brought the funds from Centenary United Methodist Church to build the church facility in Phum Phnov.

.


1994: Rev. Kean Ung, a Cambodian pastor in Switzerland, returned to Cambodia and organized a Methodist Congregation in Ta Kdol, near the Capital city of Phnom Penh.

1996: The Methodist Church in Singapore appointed its first missionary to Cambodia:Mrs. Annabella Lim Poh Eng.

1998: The World Federation of Chinese Methodist Churches sent its first missionaries: Rev. Jessica Tiong Yien and Ms. Joyce Siew Sin Choo.

1996: A two-day mission consultation was held in Singapore among Korean, Singapore, Chinese and United Methodist Church representatives to work towards mission cooperation in Cambodia.

1997: Representative of the Korean, Singaporean, and The United Methodist Church mission boards, including  Connexio, the UMC mission board in Switzerland and France, discussed collaborative mission in Cambodia. Cambodian Methodists were among the delegates.

In the same year, a Coordinating Board for all Methodist Mission in Cambodia was organized.

1998: The first joint Pastors’ school was held in Phnom Penh  with over 100 lay Khmer (native Cambodian) pastors in attendance.

2000: The opening service for the first entering class at the Cambodian Methodist Bible School was held.



The same year, the Cambodian government recognized the registration of the Cambodia Christian Methodist Association.

2001: The first hymnal and worship book for the Methodist Mission in Cambodia was dedicated.

2002: The bishops of the various agencies met in Zurich, Switzerland and signed a document committing the work of the agencies toward one Methodist Church in Cambodia

2003: The first ordination service of the Mission was held. Ten Khmer pastors were ordained deacons.




2008: The Methodist work became the Methodist Mission in Cambodia which merged the work of all the agencies.

2009: The first Annual Meeting of the Methodist Mission in Cambodia was held.

2010: All the district superintendents appointed by  the bishop were Khmer.

2018: In September, the Methodist Church of Cambodia became official, with Pastor Lun Sophy elected as its first president. 

As of this date, the MCC had 140 congregations, 11 districts, 132 clergypersons, 3,171 full members and an average Sunday worship attendance of 6,828.

TODAY: 

"Faithful to our Wesleyan heritage, we are committed to a Holistic ministry that embraces both personal conversion to discipleship in Christ and social transformation.  It encompasses all human relationships—with neighbor, with nature, and with God.  We have ministries in health care, education, community development, leadership development, and livelihood development.  We have missionaries from Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the USA, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Korea, Cambodia and Bangladesh.

"We give glory to God for what God has done and continues to do among the people of Cambodia!"

--Samuel Om, GBGM Missionary to Cambodia

Sam, Caroline, and Syvanny Om
CLICK HERE to read a post I wrote in 2014 about Sam and Syvanny were commissioned as missionaries to their home country of Cambodia! 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Calling all Pray-ers!


Lorie and I are at it again! 

This time we're headed for Cambodia, where I'll be conducting a training seminar for local United Methodist pastors, and another one for lay church members.  In between these seminars, we'll be traveling the country, visiting and encouraging our missionaries and pastors and their families, and working alongside some long-time friends from North Carolina. 

There's lots to tell, but for now, I need folks who will pray! I don't just mean people who will say a quick prayer after you read this (although I'll take that). I'm looking for people who will commit to spend time DAILY praying for Lorie and me and the work we'll be doing in Cambodia. 

If that's you, then please email me at prayforclaude@gmail.com. If you're willing to make this daily prayer commitment, I'll send you regular email updates. 

Joining our prayer team is no small thing. Our mission trip last fall was to Tanzania, where I taught theology students at Wesley College. I was pretty stressed. After all ...

  • I had never taught a college course before. 
  • I had never taught a college course in a one-week intensive before.  
  • I had never taught a college course in a one-week intensive in Africa before! 
There was so much that could go wrong--and indeed, a few things did. But in the end, it turned out to be an amazing, Spirit-empowered experience. God moved, in response to the prayers of His people. 

I'd like to see that happen again. But I need your help. 

Let me hear from you soon! 

PS--To learn more about how important this is, please click here. And here. And check out "Seven things all missionaries need ..."

Monday, November 5, 2018

"He Touched Me" (My Dad's Last Sermon)

This sermon was delivered on May 20, 2012 at First United Methodist Church in Stanley, North Carolina. 

By this time Dad was mostly unable to walk, so he sat in a wheelchair, and my mother turned the pages for him. 

This past Saturday, I read this sermon at Dad’s memorial service.

If you keep up with the timeline, you’ll notice that I added three paragraphs to this sermon. Nonetheless, we believe that this is what Dad might say if he could speak to us today:



HE TOUCHED ME

Acts 3:1-10

The Scripture today is about a man who was touched by the power of Jesus.  He was a beggar who was lame from birth, and he was healed by the power of Jesus. 

There have been times when Jesus touched my life.

As a new born baby, I was not expected to live. My twin was the stronger of us, while I was weak, frail, even unable to suckle.  My death appeared so imminent that my parents delayed naming me.  To everyone’s surprise my twin died and I was the one who survived.  Yes, He touched me and let me live!

At age 13, during revival services at my home church, West End Gastonia, now Covenant, I felt God’s touch on my life during the moving sermons and even at meetings of the youth group. 

When I was in High school, I attended the Youth Assembly at Lake Junaluska.  I was touched by Jesus while walking from Shackford Hall to the cross.  I knew that God was in my life and that I was His.

In February 1947, when I was nineteen years old, I went to The Christian Workers School at Main Street Methodist Church in Gastonia.  Mrs. E. H. Ould led a class designed especially for youth. During this school I was asked to read the scripture at the worship assembly for the evening.  Mabel Davis, a fellow church member from West End Church said, “Jack, you looked just like a preacher up there reading the scriptures.” Upon hearing this I felt elated, warmly proud and deeply grateful.  He touched me again.

Later that year, the Western North Carolina Conference sponsored a three-day convocation in Salisbury for young men interested in entering the ministry.  

Reverend Higgins, our pastor at West End, graciously took me to Salisbury. Throughout the conference we heard lectures on what it means to be called to the Methodist Ministry.  Upon my return to Gastonia, at approximately 7:00pm on Sunday evening I attended a special Love Feast Service at West End Church. This was a time when those present would testify about the meaning of Christ in their lives. 

Our Sanctuary was designed after the Akron Plan, which meant the pews were arranged in a semi-circle.  The service was already in progress when I arrived.  So, I slipped in quietly and took a seat on the back pew.  People all around me were testifying regarding the meaning of Christ in their lives.  After awhile, I could take it no longer.  I stood up in my place and I said, “If I continue to feel like I do tonight, I will study for the Methodist Ministry.”

Reverend Higgins stood up and with tears streaming down his cheeks, said, “Jack, we have been praying for this night.”   God didn’t just touch me—he grabbed hold of me and claimed me as his.  

These were high points in my life where I felt God’s presence and knew he was there. You have had these too.  Remember?


God has been with me in the low times, as well.   

Once, about 1962 or 3, I began to feel like a failure.  I wanted to be a perfect husband, father, and minister.  But I was none of these.  I was impatient with my child, I felt I was going nowhere as a minister.  The system was oppressing me.  I thought I couldn’t serve unless I could climb the appointment ladder.  

At 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, I put on my clothes and went to the church.  I fell on my knees at the altar and offered my life to God. And as I prayed, He touched me!  He showed me meaning and purpose in what I was doing.  He showed me that I was not in competition with anyone.

You can reach this level of trust with God.  Let God touch you and you will know that He is good.  He will give meaning to your life.

One of the biggest challenges to my faith was being diagnosed with cancer in 1987. I was not prepared for what could have been the end of my professional career, the end of my personal relationships, and the end of my journey with God.

But God is dependable.  God is aware. God knows me better than I know myself.
            
He touched me, and healed me, and let me continue to serve.

Then in 2016—two years ago: I was in the hospital, and I was diagnosed with pancreatitis. There is no treatment, and at my age it was considered terminal. I was sent to Beacon Place Hospice Home to live out the rest of my days. But He touched me. After two weeks I got better, and they made me leave! 

From there I went to Blumenthal Nursing and Rehabilitation. Again, it was thought that I might live out my days in that facility. But after two months of hard work, the doctors released me to live at home. He touched me again! I lived at home for two and a half years, with the assistance of my wife and some wonderful caregivers. I was able to be with my wife, to spend time with family, and to receive visitors at home. I had some wonderful moments of laughter, joy, and love.

But my body continued to wear out. And so, on October 22, 2018, He touched me for the last time on this earth. I was at home. I was at peace. I was in the presence of my dear wife, Claudette, with whom I have spent the last 65 years. And Jesus came into my room, and took me by the hand and said, “Jack, your work on earth is done.” 

He touched me. 


CONCLUSION:
When I was serving Ward Street United Methodist Church in High Point, we had a Lay Witness Mission which began the day I brought my baby daughter home from the hospital.  One of my members intentionally avoided the events of the weekend, but for some reason he came with his wife to the evaluation session. As we talked about the witnesses and what they had shared with us, Virgil publicly said, “I want what they have.”  I said, “Virgil, if you mean a close relationship to God in Christ, we’ll just go upstairs to the altar for a service of dedication right now.”  He said, “That’s what I want.”  Everyone present went upstairs to the sanctuary together and Virgil dedicated his life to God.

Some of you here today might be like Virgil.  You’ve been on the outside looking in at people who’ve been touched by God.  

You don’t have to stay there. You can be touched by the master and get into the mainstream of Christian living.

I don’t have any monopoly on being touched by God. Virgil doesn’t have a monopoly on being touched by God. 

You can experience the presence of a God who loves you, who heals you, who wants to be in relationship with you forever. 

He touched me. Let him touch you. AMEN.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Email Tribute


This is an email I received shortly after my father passed away. I was deeply moved by these words. Notice what comes after the words "most importantly."

Reverend Kayler was an exceptional pastor and a true friend to all persons he encountered.

Some twenty five years ago, your father came to our church as interim pastor.  At the time the church was in the midst of a difficult and painful crisis. As a young man straight out of undergraduate school, I had somehow been appointed to the church's PPRC Committee and had to help sort out the mess we had inherited.

Throughout our difficult period of transition your father offered tremendous wisdom, experience, counsel and (most importantly) love.  I dare say that had it not been for your father the church might well have split and fallen apart at the seams - but thanks to "Preacher Jack" as we liked to call him, the church persevered, held together, and continued the work of Christ and his Church for the people of our community.

I must confess that your father was quite the mentor to me (a twenty four year old kid who thought he knew it all).  Your father was the first pastor to ask me - "Son - have you considered seminary?"  While I have never had the courage to take that leap the interest he took in me and my future still resonates today.

On behalf of my family (and the many good people whom your father served) please accept our deepest condolences. While we mourn with you we also rejoice in the knowledge that your father has left the Church Expectant and has entered into the Church Triumphant.

Men like your father were one of a kind and I dare say that his love and ministries shall never be forgotten.


This is Claude again: 
I invite you to join me in reflecting on a question. This is for you and me both: 

After I pass, when someone writes an email about me, what will it say? What will they remember about me? 

Will they remember me as one who LOVED? 

Because you know what? That's really The Most Important Thing. I may never be rich, famous, powerful, influential ... but in the end there is only one thing that matters. 

God please empower me to be a person who LOVES. By your grace working in me, let that be what folks remember when my work on earth is done. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Blessed



*NOTE: After you read this, I hope you'll take a few minutes and watch Dad's Memorial Video!

Dad's memorial service is this Saturday at 1 pm at Guilford College UMC in Greensboro. 

While preparing for the service, this thought has struck me over and over ... 

I am blessed. 

I'm blessed that we had Dad a good long time.  He was 91. He got to see all three of his children married. He had lots of time with his grandchildren. He got to meet his first great grandchild (see above). 

I'm blessed that Dad and I had a great relationship. No regrets.  That could easily have gone a different way. I was a rebellious teenager, and in those days, we did not get along. Which reminds me ...

I'm blessed that God used Dad, the Scandinavian Caravan, and some of the people who will be speaking at his memorial to lead me to Christ. Where would I be today if that hadn't happened? 

I'm blessed that Dad and I shared the same profession. Even in his later years, we always had something to talk about. Not that we only talked about work. But pastoral ministry is such a unique life. To have that in common was special. 

I'm blessed to be part of the United Methodist family. The "Connexion," as John Wesley called it. The very day Dad died, a representative from the conference was at our doorstep with a check. The fellow pastors, the church members, the staff that Dad and I have worked with ... so many have come around us with love and support. 

I'm blessed to live at Lake Junaluska, which I like to call the "Methodist Holy Land." I'm surrounded by Methodist preachers who worked alongside my Dad and in some cases, watched me grow up. That's comforting at a time like this. 

I'm blessed to have a mother who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to take care of Dad in the almost ten years since he lost the ability to walk without assistance.

I'm blessed to have a brother and sister who I love, who married people that I love, who passionately live out the values that Dad instilled in us. 

I'm blessed to have nieces and nephews who are active in their churches and excelling in school, sports, and the arts. 

I'm blessed to have two adult children in whom Dad's influence continues to bear fruit. 

I'm blessed to have a wife who loved Dad as much as I did. 

I'm blessed to have a 3-year-old grandson who is so cute that people literally stop his parents in public to comment on it. And a newborn grandson who many people say looks like me. And a daughter-in-law who deeply loves, and is deeply loved by, our entire family. 

I am blessed. Way more than I deserve. 

Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Jack Kayler: June 2, 1927 - October 22, 2018

Boy, do I miss him. 

My father, the Rev. Jack Kayler, passed away yesterday after a long struggle that began more than ten years ago. For more years that I can remember, he suffered intense pain in his back and legs, and so in 2009 he had a ten-hour back surgery to relieve the pain. That surgery left him unable to walk without assistance. 

Despite that, he continued to be as active as he possibly could--attending church, teaching Sunday School, giving pastoral care over the phone, participating in family events--even preaching on occasion, by sitting on a stool behind the pulpit. 

As the years went by, his abilities diminished slowly. He was diagnosed with corticobasal degeneration, a condition related to Parkinson's Disease. Two years ago he was hospitalized with pneumonia, then diagnosed with pancreatitis. The hospital doctor told us that there was no treatment, and Dad went to Beacon Place Hospice Home. 

He was there two weeks--and he got better. 

So they sent him to Blumenthal Nursing Home. He was there two months--and got better! 

And so for the last two years, Dad has lived at home with assistance from in-home caregivers (some of the most wonderful people on earth!). I'm so glad he was able to do that. Huge kudos to my Mom for insisting on that and doing what it took to make it happen. She has struggled through all of this as well. 

Even in these last two years, there were wonderful moments when the real Dad showed up. His humor. His energy. His love for family. His love for food. 

He loved to eat. Boy, could he eat. 

Once we were having dinner together, and Lorie had made this delicious berry cobbler. She fixed Dad a huge serving, topped with vanilla ice cream. It was gone in seconds. 

Lorie said, "Dad would you like some more cobbler?" He smiled and said, "Is my bowl empty?" 

Lorie: "Do you want ice cream?" 

Dad: "How else am I supposed to eat it?"  

As Dad dug in, enjoying every bite, Mom was amazed at his energy and clarity. She said, "Jack, do you realize you almost died three times?" 

And Dad looked at her with a twinkle in his eye and said, "You have the darndest luck!" 

Dad left quite a legacy. A son who went into the ministry (after years of resisting the call). Another son who is known throughout the state as a hard-working, honest businessman. A daughter who became a nurse, earned her PhD, and is now a professor at UNCG. 

And then there are the men and women who have gone into full-time Christian service under Dad's influence. 



This is a picture of Dad and me in 1992. We're standing in front of the chapel at Lake Junaluska, waiting to process into Stuart Auditorium, where Dad would assist in my ordination as an Elder in the United Methodist Church. 

There are two more pictures exactly like this one hanging in Dad's study: One is of John Franklin Howard, now the Senior Pastor of Central UMC in Asheboro. The other is of Gene Richardson, who is now deceased. 

What a legacy. 

At least eight men and women who have gone into full-time Christian service under Dad's influence. Possibly more. Four of these will be speaking at his memorial service. Five if you count me. 

Dad wrote a book!  You can download it on Amazon.
His sister Jane helped him do this, and she asked several of us to write our own remembrances of Dad to be included in the book. Here's a portion of mine: 


Some of my earliest memories of Dad are of watching him minister at Cokesbury Methodist Church in Charlotte. I can still see him standing behind the pulpit in his black robe. I hear his deep voice booming through the sanctuary. His delivery was authoritative and animated. Sometimes he would speak so loud his face would turn red; at other times his volume would drop to just above a whisper. I was in awe. That’s my daddy!



One time Dad came to visit my preschool class during Vacation Bible School. When he entered the room, the teacher and all the other kids were so excited. The preacher had come! After he talked with the other kids he knelt down and called me over to him. We horsed around—he tickled me, and I pretended to squirt him with shaving cream. All the other kids laughed and giggled with glee. I was so proud, because their preacher was my daddy.


The summer before eighth grade I went to Boy Scout camp for a week. I had a bad case of homesickness. I would go off in the woods by myself and cry. In the middle of the week, there was a Parents’ Night, in which the parents came and shared a meal with us boys. I pulled my dad aside and told him how homesick I was. I started to cry. And I’ll never forget what happened next: Dad started to cry, too! He went to the scout leaders and demanded to know why I was so unhappy. Dad said he was willing to take me home, but he also wisely suggested that I would feel better about myself later if I stayed and finished the week. I bit my lip and decided to stick it out. 


The next evening around dinner time, I was blown away when my dad showed up at camp carrying a sleeping bag. He had come to be there so I wouldn’t be homesick! And he was so cool about it. Rather than let on why he was really there, he announced that the scoutmaster “needed some help.” He stayed in the scoutmaster’s tent, not mine, and he didn’t hover over me, but his presence in the camp gave me the strength I needed to finish the week. Dad’s act of compassion touches me deeply to this day.


In high school I moved into my “rebellious preacher’s kid” phase. Dad and I didn’t always get along during those days. I remember us having some pretty intense “discussions.” But I also remember him coming to school to take up for me when I got in trouble with the attendance office. I remember Dad sacrificing time (and perhaps his dignity!) to take me to events that he probably didn’t enjoy, such as an Elton John concert or a midnight showing of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” And I remember Dad meeting with school officials to make sure they dealt with a serious incident: a kid on my bus route had assaulted me while I was letting students off the bus.


By the time I left for college I got over my rebellion and made a strong commitment to the Christian faith. I was beginning to feel a call to the ministry, and Dad (as you can imagine) supported and nurtured that call. It was an awesome thing to travel with Dad and Mom on the Scandinavian Caravan. My wife Lorie and I met at the interview, and we fell in love on this trip. It was also a great opportunity to minister alongside my Dad. Back at home, Dad gave me plenty of opportunities to preach at his church. 


I’ll never forget a funny incident from those days. We were living in Boger City. There was a Harris-Teeter right across the street from our house. If we were only picking up a few things, we would usually just walk over. One day Dad was driving home from the hospital, and he stopped at the Harris-Teeter for some milk. He then absent-mindedly walked home with the milk, leaving his car in the store parking lot. The next morning we all awoke to Dad running into the house yelling, “Call the sheriff! Somebody’s stolen my car!” My sister, who worked at the Harris-Teeter, woke up and said, “Dad, nobody stole your car. It’s sitting in the parking lot of the Harris-Teeter where you left it yesterday!” 


During my senior year of college I started applying to seminaries. As a Carolina student, I really didn’t want to go to divinity school at Duke. Dad, of course, didn’t want me to go anywhere else. He kept pushing me to apply to Duke—I didn’t want to—so I finally said, “Dad, I’ll make a bet with you. If Duke can beat Carolina in the ACC Tournament, I’ll apply to Duke.” This was before Duke’s emergence as a national powerhouse—and Michael Jordan was still at Carolina. Dad wasn’t going for it: “No, I’m not taking that bet! That’s not fair!” I was surprised by his lack of confidence in his team. Usually he backs them no matter what! As it turned out, Duke’s young team featuring Johnny Dawkins and Jay Bilas pulled off an upset—and I am now a graduate of Duke Divinity School.


After divinity school, I was assigned to Charlotte, where Dad was already serving. It was great to be so near him in my first years of being a pastor. He gave me tons of advice. We made pastoral calls for each other when one of us was away. We sat together at preachers’ meetings. We attended events at each other’s churches. Once when I was really sick, Dad stepped in and conducted a very important funeral for me. The “patriarch” of one of my churches had died suddenly. Dad preached that funeral as if the man was a member of his own church. Later on, after I had started a church in Charlotte and Dad had retired, he served on my staff as “Minister of Visitation”—even though he was associate pastor at another church!
  
Starting a new church was stressful at times, and sometimes I would turn to Dad for counsel. I remember a piece of advice he gave me that I strive to follow to this day: “Try not to take yourself so seriously.” 
 
In 2000, Dad and I went on a mission trip to Cambodia. We traveled throughout that poverty-stricken, war-torn country visiting churches, encouraging pastors, and delivering gifts from churches in the US. Dad became a beloved father figure to all the members of our team. One team member nicknamed him “PBJ” for “Precious Brother Jack.” Once again, I was proud—and grateful for that significant time with my dad. 


In recent years, I have enjoyed having my dad as a guest preacher at the churches I’ve served. I’m always so proud when I introduce him. People love hearing him speak.


Something that amazes me to this day is Dad’s ability to remember names, faces, and what’s going on in people’s lives. When he talks to people he always asks about their particular situation: “How’s your mother doing? What about your brother who had surgery last month?” That’s a pastoral gift that I don’t have. 


My father is a very special man. When I grow up, I want to be just like him. 

-->

Dad and his first great grandson. James was a little over one year old at the time. 





For his 90th birthday we gave Dad and James matching Duke shirts. Look at Dad's wonderful smile!