In 1950 my husband, Charles, our four children and I moved to Kentucky for Charles to enroll in Asbury College to begin preparation for Christian ministry. Asbury was a college offering New Testament Greek for the undergraduate ministerial student. Charles's study of new Testament Greek continued while he was a student at Candler School of Theology 1954-1958.
Charles had come home just a few years earlier, after two years as a Marine in World War II. He had obtained a good paying job and we had bought a house in his home town. So this was a difficult decision.
To make it more difficult, a long time friend and neighbor of his parents, stopped him one day and said, “Charles …you are crazy to take your religion so seriously as to give up a good job and go to preaching”
But Charles had a strong sense of the Lord's call concerning this major step. Soon after coming home from World War II, he had talked about this with our pastor Rev. W.D. Spence. Rev Spence invited Charles to preach his first sermon at Mt. Tabor Methodist, a small church on the same circuit with Charles' home church.
Then Charles was offered the opportunity to serve as pastor at the small rural North Covington Methodist Church for the summer before moving to Kentucky.
Charles had a genuine love for God and people so had a good Summer as pastor at North Covington Methodist Church.
Charles had a good singing voice where he became locally "famous" singing Stuart Hamblin"s new Gospel Song, "It is no Secret What God can Do."
1. "The chimes of time ring out the news...Another day is through...Someone slipped and fell...Was that someone you? You may have longed for added strength...Your courage to renew...Do not be disheartened...For I have news for you!
Chorus: It is no secret what God can do...What He's done for others...He'll do for you...With arms wide open...He'll pardon you...It is no secret what God can do.
2.There is no night for in His light...You never walk alone...Always feel at home...Wherever you may rome. There is no power can conquer you...While God is on your side...Take Him at His promise...Don't run away and hide. Chorus:..by Stuart Hamlin
In this little small informal church, they would take up a small offering for the pastor each week. This was in the days before a printed bulletin. Nearly every Sunday, Charles had his sermon on his mind and did not think of the offering. As he would stand up and open his Bible, one of the men would remind him, "Brother Shaw, you forgot the offering."
One unforgettable happening at that first little church was on the last Sunday we were there before we were to leave to move to Kentucky for Charles to start preparing for full time ministry. An elderly women in the congregation, dressed simply in a plain cotton print dress, came up to me at the end of our last Service. She handed me an envelope and told me it was a tithe of her butter and egg money. She said she believed " The Lord has certainly called Brother Shaw to preach" and she told me she wanted to help a little.
It was five dollars! It did help more than a little. Every five dollar bill I have seen since then, even now, I see as money that has been on the Altar of God as someone's tithe. We took as our theme song; “Living by faith…In Jesus above…Trusting, confiding…in His great love.”
During his second year in college, Charles was appointed as a pastor of three small churches in Southern Ohio, the Portsmouth Conference. One of the interesting observations about the connectional church system is that a novice pastor is often the one appointed to pastor three or more churches. Later, after more experience, he is sent to only one church with an associate pastor to help.
In the Portsmouth Ohio area, at 9:30 am each Sunday we all attended and Charles conducted the service and preached at a beautiful little church in the countryside called Cedar Mills. Then on to an 11 o’clock service each Sunday at Dunkinsville and then to Jacksonville Methodist Church at 7:00 pm. The study and serious praying involved in preparing to pastor and preach three times each Sunday was an expansive and growing experience for Charles as a preacher and as a pastor.
The Dunkinsville Church owned the parsonage down the street from the church. It was a nice little cottage of 5 rooms and a path. The short cement path led to a comfortable small “outhouse.” The parsonage kitchen had a cold water foset at the sink where we had plenty of cold water when we finally learned how to prime the pump.
Each Friday afternoon after Charles’s last class at the college, we loaded up the car and made the three hour adventuresome drive to Dunkinsville.
This, plus our few weeks at North Covington was the beginning of getting to know and love many of the “salt of the earth” Christian people who make up the small church families who gather in church buildings all over our nation. I am told there is at least one Methodist Church (United Methodist since 1968) in every county in the United States.
After the Morning worship service at the Dunkinsville Methodist Church each Sunday, one family from the congregation would invite the pastor and his family to go home with them for a bountiful Sunday afternoon dinner. These dear people treated their young novice pastor and his family with love and respect and we returned the compliment. This attitude of cooperate ministry went with us throughout our active ministry in working with many talented and dedicated lay people in churches large and small.
At 7:00 each Sunday evening, we were at the Jacksonville Church for Charles to lead their weekly Sunday service. One of the unforgetable things about the Jacksonville Methodist Church was a remarkable elderly man, hard of hearing , who was determined not to miss a word of the pastor’s sermon. So when the pastor started the sermon, Brother Brown always moved up on the platform and sat next to Charles with his hand holding his ear out as close to the preacher as possible. Charles finally got used to it, but the first time Brother Brown jumped up and shouted “Amen,” his young inexperienced pastor nearly jumped out of his skin and forgot his sermon.
God bless the memory of dear old Brother Brown. Several years after leaving that student pastorate, Charles and I had an occasion to go back through that part of Ohio so took a sentimental detour to drive by Cedar Mills, Dunkinsville and Jacksonville churches,
As we neared the Jacksonville church and community, Charles said, “I wonder about old Brother Brown…he must be well over 90 now and is probably already in heaven.” Charles had hardly gotten the words out of his mouth as we looked to the left and there was the elderly Brother Brown mowing his lawn with a push mower!
It was during this time that we witnessed a miraculous answer to prayer. Our fifth child, a daughter, Deborah was born on November 14, 1951. When she was two months she became critically ill. We had taken her to a doctor in Nicholusville who told us it was just a cold.
Two days later, a doctor in Lexington told us, Debi was not likely to recover from "Double Pneumonia." We were devastated and sent word to friends, class mates and teachers, asking for prayer. We were told there was special prayer for Deborah in chapel. Later three of Charles’s classmates came to the hospital, stood with Charles at her oxygen tent crib to pray. When they opened their eyes, Deborah opened her eyes, looked up at them and began to recover.
The next September, Charles was appointed to a another student pastorate; this one in Kentucky near enough to the college for him to commute to classes. We moved from the small apartment on Asbury campus into the nice Mackville Methodist Parsonage, a nice Cape Cod style house in Mackville KY.
Charles began his Junior year at Asbury, driving the 30 miles each school day from our parsonage in Mackville through Harrodsburg to Wilmore. He preached at Mackville at 10 each Sunday and at Antioch, 5 miles away, at 11 each Sunday morning. He also preached every Sunday night alternating between the two churches. So continued preaching three times each Sunday. These dear folks also prepared meals for their pastor and his family each Sunday. We continued to serve the Mackville-Antioch circuit until graduation in May, then prepared to moved back to Georgia to pastor the Midway, Sunnyside-Vaugh churches in Griffin.
We moved into their parsonage on Ninth Street in Griffin where we lived for four years while Charles started and finished work on a master of Divinity Degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory in Atlanta. All three churches grew while Charles was their pastor. Midway Chcurch grew enough to be a station church. As I told in another post, Charles was invited back many times to preach at both Sunnyside and Midway for Homecoming and revival services. I have also been invted to preach a Homecoming service at Sunnyside and to Midway for two of their Homecoming Celebrations.
We never forgot that first little North Covington church family in Georgia, those three small church families in Southern Ohio, the two precious ones in Kentucky nor the three in Griffin Georgia who loved us as we did them and believed in the Lord and believed that the Lord could call and use even student pastors.