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September 5, 2015 by William H. Scarle Jr. 813-835-0129


Last Sunday morning I was privileged to preach at my daughter’s congregation in Belmar, NJ. The church was celebrating her twentieth year as Pastor of this Jersey Shore congregation. The service andluncheon following was to be a surprise for Pastor Grace. I think she suspected something was up. However, she did not know exactly when it was going to happen. It was a delightful day. Grace has a very deep connection with her flock. They are not happy with any thoughts of her leaving Belmar.

This article could not be written any sooner than this because of the hope that Grace would be surprised. She reads all my articles, as I read all of her weekly posts.

There were many kind words spoken following the luncheon. Pastors do not often stay with their congregations as long as Grace has served Calvary Baptist Church of Belmar. I served at Salem, New Jersey for fifteen years. Long pastorates have been my pattern and Grace has done me one better.

Belmar has largely recovered from hurricane Sandy. That event devastated the Jersey Shore, including Belmar. Grace had been Pastor of Calvary since September of 1995 so she had served for about 17 years when Sandy struck. She was the only Pastor that had been serving long enough to know the community well and those in official positions. That made it inevitable that she would have a major role in the recovery efforts.

I mention this because the Pastors of both the Presbyterian and Methodist churches attended the luncheon following their own services to offer a word of thanks and appreciation both to the congregation of Calvary and Grace for their help following the inundation which seriously damaged their buildings.

For a considerable time following the hurricane Calvary had five congregations meeting together for worship. The church building is seven blocks from the ocean and the storm came in only about five blocks. Belmar also has a lake and a river surrounding the town, so the water was everywhere.

Grace began her ministry in September of 1995. That was about the time I retired from the pastorate to undertake some other ministries in the educational field. She was serving Calvary as an interim pastor atthe time. The congregation appreciated her work to the extent thatthey sought a way to call her permanently. Usually that is not an acceptable practice, but that’s another story.

I will be returning to Tampa at the end of this week. These have beensome refreshing days with my youngest. I hope my readers willforgive a grateful father’s ramblings about his children. I am thankful to God that he has given me three children who are all in his service at some level.

The Torah teaches, “Here, O Israel: The Lord our God is one. Love theLord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with allyour strength. These commandments that I give you today are to beupon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about themwhen you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you liedown and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them to your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

The home is the incubator of heaven. However, the response of the realist to God’s blessing on the children is not pride, but gratitude. In everything give thanks.

(BillScarle can be contacted at END-whs