LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION COLUMN FOR
August 15, 2015 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129
Today (August 10) is my birthday and I feel I should say something profound about the meaning of life or at least thank my God for the longevity he has permitted. My sister who is ten years younger than me sent a card saying that although we differed on some matters we are at least agreed that I am very old. The card was not quite that polite in its language. My stepson sent a card with a line of rabbits on the front. Inside it said, “Sorry. The last thing you probably want to see in another receding hare line.”
I am grateful to God that he has permitted me to serve him over many years. In case you are wondering, I was born in Philadelphia in 1931, during the Great Depression. I was the only one of five children that was born in the hospital. I’m sure it was my mother’s father that arranged it. I was born at Hanneman Hospital in Philadelphia.
I received an invitation on Face Book this morning asking if I would befriend Erick Cook. I baptized Erick in the Jordan River in Israel in 1990. I am not real adept at remembering dates, but it was the year of the passion play in Oberammergau, Germany. The tour was to see the passion play and proceed to Israel for the second half of the tour.
Erick was a teen at the time and had not been baptized. It occurred to me prior to leaving Armstrong County that he might want to be baptized in the Jordan. In Baptist congregations it is the congregation that baptizes believers into the membership of the local assembly. It is not the prerogative of a clergyman, but at the vote of the fellowship that baptisms are authorized. I said nothing to Erick, but before leaving I asked the Board of Deacons if they would authorize me to baptize Erick if he should request it. This was a contingency plan. Nothing was said to Erick.
As it turned out Erick did request baptism in the Jordan, since the baptismal site is a regular stop on the tour. I waited until Erick was in the water before informing him that his baptism was authorized by his congregation, and that it was my privilege to baptize him into the membership of the Franklin Union Baptist Church in Worthington.
I don’t know if Erick remembers that occasion as vividly as I do, but it is one of those stories I love to tell.
We are in the process of searching for a new senior pastor here in Tampa. The final question we are using in the interview process is, “What would you want your legacy to be in any congregation you pastor?” On my birthday I ask the question of myself. I think my answer would be from I Corinthians 4, where the Apostle Paul says, “It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” Some translations render the Greek as “faithful.” There is nothing particularly profound in this. However, I would hope that in the end the verdict would be that I did the job the Almighty assigned me.
I remember with fondness and joy the time spent as Pastor of Franklin Union in Worthington. The steeple, the stained glass windows, but most of all the growth in individual lives, including myself, are memorable.
I will be in New Jersey for the next few weeks. If I can get to a computer I’ll try to write a column. If one does not appear, if God wills, I’ll be back in a few weeks.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org). END-whs