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Pastor's NewsLetter Column for February 2007
Bill's Bench
     As we begin a new month, I'd like to share with you the final two names on my "cloud of witnesses" list (See "Bill's Bench", The Weaver, October 2006). These two were my initial mentors in Christian ministry.

     Ronald D. Erickson was Chaplain Supervisor at Mounds-Midway Hospitals in St. Paul, MN. During the four quarters of Clinical Pastoral Education I received under his leadership, my first steps in ministering to others in Christ's name were taken. As a student at the American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, CA., I entered into a full year's internship in pastoral care. (I was glad to get away from the tear gas, barbed wire, and National Guardsmen with fixed bayonets who were camped across the street from the Seminary in the former "People's Park.")

     The day after I arrived in St. Paul on the Great Northern Empire Builder (a life-long dream), Ron and I were getting acquainted when he casually inquired whether I had ever called on anyone in a hospital. When I replied, "No", he immediately responded "Let's go make a call right now!" and we did - and so began a year of jumping into experiences and ministry settings with both feet first.

     During that year I was assigned to pre-surgical care, medical-surgical care, the bum unit, cardiac and intensive care; observed a full autopsy done at the request of a patient prior to her death; ministered to families whose loved one had died while a patient in the hospital, led a discussion group formed by 1st year nursing students at the hospital's School of Nursing; met daily with fellow interns in the program with me; and conducted Sunday worship services in the chapels of both hospital. (Plus serenading the evening switchboard operations on the organ in the Midway Hospital Chapel!)
     I think two major learnings occurred during those 12+ months for me. Namely that: 1) death and physical frailty are a part of life and not to be separated out into "special" categories unrelated to the conduct of our daily lives and 2) the greatest part of effective pastoral care is really hearing what the other person is trying to tell you - even when their words are confused, unclear or even non-existent.

     My second mentor, Rev. Al Lustie, was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ellensburg, WA, when I accepted my first call to a pastorate in Kittitas, WA. Al was an excellent pastor and congregational leader, and I was hired one day per week to call on the shut-ins that were a part of the FBC, Ellensburg family.

     From Al I gained a deep appreciation for the history of the people called Baptist, especially the different ethnic streams that flow into what is today the American Baptist Churches, USA. While being a very ecumenically oriented pastor, I think Al's love for the Baptist family gave me a security in my own faith identity that has allowed me to draw especially upon the experience of Catholics, Quakers, and Anglicans (Episcopalians) to further enrich my personal walk with Christ.

     Al was also a great student of the Bible, even ordering books from Scotland when he couldn't find what he wanted in the US. He helped me experience and realize how central the Bible is to our breed of cat called Baptist.

     While both of these men were my first professional mentors helping to form my own way of doing ministry, they were also good friends and caring shepherds who helped me grow as an individual and as a person in ministry.

   In Christ,
--Pastor Bill

First Baptist Church
22800 56th Ave. W.
Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043-3922
(425) 778-2046
firstbap@FirstBaptist-MtlkTerr.org
©2004-2007
Last Modified
25 April 2007
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