Sunday, September 03, 2017

Sept. 3, 2017, column:
Folks from Texas Panhandle join trip to Oxbridge
By Mike Haynes
            Two of the most beautiful places on the planet are settings for some of the most enlightening intellectual encounters in the world.
            The rising spires of Oxford University and the shining river flowing next to Cambridge University both stir thoughts and emotions in the minds of students, faculty and visitors to those ancient English towns.
            For 10 days this summer, scores of men and women soaked up academic and spiritual refreshment in those surroundings at the C.S. Lewis Foundation Summer Institute, popularly known as Oxbridge.
             And four Amarillo area people were instrumental in making Oxbridge happen.
The technical team for the 2017 C.S. Lewis Summer Institute at Oxford and
Cambridge, England, included three men from Great Britain, two from
Colorado and from the Amarillo area, George Hutcheson, lower left;
Randy Ray, lower right; Ryan Putman, center; and Kirk Manton, second
from right in back row. (Photo by Lancia E. Smith for the C.S. Lewis Foundation)
            
          The event occurs once every three years, and the 2017 edition explored the theme, “Irrigating Deserts and Cultivating Gardens: Pursuing Calling with Purpose and Hope.” The topic came from something the renowned scholar and Christian writer C.S. Lewis wrote in “The Abolition of Man” in 1943:
  “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments.”
            That statement fits well with Lewis’ consistent encouragement of imagination, which the C.S. Lewis Foundation also does. “Advancing the renewal of Christian thought and creative expression” is part of the foundation’s mission, and those who attend Oxbridge rub elbows for a week and a half with scholars, clergy, musicians and artists – half while staying in rooms of St. Catherine’s College at Oxford and half at Cambridge’s Robinson College.
            Amarillo has had a presence at several of the triennial Oxbridge events. As he has before, Trinity Fellowship staff member, poet and photographer Kirk Manton headed up the 2017 volunteer technical team that also included Randy Ray, a West Texas A&M University communication faculty member; Ryan Putman of Amarillo and George Hutcheson of Dallas and formerly of Amarillo. In 2011, Amarilloan Daniel Innis assisted Manton at Oxbridge.
Longtime CSL Foundation volunteer and writer Nan Rinella has helped with Oxbridge and other foundation events but wasn’t able to make it to England this summer.
“This work has afforded me the opportunity to serve God in ways I never would have thought possible,” Manton said. “I have been able to combine three of the great passions of my life: my love of serving God with my technical skills related to lighting, sound and video, my joy of seeing my friends get the opportunities to travel and fulfill their dreams of exploring the life and locations associated with C.S. Lewis and our rich Christian heritage in England, as well as feed my love for the academic life focused on the mind and imagination, integrated with a deep faith and spiritual renewal.”
Some of that Oxbridge renewal from July 24 to Aug. 3 was inspired by speakers such as author Larry Crabb; Helen Mitchell, who writes about faith and work; Stan Mattson, founder of the CSL Foundation; and Walter Hooper, who was C.S. Lewis’ personal secretary in the last months of Lewis’ life in 1963.
Artists included Malcolm Guite, an Anglican priest, a fellow of Girton College at Cambridge, a poet and founder of the rock band, Mystery Train; the Ad Deum Dance Company from Houston; and the City of Oxford Orchestra.
Those men and women were only a few of the speakers and artists on the program.
The Amarillo technical crew was joined by three British men and two from Colorado. They were working but also got to experience much of the institute.
“I loved my time at Oxbridge,” said Ray, a Pampa native. “For those of us who have a deep appreciation for C.S. Lewis, it provided a chance to get to know this hero of the faith better.
“I walked Addison’s Walk, where Lewis made his conversion to Christianity. I saw where he taught at Oxford and Cambridge. I went to the local pubs where he met with his colleagues (including J.R.R. Tolkien, the “Lord of the Rings” author). I even had the unique privilege of spending the night in his bedroom at his home, the Kilns.
“Those few days of walking in his steps made a profound impact on me.”
The CSL Foundation owns the Kilns, where Lewis and his brother, Warnie, lived even after Lewis left Oxford to teach at Cambridge.        
            The academic setting might sound daunting to some, but according to the foundation’s website, cslewis.org, Oxbridge “is for anyone interested in the theme,” whether they are laypeople, professors, business people, clergy, students or teachers.
            “What is common is a love of faith, learning, fellowship and the arts.”
            If those criteria apply to you, I suggest saving up for Oxbridge 2020.
                                                            

Sunday, July 30, 2017

July 30, 2017, column:
By Mike Haynes
            My grandfather, John C. Haynes, died at age 95. I’m not sure what were the last things he counted, but he was well aware of numbers.
            Grandad, as we called him, could do math in his head faster than I could turn on a calculator. He taught his grandkids how to count to 20 in Spanish. And milestones were a big deal to him.
            He had been a Gulf Oil distributor, a rancher and a mayor, but he also learned much when, as a young man, he worked in area banks. He recalled the day when Charles Goodnight came in to his office – I believe in Pampa – to sign some paperwork.
John C. Haynes

            From his bank experience, Grandad passed on to us how to properly fold a business letter and how to keep good records. And he did plenty of record-keeping in his head.
            We joked about all his 50-year-old stories, but his memory was impressive. He knew how many acres were donated to build the McLean golf course in 1927; the number of miles covered by the Bunion Derby, the 1928 race from Los Angeles to New York that crossed the Texas Panhandle and included football legend Red Grange; and of course, the number of bulls and heifers that were branded on the ranch each summer.
            He also counted inconsequential things such as pieces of baling wire he picked up around the barn and the white strings that were pulled from tow sacks. After he lost most of his sight, Grandad did a lot of walking – and he counted his steps. He could tell you how many paces it was from our house to his pasture two miles away.
            He was curious. He would ask an adult grandchild, “Well now, honey, how much do you weigh these days?”
            And those milestones. He wanted us to know about his 50th year in the Masonic Lodge, the same for the Lions Club, his charter membership in the Methodist Church and that he had moved as a child from Missouri to Texas in 1909.
            Noticing significant events extends to my parents’ generation. My mother played the organ at church for three decades. At age 86, Dad just got his second hole-in-one with a seven-iron on the eighth hole at that McLean golf course.
            So you can see where I got the urge to note a small milestone this month. I have just passed 20 years of writing this column. I had done columns for the Amarillo Globe-News since 1991, but in 1997 then-executive editor Cathy Martindale asked me to write for the new Beliefs and Ethics section, later renamed the Faith section. I leaped at the chance.
             I suppose my two main goals have been variety and a positive attitude. As I told my Amarillo College journalism students, an opinion column can be many things, and I’ve tried to fill this space with different types of writing.
Topics have included the role of religion in “Star Wars,” the Kairos prison ministry, the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, differences between evangelical and mainline Protestant churches, a local woman who became a synagogue cantor, a nun who graduated from AC, styles of music and dress at church, a visit to Wesley Chapel in London, intelligent design, a rodeo ministry, Hollywood’s treatment of religion, Franklin Graham’s 2000 festival at Dick Bivins Stadium – and many mentions of my hometown; my family; travels with my wife, Kathy; and Christian writer C.S. Lewis.
I’ve managed to find religion angles for the Beatles, “Downton Abbey,” Travis’ 1836 letter from the Alamo, author Harper Lee and area Indian battles.
I get the most positive feedback when I write about personal, nostalgic and local topics such as Christmas Eve services or the passing on of family or friends. But I also like to touch on history, theology, compelling books and inspiring people.
            All along, I’ve kept in mind column No. 1, in which I recalled a talk by Philip Yancey. The best-selling author had said that many Christians are satisfied with good intentions rather than effectively competing in a creative way with destructive trends in popular culture. And I quoted the late writer Bob Briner:
“… there’s a better way to do something about it than simply preach against it. The best way to stop the spread of evil is to replace it with something good.”
I want to keep documenting and commenting on people, places and events in a way that shows the truth and rewards of the Christian message.
Grandad died a few months after that first religion column. And not that anyone’s counting, but this is column No. 397.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

July 23, 2017, story:
Navigating business and faith

New Amarillo baseball owner also heads up Christian group


By Mike Haynes
            Amarillo and Texas Panhandle residents know D.G. Elmore as the face of the Elmore Sports Group, which plans to move the AA San Antonio Missions baseball team into Amarillo’s future $45.5 million baseball stadium in 2019.
            Elmore certainly is a leader in sports business as well as heading up travel, food and other enterprises. But ballpark crowds and wheeling and dealing aren’t the only priorities for the 59-year-old Indiana resident. He also puts great importance on one-on-one interactions where the topic is a little more lofty.

D.G. Elmore
           He’s chairman of the U.S. board of directors of the international Christian organization the Navigators, and he’s as comfortable talking about making disciples as he is about making profits.
            “I came to faith in high school through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” he said in a July 11 interview. The spiritual growth of Elmore and his wife, Gini, grew when they got involved in couples Bible studies in college.
            “We had been walking with Christ a number of years, but it was through the Navigators ministry at Indiana University that we learned how to really become practical disciples, how to walk with Jesus,” he said.
            The Navigators have been around since the 1930s, when young Californian Dawson Trotman took 2 Timothy 2:2 to heart and began a ministry of teaching Christian basics to others, who would pass on the teachings in a chain of personal relationships. The international headquarters are in Colorado Springs.
            Elmore said the organization complements local churches. “We come alongside people and help them grow in a one-on-one relationship which supplements what the church does,” he said. “The Navigators has zero interest in being a church.”
            Locally, Mitch and Jaylene Williamson lead the Navigator ministry at West Texas A&M University. Bruce and Rosie Das, who started the WT group, still head up Navigator Bible studies in the area. Amarillo College had a group sponsored by David Ziegler until Ziegler retired from AC last year.
D.G. Elmore speaks at a June news conference
announcing the new Amarillo baseball team.
(Photo by Michael Schumacher/Amarillo Globe-News)
            Elmore has been U.S. board chairman since 2011. He is just the fourth person in the position, having succeeded 80-year-old Jerry White, a retired Air Force major general, author and still a nationally competitive handball player.
            “Our DNA is about making disciples and doing it one-on-one,” Elmore said. “It’s not events. It’s not large groups. It is meeting with people over coffee, it’s meeting with people for a meal, talking about where they’re at in their relationship with Christ.”
            Fans of the new Amarillo baseball team or patrons of other events at the stadium won’t necessarily see overt displays of the Christian message, although Elmore said most of his company’s other ballparks have a “faith night” along with other special promotions.
            “We’ll be looking for all sorts of entertainment to go along with baseball,” he said. “Certainly Christian acts would fall in line with that. When we had our team in Birmingham, we partnered up with an evangelist, we’d bring in a Christian band, and usually if there was a player who was a really strong follower of Christ, they would give their testimony.
            “In other cases, it’s much more low key, where faith night is one night where we’re trying to get a bunch of the churches to come out and generally have a Christian band playing afterwards or before.
            “Whether it’s a church group from a smaller community in the Panhandle or a larger church in Amarillo, we want every night to be one of those nights where they’re going to feel like this is a great event and a good time to be together.”
            Over a baseball season, however, Elmore said the plan is for everyone to feel comfortable, whatever their beliefs. For those interested, beer will be sold at the games.
            “All of minor league baseball is about family-friendly, affordable entertainment,” he said. “We want to bring that for everybody. We’re trying to create that type of environment that anybody and everybody can have a great time enjoying an evening at the ballpark.
            “I think it’s going to be awesome in Amarillo and in the Panhandle.
            “Our desire is to serve and care for and love our fans in the way that we believe a follower of Christ should care for a community. Whatever religion, non-religion, if they feel cared for and served, that’s fine. I think that’s how Christ really wants us to operate in society: to communicate love and care for people wherever they’re at.”
            Elmore isn’t new to Texas or Amarillo. His law and master’s degrees are from Indiana University, but his bachelor’s degree is from SMU in Dallas. His freshman roommate was from Amarillo. But his base is Bloomington, Indiana, where he helped start a local group 25 years ago called Men’s Life.
             “It was started before all the churches had men’s groups, before Promise Keepers,” he said. “We currently have a quarterly men’s luncheon where we bring in a guest speaker to share how their faith in Christ interacts with the world they live in, whether it’s in Congress or in business or in medicine, how that all connects.”
            Elmore said Amarillo baseball fans won’t see Christian banners hanging in the new stadium. “If there are people who have zero interest in Christ, I just want them to have the aroma of Christ when they come into our ballpark,” he said. He paraphrased the advice attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Always preach Christ, and only if necessary, use words.”
            “That’s how I see helping people move toward Jesus – how I love them and how I serve them – not by handing them a tract, not by hanging a cross up. I want them to say, ‘There’s something different about that guy.’”
           
           



Sunday, June 25, 2017

June 25, 2017, column:
Kentucky exhibits will stimulate your thinking
By Mike Haynes
            On vacation in the “hollers” of eastern Kentucky, in the heart of Hatfield-McCoy feud country, you wouldn’t expect to see a world-class archeological exhibit from Israel.
            Yet that’s exactly what Kathy and I toured this summer in Pikeville, Kentucky.
Khirbet El-Maqatir Exhibit Director
Tommy Chamberlin displays potsherds
at least 2,000 years old at the York House
in Pikeville, Kentucky, this month.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)
            We were interested in how Kathy’s mom, Peggy, is kin to the McCoys – by marriage, it turns out. And cousin Joey took us on a fun and fascinating survey of Hatfield-McCoy sites, including the location of the “hog trial” that escalated the violence.
            But in the restored 1870s York House, two doors down from the final home of feud participant Randolph McCoy, we saw artifacts that were quite a bit older than the house.
  
          A brick, about a foot square, from Nebuchadnezzar’s temple in Babylon was one of hundreds of items in a temporary exhibit in this university town of 7,300 people. On the brick, dated about 570 B.C., is a cuneiform inscription of the biblical king’s name.
            We saw a “tear-catcher,” maybe three inches high, from 2,000 years ago. The ancients used the little glass bottles to capture their tears – sometimes to place in tombs to honor the dead.
              We got to hold in our hands a couple of items, including sling stones from the Roman era but similar to those of King David’s time 1,000 years before. These stones were up to tennis ball size and heavy; it’s easy to see how much damage they could have done to Goliath’s forehead at more than 100 mph.
            Most of the artifacts, on display at least until late summer, are from digs at the Khirbet El-Maqatir site north of Jerusalem, which has yielded material from four time periods. The latest artifacts are from a Byzantine monastery (A.D. 375-525), and the oldest date to a Bronze Age fortress (1500-1406 B.C.)
Archeologists with the Associates for Biblical Research
estimate that this sling stone is from the Roman period
in Israel, or about 2,000 years old.It’s on display
at the Khirbet El-Maqatir Exhibit in Pikeville, Kentucky.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)
            Exhibit Director Tommy Chamberlin told us that archeologists with the Associates for Biblical Research believe the site not only may be the location of the Old Testament city of Ai, conquered by Joshua, but also the New Testament village of Ephraim. John 11:54 says Jesus “withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his
disciples” before entering Jerusalem for his trial and crucifixion.
            So Kathy and I may have handled some pottery sherds that Jesus or his followers touched. Probably not, but maybe.
            The enthusiastic Chamberlin was leaving days later for another dig in Israel, but we had more history in store right there in Kentucky. After the family visit near Pikeville, Kathy, Peggy and I made a stop at the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter in northern Kentucky, near Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Ark Encounter near Williamstown, Kentucky
is a complete museum with three decks of exhibits.
The full-size Noah’s Ark between Cincinnati, Ohio,
and Lexington, Kentucky, is 510 feet long,
85 feet wide and 51 feet tall.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)

            Again, we were pleasantly surprised. I’ll admit, I didn’t expect Disney-like quality from the two Christian attractions, but that’s what we got, from first-rate animations depicting the biblical flood to the 510-foot-long ark built to the specs of Genesis.
            Whether you believe the literal interpretation of Genesis as the museum and ark creators do, both sights – at separate locations 45 miles apart – are worth the admission fees. The museum has beautiful, Universal Studios-worthy depictions of the Garden of Eden plus an outdoor petting zoo and much more. The red serpent certainly is creepy.
Noah lets a dove go through a skylight in this
static display inside the Ark Encounter
near Williamstown, Kentucky.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)
            The ark is basically a three-floor walking museum showing what it might have been like for Noah, his family and all those animals living for a year on the immense vessel. Hundreds of pottery jugs, wooden cages and lifelike animals fill in details left out in the biblical account.
            Of course, the modern version is air-conditioned and has plenty of restrooms – and a gift shop, of course.
            Plus, it includes dinosaurs; but even if you’re skeptical that those reptiles and humans lived at the same time, this ark is worth seeing.
            Before guests exit either the Creation Museum or the ark, they have a chance to read wall displays tying in the entire Christian narrative from creation to the story of Jesus and how it applies today.
            Cousin Joey recalled how his aunt never wanted to leave the steep hills of eastern Kentucky. She would place her hands in a V-shape, indicating those hills on each side of her “holler,” and say that in that valley, she felt safe in the hands of God.

            Whatever your specific beliefs about the Creator, Kentucky offers plenty of opportunity to stimulate your thinking. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

May 21, 2017, column: 'Just call me Jerry'

AC's Bible Chair director to retire this month
By Mike Haynes
            Jerry Klein’s devout mother made sure he was raised in the church, but with a father who went to the mountains on Sundays, Klein was confused about religion when he enrolled at Cameron College in Lawton, Oklahoma, in 1965.
            The recent Walters High School graduate took an Old Testament class because his friends were taking it, and he soon tried out the Bible Chair at Cameron.
            “Going to campus ministry and being surrounded by college students who really wanted to be there – we weren’t there because mama made us go,” he said. “The sincere faith of so many of them was really what made the biggest difference in my life – just seeing that faith in action made me want to be a part of it.”
Jerry Klein teaches a class
at Amarillo College.
(Photo courtesy
The Ranger/Amarillo College)

            So much so that Klein, 69, is retiring this month as director of the Amarillo Bible Chair at Amarillo College, closing a long career bookended with college ministry.
            Another influence has been Gene Byrd, who taught that Cameron Old Testament class and many years later was Klein’s boss at AC as vice president and dean of instruction.
            “Sitting with him at the student union, he asked us all kinds of questions about ourselves, and he helped me believe I could get through college and become a college teacher and major in Bible and philosophy and could figure out what I believed and maybe figure out myself,” Klein recalled.
            After graduating from Cameron (then a junior college, now a university) in 1967, he completed a bachelor’s degree in Bible and philosophy at Oklahoma Christian University in 1969. He met his wife, Janie, there. “I graduated from Oklahoma Christian, but the best thing that happened to me there was finding her,” he said.
            The newlyweds moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where Jerry earned a master’s in theology in 1974 at the Harding University graduate school. His first job was as a Bible Chair director at Henderson State University in Arkansas, and since then he has been a preacher, a church staff member, a professor and that first love, a college ministry leader – including two stints at AC beginning in 1982.
            About preaching, he said, “That was not me.” He believes he was OK, but because of his student experience at Cameron, leading a Bible Chair “is all I really wanted to do.”
            Plenty of people think he made the right choice as he combined an intellectual mind with Christian compassion.
            “The first time I came across his name was in a footnote in a Greek grammar book,” said Jon Kohler, director since 2002 of AC’s other full-time ministry, the Bible Chair of the Southwest. “He had corrected the author. Then I came to AC, and there’s Jerry Klein.”
            In addition to leading student ministry, Klein has taught academic religion and philosophy classes and plans to continue some teaching.
            “He built the religion program at AC,” Kohler said. “His fingerprints are all over it. And he has a gentleness that invites you in.”
    
Jerry Klein (Photo courtesy
The Ranger/Amarillo College)
        Samantha Jewett, an AC counselor, has taken six religion courses under Klein. “Jerry is one of the most well-read and intelligent people I have ever met,” she said. “Yet he is so humble that this brilliant man tells his students, ‘Please just call me Jerry.’
            “He allows students to think for themselves. He inspires students to want to read and learn more. Through his teaching, he has brought me closer to God.”
            Such inspiration is not an overt part of Klein’s classes at the state-supported college. “I allow the students in my classes to express whatever point of view they want to express, and when I grade their papers, I tell them their conclusions never have to agree with mine, but their conclusions have to be reasonable,” he said. “That gives students from many different religious backgrounds an opportunity to hear other points of view.”
            Melodie Hefley, a recent Tascosa graduate and a religion major, took Klein’s Life of Christ class this spring. “He was very focused on teaching us material not just so we could pass the class but so we could get something out of it personally,” she said. “He said, ‘I’m not here to push my religion on you. I’m here to teach you so you can come to your own conclusions.’ He’s adamant about that.”
              Even at the church-supported Bible Chair across the street from campus, Klein’s approach is nurturing, not dogmatic. Painted on a wall and printed on his business card is the slogan, “A Place To Make Your Faith Your Own.”
            Through Christian club Kappa Chi, Klein has led students in meetings, devotionals, meals and retreats. “You can’t bless anybody if you can’t get them in your building,” he said, “if you can’t sit down with them in the College Union Building.” His wife Janie’s cookies have been one attraction, just one of her many support roles.
            Mural Worthey is coming from Virginia to take Klein’s Bible Chair position July 1. It will be a new era as Klein’s health issues pull him away from his dream job.
            “I’ve tried to be the best teacher I could be,” he said. “And I’ve tried to love the students, be there to encourage them and laugh with them and cry with them.
            “I found what I wanted to be, and I got to be it, and not many can look back on their life and say they did what they wanted to do right where they wanted to do it.”

Sunday, April 16, 2017

April 16, 2017, column:
Case for Christ's resurrection remains strong
By Mike Haynes
             And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (I Cor. 15:17-19, NIV)
            Plenty of people do pity those of us who believe that Jesus Christ of Nazareth died on a Roman cross, was buried in a nearby tomb, came alive again and interacted with many people for 40 days before ascending into heaven. Some just don’t buy it.

            If Jesus’ effects on us are limited to this material world, the King James Bible puts it, “we are of all men most miserable,” and the Message version says, “we’re a pretty sorry lot.”
            The physical resurrection is the foundational belief of Christianity and the historical event that followers of Christ celebrate on this Easter Sunday. C.S. Lewis wrote in his 1947 book, “Miracles,” that for the first-century disciples, to “preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection.”
            It’s a key element in the current movie, “The Case for Christ,” which recounts real-life newspaper-reporter-turned-minister Lee Strobel’s journey from atheism to faith. While the film, based on Strobel’s 1998 book of the same name, probably will draw mostly a church crowd, several reviewers have indicated it’s subtle enough to appeal to thoughtful skeptics.
            “The atheists and nonbelievers in ‘The Case for Christ’ don’t have horns and tails, or even mustaches for twirling,” wrote Steven Greydanus of the National Catholic Register. “The conflict turns on faith and unbelief, but believers and unbelievers aren’t cast as natural enemies.”
                The movie shows Strobel as a successful 1980s Chicago Tribune reporter who, when his wife becomes a Christian, sets out to bring harmony back to their marriage by proving that Christianity can’t be true. His interviewing and reporting skills result in a conclusion he didn’t expect.
 
Dr. Craig Blomberg
Denver Theological Seminary
               Strobel went on to lead the Willow Creek church in a Chicago suburb and currently is a teaching pastor at Woodlands Church in the Houston area, where he also teaches at Houston Baptist University. He followed “The Case for Christ” with several other “The Case for…” books. In “The Case for Easter,” a 95-page excerpt from the first book, he focuses on the resurrection.
                Strobel interviews experts in three areas: (1) medical evidence showing that Jesus could not have survived the cruelty of the cross, (2) the reliability of accounts that his body was missing from the tomb and (3) the evidence that Jesus was seen alive after his death.
                Some of that material is presented in the current movie.
                Another objection to the truth of Christ’s resurrection is that similar accounts exist of gods in other religions. Dr. Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary shot down that argument during an interview with Tommy Politz at Hillside Christian Church last week.
                Blomberg said the resurrection stories most similar to that of Jesus all are post-Christian. “If anybody’s borrowing from anybody, other religions in the Greco-Roman world were trying to make a way for themselves by looking like Christianity,” he said.

                “Not one of them, before or after, ever even claims that a man, known to have lived during the lifetime of people still around – there’s no question about his humanity, not some mythical character of old – was seen bodily raised from the dead.”
            Lubbock native and Houston trial attorney Mark Lanier also addresses the issue in his 2014 book, “Christianity on Trial.” Using legal arguments, Lanier shows the likelihood that the gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection are true. But he also looks at the why.
            “Christ’s death allows a just God to set aside the immorality and impurity of humanity and accord humanity a resurrection into perfection, just as Christ was resurrected. …
            “It was not some harebrained idea concocted by a few fishermen, a tax collector and a budding rabbi that somehow caught fire amid a dreadful and documented persecution, finally arriving three hundred years later as a legal religion. It was the facts – no more and no less.”

            Some Christians refer to Easter as Resurrection Day, which is fitting. For those who believe in the message of Jesus, it’s a day to rejoice not only that he defeated death, but that he did it for us, too.            

Sunday, March 19, 2017

March 19, 2017, column:
2 Panhandle authors examine spirituality
By Mike Haynes
            The Texas Panhandle may not be known as a haven for authors, but we’ve had a few good ones pop up the past 100 years or so, and two of them have notable books out now.
            One’s a novel and one’s a reference book, so they really have only one common element: spirituality.
            If you know the soil and the grass of area farms and ranches; or if you appreciate unrequited love and relationship dilemmas; or if you’re into World War II aircraft and Nazi intrigue; or if you
ponder heavy questions about God; or if you just like writing that describes all of the above in descriptive, poetic ways, you might want to try “Jesse’s Seed,” a fictional saga by Sam Pakan (late 2015, Athanatos Publishing Group).
            Pakan grew up on a ranch near Shamrock, so the introduction of his main character, David, and David’s disapproving father, Jesse, is full of sweat and hot sun and horse-training tools such as hackamores and halters. It feels accurate for the early 1940s, and it’s expressed lyrically:
            “A squeal quivered on the heavy air. David sank his ax into the cedar, turned to see a colt skitter along the road, black as tarnished silver, every line an echo of perfection.” “David pulled a rope from the saddle and tied it to an oak that held its weight like wisdom bending toward the water-smooth sand…”
            The story flows from the ranch to Army basic training to a B-17 bomber gunner’s perch to the French resistance to cat-and-mouse schemes with a Nazi officer. Baby-boomer Pakan didn’t experience the WWII details himself, but it’s obvious his research was extensive. He learned from Commemorative Air Force experts how a gunner’s knees press against Plexiglas, how a flight crew used the onboard intercom.
   
         Through it all, characters emerge that the reader cares for, which might be the key that keeps pages turning. David longs for the wife of his best friend, a minister back home. He regrets his biggest mistake. He trusts his new best friend, a soldier named Bear. And constantly on his mind is another friend, the black stallion Dancer.
            I wouldn’t call “Jesse’s Seed” a Christian book, but a good story with Christian elements. David struggles with a lack of confidence in himself and in God, and the author maintains a restrained touch as he develops questions of faith. David understands that his magnificent horse knows nothing of the divine, being satisfied with nature and freedom. “But man was born hungry for something more,” David thinks, “something that made him discontent with only what he saw and tasted and felt.”
            The only frustration with this thoughtful, suspenseful novel is that some plot lines remain hanging at the end. That’s because Pakan plans to release a sequel soon.
            Amarillo native Jason Boyett’s latest book is “12 Major World Religions” (2016, Zephyros Press), a straightforward reference work with basic facts and explanations of faiths from Christianity to Zoroastrianism.
            Boyett’s background is Christian, but he’s trained in journalism, so he has done a good job of researching and reporting in a neutral way on key aspects of all 12 religions in the book. For each religion, he includes a timeline and summarizes major beliefs, major texts, ceremonial practices and key people in that faith’s history. For example, the Judaism section briefly identifies 12 figures, from the patriarch Abraham to Golda Meir, the Israeli prime minister who died in 1978.
            The author offers brief predictions for the future, and as a bonus, he throws in sections on the ancient religions of Egypt, Greece, Rome and the Nordic region.
            Boyett has written more than a dozen books, and his style sometimes is a little irreverent and definitely chuckle-inducing, such as in his other 2016 release, “Greek Mythology: Timeless Tales from the Ancients.” This time, he sticks to the facts, but the book has a more lively style than, say, the comparative religion textbook I read in college in the 1970s.

            And it has pictures. 

Sunday, March 05, 2017

March 5, 2017, column:

Alister McGrath defends concept of God

By Mike Haynes
            One of the good things about Alister McGrath is that a couple of West Texans can understand the Oxford professor’s British accent. Another is that despite the fact McGrath has three doctorates – in molecular biophysics, theology and intellectual history – from Oxford, most of his lecture in Houston last month didn’t fly over the heads of me or my wife, Kathy.
            The best takeaway from his presentation at Lanier Theological Library, however, was the content. McGrath offered a convincing defense of the concept that there is a God. His topic was “The Big Questions: Richard Dawkins vs. C.S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life.”
            Dawkins, also an Oxford scholar and author of “The God Delusion,” wasn’t there and Lewis,
Oxford University Professor Alister McGrath speaks on the
topic, “Richard Dawkins vs. C.S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life”
Feb. 4 at Lanier Theological Library in Houston. (Photo by Mike Haynes)
another Oxford and Cambridge scholar and author of many Christian books, died in 1963. But McGrath has debated the atheist Dawkins in person, and host Mark Lanier called McGrath “the leading authority on C.S. Lewis in the world alive today.”
            I can offer only a small chip from the topic’s iceberg here, but I urge readers to watch the lecture video, which should be at www.laniertheologicallibrary.org before this month is over. An excellent video of a panel discussion involving Lanier, McGrath, two Lipscomb University professors and a Rice University astrobiologist already is online there.
            Like Lewis, McGrath was an atheist himself before changing his mind after arriving at Oxford.  “Lewis became a Christian because of his perception that it offered a better explanation of things than his atheism,” McGrath said. “Actually, that’s my story as well.
            “Dawkins takes the view that you can only believe what can be proven by reason or by science. He even says faith is a kind of mental illness. He is convinced there is something wrong with people who believe in God.”
            McGrath said Lewis, on the other hand, realized that “most of the really important things in life lie beyond rational or scientific proof” but are not irrational or unscientific.
            Evidence always is subject to interpretation, McGrath pointed out. “There are many cases where scientific evidence allows several outcomes,” he said. “Science changes, not because it’s irrational but because of this constant process of checking things out.
            “A hundred years ago, scientists had a radically different view of the origin of the universe than they do now.” McGrath said that then, a sudden beginning of the universe was considered nonsense. Now, most scientists believe in “the big bang,” a theory with which he said atheists initially weren’t comfortable.  “Science is provisional,” he said. “And it hasn’t reached its end.”
            Dawkins believes everything has a scientific explanation; McGrath said Lewis asked whether science is just “part of the picture.” McGrath used an analogy suggested by Frank Rhodes, a geology professor and former Cornell University president:
            “Imagine a kettle boiling. Why is the kettle boiling? Because there is energy being supplied, which raises the water temperature to its boiling point.” But he said there is another reason the kettle is boiling. “I wanted to make myself a pot of tea.”
            “Does the fact that explanation one is right mean that explanation two is wrong?” McGrath asked. “No! Does the fact that explanation two is right mean that explanation one is wrong? No!
Oxford University Professor Alister McGrath, right, answers
an audience question read by attorney Mark Lanier at a
lecture Feb. 4 at Lanier Theological Library in Houston.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)
            “The two explanations go together to lead to a bigger, a more reliable picture of what is actually going on. Science is part of the bigger picture, but it’s not all of the picture. They are two different answers, but answers that are complementary and not competitive.
            “We don’t want to just know how things work; we want to know what they mean. Science helps us, but there are deeper questions that science cannot answer.”
            McGrath said Christianity explains meaning, values and the difference in good and bad, while atheism is at a loss in those areas. Lewis was effective in showing the richness of faith, he said.
            “Lewis was able to offer this imaginative vision of Christianity,” he said. “By which I do not mean a made-up vision; I mean the real thing with its rich, imaginative potential, fully explained and illustrated in stories like “The Chronicles of Narnia,” which captures people’s imagination.”
            McGrath recalled Lewis’ sermon, “The Weight of Glory,” delivered at Oxford in 1941: “He says, ‘Look, our culture is spellbound by the idea that there is this world and there is nothing else. How do we break that spell? We’ve got to cast an even better spell; we’ve got to tell an even better story and show that we’ve got something to say that both captures the imagination and makes sense.”

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Jan. 29, 2017, column: Luther used 'modern' technology to spread the Reformation

Luther used ‘modern’ technology to spread the Reformation
By Mike Haynes
            The print shop was busy with men arranging type and hanging freshly inked sheets up to dry. Johann Rhau-Grunenberg’s operation in the town of a few thousand people on the Elbe River was small, but work was steady because of the new university that had been established in 1502.
            Faculty brought course materials to be printed for their students, and occasional books and pamphlets came off the presses. But after 1517, one professor in particular was a frequent visitor to the shop. He also was a writer, a monk and a preacher at the city church, and he tended to micro-manage the editing of his pages and even the look of the type and occasional illustrations.
This statue of Martin Luther stands
in front of the Frauenkirche
(Church of Our Lady) in Dresden,
Germany. Luther is credited with starting
the Protestant Reformation in 1517,
and this year will feature many 500th
anniversary observances.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)
            He was Martin Luther, and almost entirely because of his ideas and his use of the relatively new printing industry, he turned the German town of Wittenberg into the center of European printing for much of the 16th century.

           Of course, Luther was responsible for much more than that. We know him as the initial leader of the Protestant Reformation, the radical break of churches from the Roman Catholic establishment that spread quickly across Europe. That swift growth of the ideas of a little-known monk and his supporters came about because Luther understood how to use the revolutionary technology of the printing press, according to historian Andrew Pettegree, author of the 2015 book, “Brand Luther: 1517, Printing, and the Making of the Reformation.”
            Most scholars cite that year exactly five centuries ago as the start of the Reformation because on Oct. 31, 1517, a document Luther had written and that had been printed locally was posted on the door of the Wittenberg church. It was the famous “95 Theses,” his list of complaints about the church and the pope.
            No one knows whether Luther himself nailed the document to the door, which served as a bulletin board for the university. It wasn’t uncommon for faculty to post questions and comments, inviting others to debate them in public.
            In this case, rather than the ideas being relegated to a one-time discussion, they were reprinted and circulated across Germany. They included concepts such as people reading the Bible for themselves rather than relying on clergy to feed it to them; salvation by faith alone; and the rejection of abuses in the Catholic Church such as the sale of indulgences, or pardons for sins. The ideas gained traction, and within a year or two, Luther was a nationwide celebrity. Pettegree, using modern terminology, writes that Luther now had his own “brand.”
            Luther even had his own graphic artist to create a visual element for his message: Lucas Cranach, his Wittenberg neighbor who created portraits of Luther and drawings for his publications.
            The new theology and views on church organization spawned a war of words between Luther and his opponents, both in public hearings and in pamphlets and books. Pettegree’s research shows that from 1502 to 1516, Wittenberg printers published about eight books a year. From 1517 to 1546, the year Luther died, the city’s printers published an average of 91 works a year – primarily because of the dynamic monk and the controversy he stirred.
            Luther was the 16th century equivalent of a social media master. He surely would have used Twitter had it been invented, as his adversaries would have, too. In fact, some of the “95 Theses” would have fit nicely into 140 characters, such as No. 27: “They preach man-made doctrines who say that so soon as the coin jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out of purgatory,” and No. 54: “Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on the Word.”
            His cause ultimately succeeded, but in his day he had enemies as bitter as those opposing Donald Trump and his tweets today.
            Even when Luther’s life was under threat and he was holed up in Wartburg Castle, he worked on translating the Bible into German with secret messengers delivering his manuscripts to the Wittenberg presses and returning proofs for him to correct.  
            Luther again will be in the public eye in 2017 as travel agents promote visiting Wittenberg, Worms and other German cities on “the Luther trail,” and more Luther books are published. “Christianity Today” magazine’s January/February edition highlighted him on the cover with the blurb, “His Reformation Still Looks Pretty Great at 500.”
            In that magazine, Yale professor Bruce Gordon notes that Pettegree’s book presents Luther as “the first media star of the printing age” and quotes “Brand Luther”: “Print and public communication would never be the same again.”
            Neither would western Christianity.  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Dec. 25, 2016, column: Step out of your comfort zone and meet your fellow man

Step out of your comfort zone and meet your fellow man

By Mike Haynes
            As soon as I knew I would retire from Amarillo College and would have time for an early December trip, Kathy and I booked one of those Viking river cruises that you see advertised with enticing pictures and seducing words on Panhandle PBS.
            We planned it for more than a year to celebrate what I consider a significant milestone for any married couple: our 25th anniversary.
            I suppose one reason we’re compatible is that we’re perfectly happy to do things just as a pair. We don’t hate group activities, but we tend to be more comfortable, for example, watching “Poldark” on … yes, Panhandle PBS, than being “social.”
            But on a cruise, you sit with other people for three meals a day, and we’re not socially inept (at least Kathy isn’t), so over 11 days, we did manage to make some friends.
The Christmas market in Old Town Square in Prague,
Czech Republic, has the gothic Tyn Church
and baroque-style buildings as a backdrop.
The church structure dates to 1385.
(Photo by Mike Haynes)

            We certainly recommend travel, and I could write pages about the wonderful sights and sounds we experienced: the beautiful parliament building in Budapest, Hungary, that you see in the Viking commercials; four young singers recreating “Sound of Music” tunes in Salzburg, Austria; drinking apricot-like nectar at a monastery near Krems, Austria; touring artist Albrecht Durer’s 16th century house in Nuremberg, Germany; and watching the lights on a three-story tree dance to the “William Tell Overture” at the brilliant Christmas market in Prague, Czech Republic.
            Christmas certainly is on bright display in those town square markets across central Europe, although the “reason for the season” is more commercial and cultural than spiritual on a continent that gets more secular every year.
            Our trip was delightful in part because of the castles and cathedrals, sausage and trdelnik pastry, but also because Kathy and I didn’t stay in our two-person cocoon. We were reminded that people who might seem distant turn out to be just as friendly as we West Texans.
            Steve and Gina had New York accents that, if you believe the movies, are supposed to indicate … well, stereotypical New Yorkers. But guess who volunteered to lend his camera battery charger and even trusted me to mail it back to him? Steve from Long Island.
            The two gray-haired women from Pennsylvania turned out to be retired teachers with fascinating travel stories about Cuba and China – one of whom has a son in Midland, Texas.
            After venturing a conversation with another retired teacher from Missouri, we found out she grew up in Brownfield, Texas. Janice from Nashville and Lynn from Illinois take annual trips together since they retired from the insurance industry, and we got to enjoy Janice’s Tennessee accent and goodbye hugs from Lynn.
            Aleksandar, our ship’s maĆ®tre d’ from Bosnia, noticed my Dallas Mavericks shirt and was eager to inform us that we were just 100 kilometers from the German hometown of Mav star Dirk Nowitzki.
            It’s obvious, but strangers become real people when you get to know them personally. The tall man with the hat who seemed to never smile during a tour of Vienna turned into a retired mechanical engineer from St. Louis who’s been to Amarillo. The ice was broken with the cute couple from Georgia when Kathy complimented them on their attentiveness to each other.
            Maybe that’s one reason the Father sent his Son to Earth 2,000 years ago – so we could get to know him better. As Jesus experienced humanity firsthand, those people who met him in the flesh saw God directly rather than as a name on a scroll.
            Emmanuel – “God with us” – Jesus the Messiah – still is available for a personal relationship with each human being. Christianity is not a religion of just of ritual and going through motions but of a direct connection.
            We can observe God and his creation, but for the real experience, we have to initiate a conversation. We have to talk to him.  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Nov. 20, 2016, column:
Give me a break, Randy Ray!
By Mike Haynes
            Give me a break, Randy Ray!
            Let’s see: What are some of the topics that have occupied my thoughts and reading for years? Texas Tech sports. The Alamo. My hometown, McLean. C.S. Lewis. The Beatles.
            And what topics did Randy Ray choose for a class at West Texas A&M University and a follow-up trip next summer?
            C.S. Lewis and the Beatles.
            I should be teaching that class.
            OK, Ray, who teaches audio and video production, media management and media history at WT, is the one who came up with the idea. And I’m really not mad at him; I’m thrilled that someone
is taking seriously two of my main interests.
            After first thinking, “What could an intellectual Christian writer and the most famous band in the world have in common?,” I believe it makes more sense than a lot of topics taught in colleges these days.
            The title of the course – which Ray and history professor Dr. Marty Kuhlman will teach next spring, followed by a summer study abroad trip to England – is “A Hard Day’s Night in Narnia: A Study of British Influences on American Culture.”
            At first glance, the only common denominator of Lewis and the Fab Four seems to be that both were British – John, Paul, George and Ringo from Liverpool and Lewis an Oxford and Cambridge scholar. And the Beatles took off just as Lewis left us. He died on Nov. 22, 1963, the same day as John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley. That was only a few weeks before the Ed Sullivan Show appearances that brought Beatlemania to America.
            But both have had huge influences on U.S. popular (the Beatles) and spiritual (Lewis) culture.
            “Even though they’re both very British, they’re very different,” Ray said. “I want to show the polar opposites of the different kinds of British influence that we’ve gotten.
            “Lewis is unique in the way his writing is still so relevant more than 50 years after his death. I think it remains relevant because of the way he made deep thinking approachable to everyone.
            “And without doubt, the Beatles influenced popular music culture more than any other artist ever has or probably ever will. Their influence shook the entire world.”
            Although Lewis died at age 65 as the young Beatles were on the cusp of their global fame, the height of his popularity came after the 1960s reign of those purveyors of “yeah, yeah, yeah” and “Let It Be.” “Mere Christianity,” one of his most well-known adult books, and the “Chronicles of Narnia” children’s books were published in the 1950s, but it was a couple of decades later that a large number of Americans discovered them.
            Lewis has had his largest impact on American evangelicals, but his adult Christian writing also is appreciated in mainstream Protestant churches as well as Catholic circles. Lewis himself attended Holy Trinity Church, an Anglican congregation a half mile from his Oxford home, the Kilns.
            And the Narnia stories carried his influence into millions of American households. The Narnia movies that were hits from 2005 to 2010 expanded it.
            Ray said he expects 20 to 30 students in the class. So far, most of them have expressed more interest in Lewis than the Beatles. His own fascination with Lewis’ writing began in Pampa when he came home from junior high and picked up a book that belonged to his mom and dad.
            “Why do my parents have a book called ‘The Screwtape Letters’ written by some Oxford professor,” he recalled thinking.  “It was just so different. I also love the fact that with Lewis, just a little goes such a long ways. There is so much packed into every sentence. And I think that’s pretty rare in writing – to carry that much weight with every word.”
            Ray isn’t as big a Beatles fan as I am, but he has played bass in bands for years. “In the music industry, you can’t not appreciate what the Beatles did,” he said. “They were a game-changer. You cannot have a music conversation with anyone without it eventually leading to the Beatles.
            “And I don’t think you can go to any church in America without eventually hearing a C.S. Lewis quote. Anytime there’s anything out of the ordinary – the presidential election, 9-11 – people are throwing Lewis in there; what was his take on it?”
            Students in the class have reason to be excited, because the July 17-23 trip will include a tour of Lewis’ longtime home; Magdalen College, where he taught in Oxford; and the Eagle and Child pub, where Lewis and his writing friends, the Inklings, met.
            The trip also will hit the homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon and the famed Cavern Club in Liverpool and Abbey Road Studios in London.
            To paraphrase a little band from Liverpool, I know the students will be a lovely audience, and I hope they will enjoy the show.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Oct. 16, 2016, column:

Wheelers' faith: An Amarillo legacy

By Mike Haynes
            You might say that Roy Wheeler built Hillside Christian Church.
            Of course, he would say the Lord built it, and he’d be right. But consider this:
            Many years ago, Amarillo residents Jim and Laura Sims had visited Paramount Terrace Christian Church, the forerunner of Hillside, a few times. While on vacation, Jim was involved in a gas leak at the house where they were staying, and his hands were burned badly. Jim was taken to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where he was treated and began recuperating.
            Meanwhile, Paramount Terrace Senior Minister Roy Wheeler was on a church trip. While at
Roy and Elnore Wheeler
the Dallas airport changing planes, he called in to his assistant, Pat Strickland, who had heard about Jim Sims’ accident, and she told Roy about it.
            Roy skipped his connecting flight and rushed to Parkland Hospital to see this man who had been visiting the church. The relationship was strengthened, Jim recovered, and before long, Jim and Laura Sims were members of PTCC.
            Fast forward to the mid-2000s. PTCC leaders had decided to leave the location on Mays Avenue near Western Street for the corner of Hillside and Soncy and change the church’s name to reflect the move. Architect Jim Sims was the primary designer of the new building.
            The physical structure is one thing, but Roy’s visit to an injured man who wasn’t even a member of the church is just one of a multitude of personal connections he made that resulted in a small, independent Christian congregation growing into a megachurch. The senior minister from 1966 to 1999, he remained active in ministry until his health started declining. But during those 33 years, he was a go-getter.
              “I would make two or three appointments three or four nights a week for him,” Strickland recalled. “Roy would go to their homes and meet people, and many of them joined the church. They felt the love he exuded from the pulpit, plus his personal contact with them.”
            Roy and Elnore Wheeler, both turning 85 next month, quietly left Amarillo this summer almost exactly 50 years after they arrived from Missouri. Because of health issues, they moved close to their son, Rick Wheeler, who leads a church in Derby, Kan. Another son, Randy, is a minister in Michigan. Oldest son Ron preached for a while but would up doing work such as designing an operational system for Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
  
          Of course, Hillside had a going-away reception, but the Wheelers’ exit didn’t get the community attention that, for example, the late Dr. Winfred Moore did at milestones in his life. A friend told me he thinks Roy’s influence on Amarillo for half a century rivaled that of the First Baptist legend, bringing “a church that wasn’t going anywhere” into the status of a megachurch.
            Ironically, what made the megachurch was the personal touch.
            Longtime Sunday school teacher Jim McKee said his wife, Lana, remembers she always got a “Roy hug” every time he saw her. The McKees first visited PTCC in 1985, looking for “a nondenominational church that was soundly Bible-based,” Jim McKee said. “We immediately wanted to join, so Roy came to our home to speak with us and answer questions. We joined the next Sunday.”
            Another former assistant, Diana Schmidtman, and her family preceded the Wheelers at PTCC. She was a charter member in 1955. “The way he endeared himself to my family was when my brother, a jet pilot, had his plane shot down in 1968,” Schmidtman said. “Roy was just so wonderful to our family. If we didn’t like him before, we loved him after that.”
            “Roy’s idea of the church was that it’s a hospital for the hurting,” Strickland said. “It didn’t make a difference what your background was or where you came from. He loved people and wanted to tell them about the Lord.
            “If he was in the pulpit and saw somebody in the audience he didn’t know, after church he would go through the guest cards. If they didn’t fill out a card, he would tell me to find out who they were the next time.
            “He loved to know everything about everybody that he dealt with.”
            In some ways, Elnore Wheeler was a typical minister’s wife, supporting her husband and leading church activities. But she really wasn’t typical.
            “She was such a caring, people person,” Strickland said. “Her heart was in missions. If she couldn’t go, she sent money. She taught in the women’s prison, and she went to Russia several times with Roy. I think she helped in an orphanage at Chernobyl.”
            Anyone who spent much time at the church between Sundays knew Elnore’s impact.
            “We always knew Elnore to be a quiet servant,” Jim McKee said, “reaching out and helping kids and the downcast. She always worked behind the scenes. Things would get done somehow, but if you backtracked to the source, very often you would find Elnore Wheeler at the beginning.”
            Roy Wheeler has been well-known across the country, especially in independent Christian circles. He was a frequent conference speaker and in his heyday, he preached at two or three revivals a year in other churches. Strickland said he did mission work in Belarus 17 times, often with Elnore by his side. He baptized the parents of his Belarussian interpreter, Luda. He visited Jamaica many times to help minister friend Vincent Graham.  
            Roy’s fluid, measured speaking style, solidly scriptural but non-threatening, attracted thousands to the gospel – and to PTCC – over three decades. He said he favored “a positive approach to Christianity” but constantly challenged the congregation of his “undenominational” church with the idea that “God calls us all to be ministers if we’re Christians.”
            A factor in his 1999 retirement was his voice, which had begun fading with a rare vocal cord condition. But when his preaching became rare, he kept his eyes and ears open for people who were hurting.
            “There’s no one like him,” Schmidtman said. “If you were ever in trouble, he’s the one you wanted. He was a great shepherd.”
            “He was a lover of people and wanted them to know the Lord,” Strickland said.
            Roy and Elnore, those of us whom you’ve touched thank you.