We celebrated 48 years together June 26. It was a relaxing observance as we enjoyed a meal at Red Robin and a day of movies here at home.
Sunday, June 30, I officially left the ministry at Camelback Christian Church in Scottsdale. No more 554 mile round trip weekends. Friend and Board Chairman Bill Moss read the following at the conclusion of Sunday's services:
- Mapquest reveals the distance between Palm Springs and Scottsdale at 277 miles (one-way). Over the 6 year tenure, that would equal 166,200 miles
- Figuring an average of 25 mpg that would be 6,648 gallons of gas.
- On average 55 oil changes or 275 quarts of oil.
- 3 1/3 sets of tires.
- Driving an average of 60 mph, you get 9.25 hours per round trip or 462.5 hours per year or 2,775 hours in a car (that is 115 complete 24 hour days in a car).
For putting up with me cooped up in a car for 115 days Delores received a lovely framed certificate marking the accomplishment. The church gave me a framed plaque complete with a chunk of asphalt from the original Route 66 commemorating the road travel.
The congregation also gave us a more than generous love offering. We've always known the level of their generosity exceeded that of many larger congregations. They proved it this time around, too.
Looking back over the six years with Camelback there are many meaningful memories:
- I remember how foolish I thought they were to call me as their minister when I lived so far away.
- I remember how fun it was to listen to and attend board meetings. Yes, there was laughter and good will displayed nearly every meeting and it always amazed me how freely they gave to missions and to those in need.
- I remember how the whole church stood by me when I needed heart valve surgery and was incapacitated for five months. The church supported us with prayers, cards, the salary, and paid a supply preacher during the months I could barely function.
- I remember how quickly a congregation of less than 80 people raised $55,000 to resurface a parking lot badly in need of repair.
- I remember with equal amazement how quickly the funds came for remodeling the worship center with updated lighting, new lighter paint, a new sound system, and replacing the chairs.
- I remember how faithfully the leaders came together for training, discussion, and setting goals.
- I remember with joy the marriages and with sorrow the funerals observed during those years.
- I remember the support given the Christian Restoration Conferences we held and the Family Camps we enjoyed.
- I remember a few times when Delores and I could spread peanut butter and jelly making sandwiches for the Phoenix Mission.
- I remember generous families providing financial support for a young woman who needed help.
- I remember raising funds to send a Cuban refugee back to Cuba so he could spend his last few days with his family before his death.
There are so many more and I know I'll forget some here and there. Oh, there were a few bad times, too. The good memories so outweigh the bad that they are insignificant by comparison. There are too many to list those who provided encouragement and support along the way.
I do have to mention Dr. Joe Carson Smith, though. Joe and I share a birthday June 2. Many great men were born on that day. Largely unappreciated my many younger leaders, Joe Carson Smith has been a pillar and buttress of the truth (see 1 Timothy 3 in the ESV). His and Barbara's verbal and active support meant so much over the years. Some see Joe as a rigid hard man but I know him as a man with a big heart and a love for the Lord and the Lord's church I wish his critics exhibited. He has done much for me. He has done much for Camelback Christian Church. He has done much for the Kingdom of God.