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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
              Monday, October 22 2001 

Memoirs—loving and leaving the ministry

Continuing last week's answers to questions about my earlier career in the ministry....Did you love the ministry, and do you miss it?

The ministry I was given seemed ideally suited to my interests and aptitudes. Within a month or two after joining the Christian Beacon as its editorial manager, I was able to revamp its staid appearance, adding color ink and "opening it up" to a more youthful audience, its circulation jumping in a short time from around 30,000 subscribers to over 100,000 (I don't mean to pretend that was all or even mainly my doing; the ministry it served was cresting, with half-hour broadcasts on as many as 600 stations five days a week, probably the largest religious radio outreach of the era and possibly in history.)

After four years, I completed two full academic years in seminary and my final undergraduate year to earn my BA and get ordination in the Presbyterian denomination in which I was already working. Besides editing the weekly paper, I was working as public relations director of its Bible Conference in Cape May, New Jersey, and was able to pay for my college expenses by playing the same role for my college (the president of which was, conveniently, my boss at the paper). I was elected to the International Board of International Christian Youth in my first year in New Jersey and after several years succeeded the man who invited me to come to work in his father's ministry as the youth organization's overall chairman. Just before turning 26, I married an "older" student in an English class I taught as a substitute faculty member in the same college the year after taking my degree.

The marriage was doomed from the day we made our vows, and I decline to say much about it as it would be talking about the mother of my children. Always the optimist, I tried to believe it could be turned around and, to my own surprise, was able to keep it cobbled together for 14 years. But a major component in that was leaving the East Coast to take an offer on the West Coast to distance ourselves from family, in the hope that that would make us more dependent on each other and less inclined to separate. My independent campus ministry on the West Coast was not nearly as stable, however, as my Christian Beacon job, and most of our 14 years were lived "hand to mouth." That's not that unusual among young missionaries, which is how we supported ourselves and the ministry, which published magazines distributed on campuses all over the United States, developed and presented curriculum materials, and courses in colleges and churches.

In those years, we added three children to the family and spent four years at the University of California Santa Barbara, and the next 10 at Stanford. I had chosen to move to Stanford somewhat reluctantly, but thought the more marked change of seasons further north in California would be welcomed by my wife, who hated Santa Barbara's year-round near-uniform perfect climate. That did prove true, but even more important for me was that the ministry was much better suited for Stanford than the more laid-back playboy milieu at UC Santa Barbara. The ministry grew steadily. The marriage, despite the family growth, did not flourish, however, and my wife finally sued for divorce in 1983. When all efforts to reconcile failed, I resigned the ministry, believing that divorced ministers are an oxymoron and forbidden by Bible and church tradition.

Do I miss it? For the next three years I could not go to the Stanford campus, though I was still working nearby, because it was too depressing. It took about 10 years to get over losing my ministry and really feel like I was getting on with life again.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Answers to computer class test questions in a South Carolina High School (series):

Crash When you go to Junior's party uninvited

Diskette - Female disco dancer.

Fax - What you lie about to the IRS.

Hacker - Uncle Leroy after 32 years of smoking.

Internet - Where cafeteria workers put their hair.

Keyboard - Where you hang the keys to the John Deere.

Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the day

Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.

—Henry Ford

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