Posted in memories

Connecticut memories

The first parish where I served as a pastor was Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Coventry, CT. We lived there for five years, from 1986-1991. The other day I quickly jotted down a few memories that popped into my head.

  • We had two Labrador retrievers, Gabriel (yellow) and Rachel (chocolate), plus two cats, Fred and Ginger. I would hit baseballs into the woods for the dogs to retrieve.
  • I loved cutting and splitting firewood. Great exercise, and we loved the heat from the wood burning stove in the winter.
  • The pews in the church had welded steel frames and wooden planks, crafted by some of the founders of the church. We had kneelers, too, which created quite a sound when they all fell to the floor at the same time for confession.
  • I got my first personal computer in Connecticut. Monochrome display, 5-1/4 inch floppy disk, no internet at that time. I just used it for word processing.
  • We often took the kids to the barns at the University of Connecticut. Most were open to the public, so we walked through rows of cows, pens full of sheep and goats, and fields filled with horses. The pigs were off-limits, though. Too many people tried to take the piglets. If we didn’t want to go to UConn, we just walk down the road to a small farm where horses, goats and chickens would come to greet us at the fence.
  • We lived in the church parsonage which sat on four acres right next to another four acres where the church was located. My two oldest children and I would often walk what we call the “‘benture trail,” along the boundary of our property which ran right up to the woods.
  • The obstetrician who brought our older daughter into the world forgave the part of our bill that insurance wouldn’t cover, in exchange for some “special intentions.” I was grateful, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t even know what that was. (They are intercessory prayers for someone, I think.)
  • The parsonage was a two-story, five bedroom, 2-1/2 bath, 2,600 sq. ft. home with a full basement and garage beneath. We moved in with a baby (Adam was four months old), a bed, a dresser, a crib, a table and a couple of chairs. We never never came close to fully furnishing that house. We did buy some antique oak dressers that we are still using today.
  • In the winter, those who smoked would stand in the narthex to stay warm, flicking ashes into the corner where they thought no one would notice.
  • The church wasn’t that big, averaging about 70 per Sunday in attendance. I still remember a whole bunch of the names: Thurber, Edmonds, Garay, Jeram, Sheehan, Ultzen, Wiebusch, Sans, Dollak, Davis, Burger, Dwyer, Bement, Ausburger, Underwood and Potterton. (That’s amazing!)

Not bad recall for events from over thirty years ago!

Posted in church, Connecticut, Ministry

Thirty-three

My son turns thirty-three next week. What do I remember about being thirty-three?

Wow, it’s a stretch. That was 1990. We were living in Connecticut, where I had received my first call as pastor of a small rural church, Prince of Peace, in Coventry, about an hour east of Hartford. Our kids, four and three, were attending the preschool. We had two labs, Gabriel and Rachel, yellow and chocolate, respectively. A big parsonage, probably 3,000 sq. ft. on four acres of land next door to the church. No AC. Only really got hot about 2 weeks each summer. I’m sure my wife had started her nursing classes at UConn by then.

The world wide web was brand new in 1990. No internet for us. No cell phones. No cable TV. We got all our news from TV and the Hartford Courant. Other than the bible, I only had a books I accumulated at seminary for my sermon and bible class preparation. What a contrast with the almost infinite resources available to me now!

I had a computer that I used for word processing, with a 5-1/4″ floppy drive, that I got from my brother, I think. I had a dot matrix printer, too. The church had a stencil duplicator to make weekly worship folders and monthly newsletters. We didn’t have to make too many though. About seventy gathered for worship each week.

I remember getting up very early on a Sunday morning and walking across the yard to the church, where I would practice my sermon a number of times. I would then come back home to help get everyone ready for church at 9:00, followed by bible class and Sunday School at 10:30. I think I taught a midweek bible class, too, but I can’t remember.

It was a very stable community. Not too many people moved to Coventry. Occasional visitors at church. New families joined from time to time. I still remember many of the families who welcomed us and helped me learn how to be a pastor those first few years: Jeram, Sans, Thurber, Garay, Dollock, Ausberger, Hamernik.

I still did quite a bit of running back then, but didn’t race much. I remember hitting softballs out into the yard for the labs to chase. I always wore out before they did. We let them run wherever. When I whistled in the evening, you could see them coming through the field from a half mile away. We had two cats for a while, Fred and Ginger, who also spent a lot of time outside. I’d yell, “Kittykittykittykittykittykitty” and they would come scrambling in from a tree.

We burned a lot of wood in a wood burning stove in the winter. I’d get people to bring over parts of fallen oak trees, and I would split and stack it in the summer time. I absolutely loved swinging the axe through those logs.

The kids and I would often walk down the road where a very small farm had goats and horses near the fence that we could pet. A short drive would bring us to the UConn barns, where we would walk through and visit cows, goats, sheep and horses.

I don’t know if I have any journals from back then. I have to rummage through the box of notebooks I have at church. I don’t even remember if or how much I was journaling at that time. Not as much as I do now. The memories are mostly in my head and in our photographs. But if I find some, I’ll let you know.