In the summer of 2014, I ran across a news story about a 92-year old plumber who had become a million-dollar donor in the state of Wisconsin. A member of the New London United Methodist Church, Stanley Cottrill had given $1 million to the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation for their seminary scholarship fund. He had also given in excess of $1 million to other local charities that were transforming lives in his community.
What I found interesting about that story was not the wealth, or even the generosity, of a retired plumber. If you noticed your last plumbing bill, it is not difficult to fathom how a frugal plumber could become a millionaire, albeit the old-fashioned way. Nor is it unique for a person in the final chapter of their life to start thinking about how to invest in this world those things that won’t accompany them to the next world. That is one of the most rational and sane things a person could do, and I am always curious about why more people don’t do it.
What caught my eye in this story was his simple answer to a simple question. When asked what he wanted to say to the United Methodist Conference, he said simply, “Tell them thank you…thank you for being the Church…thank you for being good pastors.”
This is what has gone unsaid in the countless newspaper articles and blogs since the St. Louis General Conference. In the past 4 weeks, thousands of sermons have been preached, proclaiming the Good News of God’s love in the lives of fallible human beings. Hospitals have been visited, meals have been served, homeless people have been cared for, children have been tutored, Vacation Bible Schools have been planned, grieving families have been comforted, youth groups have done mission projects, choirs and musicians have proclaimed the Word with melody and lyric. Despite the headlines, the church has continued the mission of loving God, serving others, and transforming lives. Amid all the controversy I, for one, want to just say thank you to my colleagues and our church members. Thank you for being the church. Thank you for being good pastors.
Rev. Don Underwood