Monday, December 29, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 1-04-04
By Jeff Gill

“Rats, Lice, and History” by Hans Zinsser was a book on a reading list for college students someone gave me in high school. Granted, it was an eclectic list an eccentric professor had compiled to prepare young people for higher education, but there were a number of interesting picks on it I’ve never regretted reading: “Tristram Shandy,” “The Mabinogion,” or “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”

But “Rats, Lice, and History” has stuck with my thinking processes far beyond the contents. It is a book, written as a series of magazine articles in the 1930’s, that was intended to make the point that bacteria, amoebas, and communicable diseases of any sort had always played a great role in history beyond what historians have ever wanted to tell. Battles won and lost, sieges lifted or triumphant, civilizations in rise or fall, all have hinged more on typhoid, cholera, or bubonic plague than they have on leadership, skilled generals, or valiant warriors.

In fact, one large section of Prof. Zinsser’s work is meant to sing the praises of the then-and-now unglamorous work of public health officials. Testing back then was usually directly hazardous to the life and health of the university staff or civic officials involved, and rarely well-funded or generally appreciated, but Zinsser argued to my satisfaction that they had advanced human civilization more than most artists, engineers, or diplomats.

The obvious, overarching point was that microscopic life forms have been around from the beginning, and will always be with us. . .necessarily, since microbes make our digestive tract and other systems of our bodies function properly. But his more subtle point had to do with the fact that just when we thought we understood the invisible world of disease thoroughly, there would always be another new outbreak, hitherto unknown, to make new work for the protectors of public health.

Certainly the AIDS pandemic of the 1980’s made Zinsser’s work interesting again, especially since viruses, Human Immunodeficiency Viruses or otherwise, were little understood and less mentioned in “Rats, Lice, and History.” His point was all the more sharp in that infectious agents whose very nature wasn’t understood were the next new public health threat.

And now, mad cow. Or, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, called BSE for obvious reasons and “mad cow” for the symptoms in an infected animal. Infected with what? Well, Prof. Zinsser would find the very concept of “prions” fascinating, while yet another example of how public health work is never done.

Some excitable and less well-informed writers have called “mad cow” a mystery disease. The cause isn’t a mystery: proteins that make up our bodies that our bodies constantly make are infected with a “misfolded” protein that causes further proteins to be misfolded, and all these mangled, useless building blocks of life gum up the works. Cholesterol is a necessary building block of our physical fabric, but too much of it in the wrong places gums up the works, which we call coronary artery occlusion, or “a heart attack.” When an organism has a prion disease, you start to have brain attacks, with the works of the mind gummed up, ultimately beyond repair.

There is a mystery, and that is whether prions constitute a lifeform or just a very complicated kind of enzyme; are they just a dead hunk of template run amok, or a deeper mystery of biology? These aren’t abstract questions when you’re looking for cures and preventive strategies, and the implications for our beef-eating society are immense.

But we know very little about prions (my spell check on the computer this gets typed on doesn’t know the word, but I think I’ll enter it into the dictionary when I’m done here for future use), even as their effects turn out to have been long-observed among trout, sheep, and south seas cannibals who noticed that brain-eating often causes a strange, wasting disease (can you say “kuru,” that Scrabble favorite? Yep, same thing).

Should we eat beef? Well, I will disappoint my vegan readers by saying I’m not in favor of going whole hog with chickening out on my meat eating. Good news for steak eaters in that whole cuts of “muscle meat” appear quite safe. The brain, spinal cord, and nervous system material off those parts are where the prions reside, misfolding their origami destruction, and the human hazard seen in Great Britain is in meat processing that gets a little “too close to the bone,” as it were, scraping every scrap off to maximize profits but also increasing risk. Globally, much is now known about what not to feed and how not to process cattle that makes us safer; generally, more is known now among us gen’l public folk about how a calf gets to your dinner table, which is not always pleasant, but helps us accurately judge risk for ourselves.

Ground beef is going to see a number of new checks and balances introduced, increasing the cost a bit for your cheeseburger. Zinsser would have said that we should not begrudge a little extra cost for research as well as prevention, because just as we finally all get informed about BSE, we human creatures can expect to have something new sneak up on our blind side.

Meanwhile, we all could probably do with a lot more vegetable matter in our diets, anyhow. And if you’ve got one of the myriad new strains of the common cold or furious flu, drink plenty of fluids and get some rest, and read “Rats, Lice, and History.” With your chicken soup, of course.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and an omnivore in both reading and eating habits; if you have dietary suggestions or public health guidelines to share, call him at 928-4066 or e-mail
Notes From My Knapsack – The Church Window January 2004

With the new year, and our annual congregational meeting Jan. 25, many of us are working on our annual report for 2003 (right?).

Anyhow, while such stuff can seem like needless number crunching, there is a kind of stewardship in “being faithful in little” such as tracking how many are in worship and how often, how much we give as “in-kind” gifts as well as in funds, and which areas of church life have met with hearty response. . .or not!

While there’s much of pastoral ministry that can’t be put into numbers, there’s actually quite a bit that can, and thereby tells a story we need to listen to as the elders and leadership plan for the future. Times and circumstances change; thankfully, the Good News doesn’t change, but how we share it is affected by different influences.

One huge one is this: just before Christmas, I made a pastoral visit to my twelfth (that’s 12!) hospital or surgery center – only two of those were one visit each. From Riverside in Columbus to Bethesda in Zanesville, from Fairfield General in Lancaster to Mansfield Memorial, to pray with patients before surgery and wait with families, to visit folks in rehab and come to ER’s late at night, 12 medical centers to get to, navigate within, and work with or through the staff.

There are other interesting numbers: seven nursing homes for resident visits, eight cemeteries for committals (but only three funeral homes I had to work with), three jails to visit inmates, two courthouses where hearings or proceedings needed a friendly face, and one Elections Commission hearing (that was the hardest to find!). But 12 medical centers.

I’d hazard a guess – and since Ralph, Paul, Morgan, Connie, and Keith all read this they may have input to share – that previous pastors in Hebron didn’t have parishioners spread that widely each year, but the new medical reality, with HMO’s and PPO’s and managed care that often seems more than a little mis-managed, is that we go where we’re sent, and that could be about anywhere in central Ohio.

In fact, adding up church mileage on the car yesterday, the total. . .well, put it this way. If you assume an average of 30 mph (which between highway miles and creeping up 79 or 30th St. seems about right), I spent 40 eight hour days just driving. Not including time spent in the hospital or home or meeting, but just turning the steering wheel. Almost two months of standard work week time, getting to where I’m needed. I’m the one who does the driving, and I was surprised.

So that’s some of what you learn by record keeping and report sharing; information we all need so our ministries can continue to grow and be fruitful. Oh, and have you given Ila your report yet?

In Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jeff

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Christian Reading Week

Sunday, Jan. 18, a special set of displays will be on view in the back of the sanctuary and downstairs with reading material and Christian literature. Some is from our library, some for sale (or ordering), and subscriptions to DiscipleWorld, our newest Disciples of Christ national publication, can be signed for at this time.

Winter can be a time for cabin fever, or for enjoying the quiet of a snowy evening. Reading can be one way to keep the winter blues at bay. Inspirational reading, stories of history and faith from our shared past, or vital accounts of the church at work today are all available.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

An Inkling

A gleam as through a window seen
Shimmering, shining, dimly lighting
Sill or frame beneath the flame;
One pool of light against the night
Viewed afar, this earthbound star
Grounded in a niche ‘tween hill and ditch
Implies, beneath the lowering skies,
A room behind, a place of warmth to find
For travelers tired, the last miles inspired
Toward a house unseen. All inferred from just one gleam.

So too, we find, standing (in a way) behind
The scene of Mary and blessed Baby
A larger structure, beyond conjecture
Of God and life, peace beyond strife,
New hope today, and in every day
A guide and friend; promise without end.

Should we let this little gleam
Cause us to trust here (in between
Eternities before and begone)
That there’s a larger home hereon?
Can the rooms of faith open one to the other
Like one candle lit from another?

Our steps hasten on to the stable door,
But eyes fixed higher up one floor
To the light in the window, the room behind,
And the house beyond, whose Host we’ll find.

- Christmas Eve, 2003

Monday, December 22, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 12-28-03
by Jeff Gill

Time to file away 2003, and open up a fresh, clean folder (or new icon for the desktop) for 2004.
2003 doesn’t fit well into any niche I’m used to. Contrariwise, 2003 sort of feels like “the year of the niche.�
Christmas music isn’t as much of a general cultural soundtrack as it once was, but now we have two radio stations playing “all Christmas formats� through December. A niche marketing strategy. We are well into the next federal election cycle (you may well keep your attention tuned to other matters, and wisely so, but trust me, we’re in it up to our Iowa caucuses), and everyone is asked to label themselves as Dem, Rep, Lib, Grn, or Fzl. OK, I made the last one up, but party affiliation will be crucial as we approach a primary in early-early March which means, if we want to shape our niches, we’d best be registered by early-early-early February, which might as well mean January.
Threat status “orange� not only doesn’t rhyme with anything, it doesn’t seem to tell us much, either, except which niche our anxiety should go in according to the worst-named government department ever, next to Robespierre’s Department of Public Safety (for more info, see Revolution, French). And as to Iraq, we’re all expected to be tidily “pro-war� or anti-war� about the whole thing.
We don’t have as many of those cross-cultural, crosscutting experiences like watching “Roots� or Walter Cronkite and the moon landing. The centennial of flight ceremonies on Dec. 17 were, to be fair, a bit anticlimactic with the replica Wright Flyer skidding into the mud, but I was hoping for an “everyone will remember this� moment. Didn’t happen. Broad, generic experiences like watching “White Christmas� or a Charlie Brown special are reduced to “Honey, should we get out the tape of that old Bing Crosby movie you like to watch each year?� There’s a niche: on-demand viewing and listening.
Or even more niche-y (?) did you notice that while the mass experience of moviegoing hasn’t gone entirely yet, we (as a society/economy) spend more on videogame experiences than movie admissions? The ultimate niche. We choose our lead role, we take our choice of supporting cast and props, and pick our ending made to order. My experience of a videogame is wildly different from yours, even when we both stuck the same cartridge in the Q-box.
And news! E! for entertainment news, MTV for music news, the Booster for good news, mass circulation dailies (not to mention any parent publications in particular) for less good news, and the History Channel for very old news. Many print outlets are springing up to service smaller areas and particular, oh, niches of news consumers.
The year of the niche, or not?
It could be, but we shouldn’t let it. Or, we may need to go all the way down that road. 2004 looks to be a year when we really need to be individuals all together. Carved into a mince pie of niches, no group, coalition, or alliance can really form to accomplish a task or achieve a goal. Individuals who know that that it’s OK to be totally inconsistent from a mass-cultural point of view aren’t afraid to be part of a movement or group larger than a table for four. You can be a Republican who enjoys Disney films, techno-rave music, and opera, or you may be a Green Party member with good friends in the Marine Corps and a sense that Nader might just be an egocentric nutcase.
In real life, people don’t fit into tidy niches, which is why those “You might also like� recommendations usually include suggestions that leave some grape Nehi spewed across your monitor. And in real life, folks do have broad tendencies to group together, which is why you click on a few of those computer generated hints. I have friends who share many interests with me, but are shocked to learn that we actually let the Little Guy watch cartoons on TV (“you have a television in your house?�), or that I’m pro-Israel (within reason), or that Joyce and I have, yes, an artificial Christmas tree. Allergies, if you must know. Personally, I can’t believe people still wear. . .but considering my wardrobe, forget I said anything.
Something about the tenor of the times tells me that we all need to enjoy not only our own and others’ uniquenesses, so that we can usefully figure out what we have in common enough to work together on. In politics, in community life, in our faith commitments, and in our choice of which two flavors go together best in a waffle cone (coffee and peppermint), it feels like it’s niches that divide, while individuality can be the basis for building consensus.
Here’s hoping you spend this New Year’s weekend, or at least halftime at the Fiesta Bowl, figuring out who you really were in ’03, and who you want to become in ’04.
And then we can figure out what we’ll get done together!
Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and is extremely predictable except when he isn’t. If you know any exceptions to this rule, or have news of local interest, call 928-4066 or e-mail

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 12-21-03
By Jeff Gill

Christmas Eve services Wednesday night are all around the Hebron Crossroads.
Jacksontown United Methodist Church has their choir cantata Dec. 24 at 7:00 pm, called “The Light of the World.” On Christmas Sunday, Dec. 21 (if you get this that early!), they have a drama at their 9:15 am service only, “The Day After Christmas.”
Licking Baptist Church, north of town on Beaver Run Road, will share a musical in Sunday worship, “Christmas For a Change,” at 10:45 am, and their Christmas Eve service is at 7:00 pm.
Hebron United Methodist will have a candlelight service Dec. 24 at 11:00 pm, where they will repeat selections from their cantata on Dec. 21. On Sunday the full program includes a small orchestra to accompany their chancel choir!
Many area churches offer 7:00 pm services on Christmas Eve; First Community Church in Buckeye Lake has their candlelight service then, as do a number of lake area churches from Thornville to Millersport and on down the canal to Baltimore.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church has Midnight Mass, but you don’t want to get there at midnight for a seat.
And at Hebron Christian Church, we’ll hear a concert of piano and organ music from David Ford from 7 to 7:30 pm, when a Service of Lessons and Carols will include communion for our Christmas Eve, and a candlelight closing to “Silent Night.” The senior choir sings “The Shepherd’s Christmas” in worship Sunday Dec. 21, following a wonderful job by the junior choir with their musical last Sunday.
Hope you find a place to celebrate the season this week!

Speaking of music, there’s been a surfeit of great instrumental and choral performances these last few weeks in the Lakewood school district.
This columnist regrets not making it to every last one of ‘em, but from the Lakewood Holiday Concert Dec. 7 with high school bands and choirs, the Middle School Bands on Dec. 14, Hebron Elementary Dec. 15, and a middle school Choral Concert Dec. 16, it hasn’t been too much, but it is a richness of seasonal blessings.
A few passing thoughts. . .in the Swing Choir section, a great rendition of an “Alvin and the Chipmunks” favorite left me wondering if they were still shown anywhere; do the kids know why they’re singing like a speeded-up Ampex tape deck? But Judith Rauch and the gang sure sounded good.
The Jazz and Symphonic Bands were great as well, with the extra bonus of a guest conductor, Mr. Bill Fisher, a former Lakewood band director. I’m told Mr. Coffey has more guest conductors planned for future concerts, but it will be hard to top this sprightly veteran and his crisp direction from the podium. With his pedigree from Ohio University and the Navy School of Music he made a good match for Scott’s approach to his first year with this ensemble.
As to the middle schoolers, these ears enjoyed the “Pat-a-pan Processional” and “Ding-dong Merrily On High” in particular, but Rob Caldwell pointed out at the band concert how many of the sixth graders had just gone from once or twice a week to daily play, and what a leap they had made. The eighth graders, for whom this is old hat, are now ready to present smooth and steady renditions of “The Christmas Song” and they could even handel “For Unto Us.” The eighth grade choir did a great job on the blur of words crammed into the full version of “It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas,” and everyone together closed the concert in front of a backdrop and indoor snowfall that Bing and Rosemary should have seen. . .and would have enjoyed.
Many thanks not only to the hard working directors and behind the scenes folk like Martha Fickle and many Band Boosters, but to the crowded auditoriums each concert played for. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors and friends all came out and shared the applause that echoes into the practice room through the long hours of rehearsal to make it worthwhile. Let’s hear a round of applause for the audiences, too.

Community spirit has been much in evidence, not only with turnout for school events, but for meeting some other pressing needs. Hebron Elementary assisted 98 children in 36 families this holiday season, with many teachers and staff all going the extra mile to help make a brighter Christmas for families having a rough time this December.
But they give the main credit to everyone who went out and did a little extra shopping, put a special offering in the hat, or helped out to “adopt” these families. Companies like Dow, Meritor, and Brezina Construction; community groups like the Hebron Lions and the VFW; churches and individuals who gave of themselves all were part of the effort, and they appreciate the caring work at our local school.

At the village offices, they appreciate how many people really, really, really give of themselves: our regular blood donors through the American Red Cross. Nov. 25 we had 44 people come to give, with 38 units donated (plus many “helpers” who couldn’t give that day).
With the increasing success of this program down at the Municipal Complex on West Main, we began signing up donors as they left for time slots next time, which will be Feb. 13 from 1 to 6 pm. There are already 30 donors registered! What a great response from our Hebron community, and extra thanks to Don Kissack and the Hebron McDonald’s for their special incentives to donors.

A Merry Christmas to you and yours; God bless us, every one! And one more Crossroads tale in 2003 next week. . .

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and a bass (retired baritone). If you have a song in your heart to share, or news of local interest, call him at 928-4066 or e-mail

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 12-14-03
By Jeff Gill

Jose and Maria were heading down I-70 towards Wheeling when the old grey Buick Riviera they drove started to overheat.

The cold December night suddenly felt a little more threatening (with the heater not working well, a problem you didn’t notice much in Del Rio through the summer). They were heading to the home of a family member in Steubenville who had a good job for them both, which was really important since their first-born was due soon, roundly visible between the shoulder and lap belt Maria wore.

So Jose reluctantly turned off at the next exit. He didn’t have much cash on him, just his ATM card, which he hated to use more than he had to. Thinking that getting some work done under the hood would be cheaper away from the interstate, he drove past the bright lights of the truck stops and newer hotels, and headed down the road.

They started to feel nervous as they realized both that it was later than they thought, and that there was no large town just off the way. At the next intersection, they saw a closed lumberyard, a few darkened buildings, and relatively few homes. Jose turned right, paralleling their original direction, hoping to find a town, a garage, somewhere reassuring.

Of course it was a dark stretch of road where the engine emitted a “pop” and a sighing wheeze, and red lights punctuated the dashboard behind the wheel Jose struggled to turn onto the shoulder.

Maria gasped with fright, as suddenly in the silence and within the beam of headlights they saw a headstone right in front of them. “Are we in a cemetery?” she asked. Then they saw the arc of “Cumberland” across the top, and Jose said “I think it’s an old milestone on this road; something historic.”

They could just see the glow ahead of some crossroads, and were considering how to bundle up for a walk over the hill and down to whatever lay ahead, when a loud, low, long rumble started to shake the car, and lights shone from behind.

A line of motorcycles rolled past them, divided in front of them, and stopped on both sides of the road. One bright headlight turned back, bumped along the gravel, and pulled up to the driver side window. Jose rolled the crank back about half a turn.

Out of the darkness behind the light, with a creak of leather, a head turned and spoke. “You guys are on the wrong side of the road looking lost. Everything OK?”

Jose answered, “The engine died and I was losing the power steering.”

“Yep, that’s what I thought. This is some old mule of a car; don’t know about finding parts tonight for you. Now if it were a Harley, we’d probably be able to fix you up out of our saddlebags.”

“Who are you guys?” asked Maria.

“Just a bunch of guys out on a poker run, ma’am,” he answered, swinging off the bike to stand by the car. As he turned, Jose saw a blazon on the back of his leather jacket, with gothic letters in a scroll across symbols below, saying “The Nolo Contenderes.”

“Nolo. . .Say, you guys aren’t. . .” Jose trailed off.

“Yeah,” the dark figure said sheepishly, “we’re a bunch of lawyers. That’s the name of our, uh, group. We ride most Fridays if the Bucks aren’t playing. You must know Latin, Mr.?”
“My name’s Jose, this is my wife Maria.” Hands were shaken through a now lowered window. “Actually, we have family just two hours down the road who’ll come and get us, but I hadn’t gotten out my cell phone before you showed up.”

It took very little discussion to realize that, whatever was wrong, thermostat or head gasket, the Buick wasn’t going anywhere, and Maria was in no mood to straddle a passenger seat on a big bike. While Jose contacted Steubenville, a huddle among the “Nolos” ended with everyone back in a circle on the roadside.

“We can probably get someone to come back up here with a car pretty quick,” said the leader through his brushy mustache. “There’s a dance down at the catering hall over the next hill we were dropping by. Meanwhile, we can’t leave you here in the cold; but across the way I know a guy whose house probably has security on it, but I can get you inside their barn full of straw. You can nestle down in that until we get back.”

“So how do you know how to break into buildings, Mr. Lawyer?” asked Jose with a smile.

“Some clients pay in cash, others barter by teaching useful life skills,” answered “Mr. Contendere.” “I could ask you how you speak English so well, Jose; no offense meant.”

“No offense taken,” answered Jose, his smile now a mix of pride and amusement. “Some of my family may do migrant labor that brought us up to Ohio years ago, but some of my family lives on land in New Mexico they have the deed to, marked 1616.”

“Before Plymouth Rock,” nodded the lawyer, swinging back onto his Harley. “Funny how most people’s stories aren’t what you’d think ‘til you let them tell it. Well, keep your story right here in this barn for a bit more, and we’ll be right back. Louie and his wife had four chili dogs and a bag of batter-dip fries they got at the last stop on the poker run and hadn’t opened, so stay close, stay warm, and eat up. We’ll have you somewhere better soon, I promise.”

As he revved the engine at the barn door, he hollered to Maria and Jose, “And when we get you to a better room and a friendly crowd, I can’t wait to tell you the story of how we came to stop right there by ya; you’re not gonna believe it!”

“Oh, tonight I’d believe about anything,” Jose said inaudibly as two other bikers slid the door shut from their cycle seats and roared off.

And of course it was just then, in the dimness of the moonlight filtering down from the window in the hayloft, that Maria squeezed his hand and said nervously, “Dear, I think the baby is coming.”

May your Christmas at the Hebron Crossroads be wonderful, mysterious, and joyful this year of Our Lord Two thousand and three! Next week, Christmas week special services; call 928-4066 or e-mail with details.

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for the Dec. 21 Community Booster Christmas Traditions --

From Jeff Gill at the Hebron Crossroads: “Each year, after we bake our cookies from flour we’ve ground in our own handmill, and when we finish painting the toys I’ve carved out of wood naturally fallen to the ground from ancient oak trees, we sit around Joyce playing Advent tunes on her dulcimer, with the Little Guy coloring in the angels on the border of our Christmas letters. . .um, wait. That’s what we dream about after eating too much store-bought cookie dough right before another too-late bedtime.

It will come as no surprise that for a pastor’s family, we focus through December on the church celebrations of the season with children’s musicals and choir cantatas and candlelight Christmas Eve planning and preparation, plus the extra work we all get together at Hebron Christian Church to do for food pantries, housing programs, and needy families. Years ago, I used to feel more that we “didn’t get” as much chance for Christmas observance as others, but what I’ve really gotten into is the ancient idea of “Christmastide,” the celebration that is dimly recalled in “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” From Christmas day on the 25th to Jan. 6th, or Epiphany, while the stores tear down all the tinsel and trappings, and the decor shifts to Valentine’s red on the 26th, we can count down to the visit of the Magi (which is what Epiphany marks), keep the music celebrating Christ’s birth playing, and bake the cookies and do the things that others did back in the “Holiday Season.” And did I mention clergy are infamous for sending Epiphany cards more than Christmas cards? The colors of the church vestments go from royal purple to celebration white, and we get to sing the carols while radio stations have gone back to playing the top 40 and see the tree as a symbol of new life instead of a rack for ornaments on sale. Now if we could just bring back Boxing Day, as well. . .”

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 12-07-03
By Jeff Gill

Standing on my neighbor’s roof, with the sun setting and Venus bright in the southwest, everything looked different.

Nevermind that I was only about 15 feet off the ground. Forget that a window in my house next door is higher than where I stood, holding one end of a string of Christmas lights. Looking from the ochre horizon of sunset to the eastern darkness spangled with stars, across the shallow bowl of Hebron, down into streets already lit with multicolored strings of bulbs across eaves, everything looked different. Not a whole lot, but noticeably different. Angles of vision, breadth of view, and revelations of distance usually hemmed in by walls and trees and bushes, all making for a new way of looking at my surroundings.

That’s what I think the Wright Brothers brought us 100 years ago next week: not so much flight, or air transportation, let alone overnight shipping, but a new perspective.

That new perspective started at Kitty Hawk but was conceived and raised in Ohio, in their bicycle shop at Dayton and on Huffman Prairie outside of town, the true birthplace of aviation. Now part of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base complex, these wide open river bottoms, surrounded by low bluffs, were where Orville and Wilbur got their orientation to how the world looked from above. Can’t get to North Carolina? Don’t worry, drive to Dayton instead, and see the Air Force Museum while you’re at it, just up the road.

But last year, while my wife was at a professional conference in Virginia Beach, I looked on a map and realized that the Little Guy and I could make it between breakfast and suppertime pickup down to the famous stretch of windy beach.

We made the trip in the light drizzle to steady rain that kept on us all week, but the longest period of dryness was when we crossed the bridge onto the Outer Banks, rolled down to the Wright Brothers National Park at Kitty Hawk, and rambled across the now grassy plain.
Since he was four, the memories probably won’t last, but watching the boy run down the blacktop path between the granite markers – liftoff, first flight landing, second, and third, all less than the length of a 747 today – will last in my memory for a long time to come.

A sturdy stone memorial tower, arced with curves swooping up from busts of the brothers to metal symbols aimed at the sky, was set atop the adjoining hill. The view reached out to the Atlantic, now separated from the replica hangars by a blacktop road and three rows of vacation homes stilted along the dunes, but the really evocative part of the area is a runway set parallel to the “first flight” zone, with a regular procession of small aircraft puttering down out of the sky, with many touch-and-go-ing right back up into the air. I’m guessing that a flight log with “landing and takeoff” at Kitty Hawk is a point of pride for civil aviators.

Last year, with the National Park Service preparing for 2003’s Centennial of Flight, all the museum space and Wright Flyer replica was closed for renovations and new parking construction. But that was OK. I enjoyed the view from the memorial platform, looking out at the ocean, down at the narrow strip of asphalt where history was made in December of 1903, and up at the everyday fliers who were seeing the world in a different way, thanks to the bishop’s boys from Ohio.

Thanks, guys.

This December also marks a new perspective springing from 160 years ago, in 1843. Just three years before, the general public first saw a Christmas tree in the penny papers as part of the decorations at Windsor Castle of Queen Victoria, brought over by her Germanic family members.

The customs and images and depictions of a “traditional” Christmas were still very much in flux, both in Great Britain and the United States. What happened along to fix much of that picture in our collective unconscious was a little book published in London by Charles Dickens. Already famous, “A Christmas Carol” sealed his place as an icon of English literature, and even more than giving us the remarkable portrait of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Cratchit family, Dickens gave us a perspective of what a Christmas celebration should be, even if we’ve never roasted a goose or cooked a pudding or mulled wine into a steaming Victorian punch.

And his vision of forgiveness and repentance as central to the meaning of the holiday, whether for the religious or the irreverent, through the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future, made a lasting impact on the season, for the better and for us all.

Reginald Owen, Alaistair Sim, George C. Scott, and Patrick Stewart among others have all taken a crack at the figure who probably overshadows even Hamlet and Huck Finn in our cultural imagination. Did Charles Dickens change the world as much as the Wright Brothers? Hard to say, but what a fascinating question to ponder this Christmas season.

Cue Tiny Tim: “God bless us, every one!”

A few quick local notes as well. Sunday afternoon at 3 pm the Lakewood Band offers their Winter concert down at the LHS auditorium. Wednesday, Dec. 10, there is a two hour early dismissal. Plus this note to churches planning Christmas Eve special services: please get me your times and titles posthaste, as deadlines are scooting backwards! Just call 928-4066 or e-mail, and remember to note your church name, and times plus anything else you want noted so we can have all our Hebron Crossroads area services in the Dec. 21 Booster. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Notes From My Knapsack -- The Church Window Dec. 2003

"Focus" was the Latin word for "hearth." In ancient Rome, and in more recent times on the Ohio frontier, the fireplace, the hearth was indeed the focus of the family living space.
Nowadays, the focal point of most living rooms is the TV set. Even in homes with a fireplace, the location is carefully to one side, so as not to shift the focus of the room, or to block the sight lines to the screen all the furniture points at.
But during this time of year, all kinds of folk are willing to adjust their reality a bit. We move furniture, realign the sight lines, and make our focus the Christmas tree.
If some seats have an obscured view of the picture tube, we decide we can live with it. . .for at least a few weeks. We take a bit of the outdoors, a few ornaments of our family tradition, and some of our faith, and put it on display where no one, least of the residents of that space, can miss the new point of focus.
This is, for many households, an opportunity. A chance to create some new traditions, make a few adornments to our future history, and reflect (by the Christmas lights alone of a late evening) on what our faith tells us about "the reason for the season."
I hope and pray this Christmas season that you may, by the lights echoing those Roman fireplaces, now making you a new hearth through scented candles and electric colored bulbs, find your focus in the Light that comes from a stable, and place your hope in One born under a wintry star over Bethlehem.
In Grace & Peace,
Pastor Jeff

CWF Christmas Dinner for the whole church family -- after worship Dec. 21

Budget/Stewardship Team

The Budget Committee, which was asked to review items from their proposed 2004 budget at the last Board meeting, will meet along with the Stewardship Team, which meets on months between Board meetings.
They will work at the church on Monday night, Dec. 8, at 7 pm to review what will be presented to the congregational meeting Jan. 25.
Due to increased fixed costs and expenses, even with some fairly significant cuts, the new budget will represent an increase over the giving levels in 2003. Jean Wonders, our financial secretary, estimates that if, on average, each of our 50 regular "giving units" (families or individuals by household) gave another $10 per month, we would have a solid budget for 2004.
Thank you for your prayerful reflection on your own giving in the new year, and for your prayers for the board and financial officers in their decision making! We are glad to report that the support for the 604 W. Main property has the principal owed below $60,000 on a $113,000 purchase just four years ago, and we are halfway to our congregational commitment of $12,000 to Camp Christian's new construction.
Notes From My Knapsack -- The Church Window Dec. 2003

"Focus" was the Latin word for "hearth." In ancient Rome, and in more recent times on the Ohio frontier, the fireplace, the hearth was indeed the focus of the family living space.
Nowadays, the focal point of most living rooms is the TV set. Even in homes with a fireplace, the location is carefully to one side, so as not to shift the focus of the room, or to block the sight lines to the screen all the furniture points at.
But during this time of year, all kinds of folk are willing to adjust their reality a bit. We move furniture, realign the sight lines, and make our focus the Christmas tree.
If some seats have an obscured view of the picture tube, we decide we can live with it. . .for at least a few weeks. We take a bit of the outdoors, a few ornaments of our family tradition, and some of our faith, and put it on display where no one, least of the residents of that space, can miss the new point of focus.
This is, for many households, an opportunity. A chance to create some new traditions, make a few adornments to our future history, and reflect (by the Christmas lights alone of a late evening) on what our faith tells us about "the reason for the season."
I hope and pray this Christmas season that you may, by the lights echoing those Roman fireplaces, now making you a new hearth through scented candles and electric colored bulbs, find your focus in the Light that comes from a stable, and place your hope in One born under a wintry star over Bethlehem.
In Grace & Peace,
Pastor Jeff

CWF Christmas Dinner for the whole church family -- after worship Dec. 21

Budget/Stewardship Team

The Budget Committee, which was asked to review items from their proposed 2004 budget at the last Board meeting, will meet along with the Stewardship Team, which meets on months between Board meetings.
They will work at the church on Monday night, Dec. 8, at 7 pm to review what will be presented to the congregational meeting Jan. 25.
Due to increased fixed costs and expenses, even with some fairly significant cuts, the new budget will represent an increase over the giving levels in 2003. Jean Wonders, our financial secretary, estimates that if, on average, each of our 50 regular "giving units" (families or individuals by household) gave another $10 per month, we would have a solid budget for 2004.
Thank you for your prayerful reflection on your own giving in the new year, and for your prayers for the board and financial officers in their decision making! We are glad to report that the support for the 604 W. Main property has the principal owed below $60,000 on a $130,000 purchase just four years ago, and we are halfway to our congregational commitment of $12,000 to Camp Christian's new construction.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 11-30-03
By Jeff Gill

So the good word is that unemployment is down nationally, down in Ohio, and even declining in Licking County. Other than Democrats running for President in 2004, that's great news, no doubt about it.
And you are probably reading this on or just after the retail event known as "Black Friday," when traffic reports start early even though few are going to work. "Live helicopter shots" show predawn serpents of tiny little people far below waiting in line at the big box retail giants facing their requisite acre of asphalt. . .at 6:30 am.
Everyone expects consumer spending and retail numbers to be up, up, up this holiday season.
So why do I not feel so good about the economy?
To tell you all the truth, the numbers that would make me feel better about the future would be an increase in the savings rate of Americans, now startlingly low. I'd like to see mortgage foreclosures and personal bankruptcies on the decline, along with food pantry applications. The fact that consumer confidence and personal discretional spending is up doesn't necessarily make me feel like all is rosy again in the economy.
I trust our faithful advertisers won't take it amiss if this columnist points out that with average total balances on credit cards (16 of 'em per household!) pushing $9,000, we think we have a whole lot more money to spend than we actually do. Then when the least little economic tremor knocks a family over the precipice of paying for groceries and car payments off the cards that they're no longer making minimum payments on, the fall is quick and the sudden stop at the end is harsh.
All of which is to say, that as you head out into your Christmas shopping, remember that it really is the thought that counts, that you probably won't win the lottery in January before the credit card bills come due, and that you can't buy love. Stimulate the economy by all means, but don't tickle the tiger named "Chapter 11" to do it. Give gifts of love and service along with the awkward-to-wrap store bought items, and give of yourself instead of giving your future away for a present.
OK, I heard you say that: "Gee, you're in a mood!" Well, sure. Not a bad mood, but a bittersweet one. The Lakewood Area Churches' Thanksgiving Service was very well attended with over 220 at the LHS auditorium, and thanks again to Bob Beyer, Martha Fickle, Judith Rauch, Janice Harris, Martha Graham, Joyce Meredith, and Brian Harkness along with truly a cast of over a hundred who took the stage at one point or another to help present the service, and to Ila Mason and Annette Price who set up refreshments after. Our offering was over $375.
And that's where the bittersweet part comes in. I had already heard from Enid Ray and Maribel Neel that the LEADS Food Pantry at Buckeye Lake had a record number of requests for October, and November is heading down the same path. The when I arrived with the offering, Lynne Cash the director told me it was only the second donation they had received this holiday season so far. . .just like last year. But there's even more exposed shelving this year than last, as giving both in kind and financial is down.
This was just after a wonderful noontime celebration of the decade-plus of service from the Licking County Coalition for Housing, which has gone from a card table in a damp basement and four barely furnished apartments to a million dollar a year budget, still often administered off of card tables!
But the card tables aren't the problem, not at all. That staff will work on their hands and knees setting up shoes around Courthouse Square in a chill wind just to increase public awareness, dontcha know, and they make sure all the best stuff gets used for the families and take the busted pieces donated to furnish their offices. It's just that with all the growth and cooperativeness in Licking County around this transitional housing program, we still see families in crisis we can't quite help. Good folks who lost a job or even just their insurance, and the next thing they know they're bankrupt, evicted, foreclosed. It happens as fast as it takes to get six credit card applications in the mail, or even faster.
So take it easy this Christmas; put something in the savings account even in December, make a budget for 2004, make a contribution in someone's name as a gift this year.
LCCH, LEADS, Catholic Social Services, the Salvation Army, or any group you personally know is helping build community ties and strengthen families: they'd be happy to acknowledge your gift in honor of somebody. And the great thing about a gift like that is that they don't have to figure out where to store it!
Or if you want to build up some holiday cheer, there are so many FREE ways to do so coming up soon. This Sunday afternoon, Nov. 30 at 4 pm, the Land of Legend Symphony and Centenary UMC in Granville are offering a "Sing-along Messiah" for no charge.
Next Saturday, the Granville Candlelight Walking Tour from early evening on and "Christmas in the Country" at Infirmary Mound Park on Rt. 37 will have loads of seasonal spirit with no admission fee, sharing music and Christmas scenes to get you in the mood.
Not the spending mood, but the feeling that life itself is a gift. It can be expensive, but giving of yourself is the gift anyone can afford to give.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church, and bemused holder of one credit card with a limit that keeps going up even when he doesn't use it for months. If you can explain that, or have news of local interest, call 928-4066 or e-mail

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 11-23
By Jeff Gill

Anniversaries are piling up thick and fast; last Wednesday was the 140th of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Saturday was of course the 40th commemoration of the Kennedy assassination, and in the next few weeks the centennial of flight by the Wright brothers plus another number 160, which I’ll let you guess at since the last two will be noted in a future column.
Let’s turkey-trot through some other local business before we gather at the Hebron Crossroads to talk about Nov. 22, 1963, and the two passings we do well to remember this weekend.
This Sunday night, at the Lakewood High School auditorium, our Community Thanksgiving Service led and presented by local youth is at 7:00 pm. Come and see a dramatic presentation called “The Northside Orphanage” done by youth from Jacksontown United Methodist, along with their tone chimes, a bell choir from Hebron Christian Church, a chorus out of Lakewood High singing Ohio State’s anthem in its original Christian hymn form, “Come, Christians, Join To Sing” thanks to help from Judith Rauch, and readings by youth from Hebron United Methodist. Licking Baptist Church and Hebron Church of the Nazarene along with others already mentioned have refreshments ready for after.
This is a joyful, thoughtful, and always well-attended service in the Lakewood area, and a time for us to support our local Buckeye Lake LEADS food pantry through the offering, so please plan to join us.
Across the road in two more weeks, on Sunday Dec. 7 at 5:30 pm in the cafeteria of the Intermediate School, our area’s newest church will have their first “public preview” worship with a meal and brief service. New Life Community, a church-start of the United Methodist Church, is getting going with this preview, which will grow into a monthly Sunday morning experience and, finally, weekly worship.
There will be no offering taken at this worship time, just a meal for all and a chance to experience some contemporary Christian music and a short dramatic message by actors you’ll probably recognize from our neck of the woods. Child care is provided.
“We’re here to help bring a whole generation of unchurched families back into a community of faith,” says Brian Harkness. As an experienced Methodist pastor, he and his wife Melissa (who works at Hebron Elementary with Donita McFarland in the office) moved into the Lake Forest subdivision a few months ago as part of a plan by the Newark District of the United Methodist Church to plant a church somewhere between Pataskala and the Lakewood area.
“Somewhere near the end of January we’ll begin our monthly Sunday morning service, which will be more like an hour, but this is a very brief version we’re offering on Dec. 7 of how we intend to share worship,” Brian adds.
Welcome to New Life Community, and they may add a few guitars to our hymn singing at the Thanksgiving service as part of their arrival to the area. A small group has been meeting for weeks on Sunday evenings to discuss membership and leadership issues, so they can hit the ground running.
Monday, Nov. 24, a tenth anniversary is celebrated by the Licking County Coalition for Housing. Cherry Valley Lodge is hosting this very special edition of LCCH’s annual meeting at noon, with a great lunch and a MC who we hope is funnier than his Hebron Crossroads columns!
I do have to admit that, as one of the original three “incorporators” and part of a virtual “cast of thousands” that got this amazing effort off the ground in 1993, I really cannot believe that it has been ten years since we assembled the requisite wing and accompanying prayer to get going. There have been state and federal grants and generosity unbounded in the years since, but at the beginning was very little but a whole lot of faith and a deep belief that we could help keep people out of emergency shelters piled on bunk beds to the ceilings.
If you want to get an overview of this program that has helped thousands of families get from crisis to confidence, from homelessness to homeownership, drop by Cherry Valley Lodge on Monday. It’s quite a story, one that will give you hope.
And if you need help, call 345-1970. Someone at the Coalition will get you pointed in the right direction if you’ll work with them.
And about that much sadder day 40 years ago. . .
Young as I was back then, all I remember is the funeral procession a few days later, with my mother explaining the meaning of the boots backward in the stirrups, and the sight of John-John saluting, which I’m sure I remember because we were the same age. The sadness of the adults and the mournful atmosphere wherever we went that week, all that I remember, but of the day itself when President Kennedy was shot, I have not a clue.
In years since, like most of us, I’ve learned so much about those days in Dallas and DC that where my memories end and the endless documentaries begin is hard to trace anymore.
But I know for sure that I, like pretty much everyone else, didn’t know a thing then about a death on Nov. 22, 1963 which may have been as large a loss as JFK, but it took much longer for the rest of us to know it. A minor celebrity died in Oxford, England, whose obituary, noting him largely as a children’s book author, was shoved aside by the torrent of wire service copy about the assassination.
Clive Staples Lewis, known as C.S. to the public or Jack to friends like J.R.R. Tolkien, died the same day as Kennedy, and was buried the day before his majestic state funeral. The Anglican ceremony was attended by few, who recall the single candle burning steadily on the coffin-lid in the churchyard, despite the steady breezes blowing on a chill autumn day.
As the years have passed, the significance of C.S. Lewis as a theologian and a thinker, as well as author of the Narnia Chronicles and the Space Trilogy, has become clearer and clearer. His stature and significance to Christians and even to those who would argue against Christianity is greater today than it was the day he died, and continues to grow. And the Narnia books, starting with “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” are second only to those “Ring” novels by his friend Tolkien, to whom Lewis dedicated “The Screwtape Letters.”
As you remember Jack Kennedy on Nov. 22, as well we ought, perhaps you would light a candle for Jack Lewis, too. Thanks, and a blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and a fan of the Inklings (you could look ‘em up); if you have obscure British authors to chat about, or news of local interest, call 928-4066 or e-mail

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 11-16-03
By Jeff Gill

Dedication day on Remembrance Day, aka Veterans Day, was quite a day!
OK, so the weather could have been better, but as Phil Herman and Kevin Blade both pinted out, “the veterans we honor put up with a whole lot colder and wetter than this so we could be here today.”
Hebron Village staff put out immense effort to make the surroundings and ceremony all that they could be, plus Ila Mason and Annette Price co-ordinated seating and refreshments through Hebron Christian Church, Hebron United Methodist Church, and Likcing Baptist Church. The VFW and American Legion contingents, Lakewood Band, and the delegation from Hebron Elementary did their parts well.
If you haven’t yet been out to Evans Park to see the memorial, please make a point of doing so. The three flagpoles will have round the clock flags when the proper lighting is installed, says Donna Braig, and kudos to her and co-chair Marian Davis, who as a former school board member got to present the replica Hebron High School diplomas to the six families who lost their loved one in combat before they could return to finish their schooling. Phil and his staff did a great job duplicating the diploma from 1942, and a tip of the hat to Lou Staffilino, who couldn’t be with us but started the idea rolling as a further tribute to our fallen seven.

Last weekend it was out to one of the other Evans Parks in Licking County (thanks, Uncle Tom! T.J. Evans is still doing good for his community long after his passing). The premier show band in Licking County was performing as part of a United Way fundraiser around a flag football game between police and fire personnel. Well, they said it was flag football, anyhow: awful lot of tackling from where I sat!
Another band organization which shall not be named was not present, so the Lakewood Band played pretty much right through the first half and then still put on a great halftime show, which tells you how much material they’ve worked up this year. It was a great fall afternoon, with a medical helicopter and a harvester in an adjoining soybean field to keep even a five year old fascinated.
Add half a dozen costumed mascots from around the county, and you have again quite a day.

But the band is winding down, and it is time for other artists and art forms to take the fore at Lakewood. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 21 & 22 at 7:30 pm, the Lakewood Theatre Department will present “In The Middle of Grand Central Station.” Tickets are $6, and you can order them from any Drama Club or Drama Booster member, or call 928-8340.
Then on Sunday, Nov. 23, at 7 pm in the same auditorium at Lakewood High School, youth and others from many different area churches will offer a combined Community Thanksgiving Service. Song, drama, music, and readings will all be a part of this service of celebration, and an offering is intended for Buckeye Lake LEADS food pantry.

At the Hebron Crossroads, we’ll have Clifford Mason back as mayor for his history-making third term, with Mike Halter returning to council and Christine Taylor joining the work of that panel of elected leaders. A Crossroads salute to Bob Gilbert, who stepped out of the fray to take a post on the sidelines with the exalted title “coach” in place of councilmember: he will be missed. On Lakewood School Board, Tim Spitzer knows he’s got some work to do the next few years on Monday nights, but Frosty Cooperrider and Pam DeVaul are waiting on the provisional ballot results. . .stay tuned!
Sadly, with the circulation at the last minute by dark of night of a flyer with a wide variety of untruths, there will be hearings with the State Board of Elections relating to campaign materials. Nothing that will affect the outcome, but we should get a bit more clarity about claims that have been made, given by an independent, bipartisan tribunal, which is probably for the best even if regrettable.
As the old saying goes, “Lies have wings, while the truth trudges along the side of the road one step at a time.” I asked Scott Walters about some of the latest facts and figures about Lake Forest, the Dominion Homes development on the southeast side of town. This subdivision, which will have 220 homes when complete, “currently has sold 48 homes since January of 2003.”
He also shared with me that “nine of those homes were sold to residents currently renting or owning in the village, plus twelve to residents of areas neighboring Hebron like Buckeye Lake, Jacksontown, and Heath.”
With historic 35 year low interest rates, home ownership is within reach of many who just a few years ago thought they couldn’t get there anytime soon. Isn’t helping people become home owners and property owners, with a neighborhood and community they are well and truly invested in, good for building that “small town spirit” we all value and want to preserve? It sure is better than seeing the owner-occupied housing numbers going down, as we’ve had in the Hebron area for too long.
So welcome to our newest Hebron residents, and get involved! Every council member we have now lives on the west side of High Street; good thing we re-elected Cliff so the east half of town has someone to represent them. But this writer suspects that Lake Forest will have a resident on village council someday soon, as we continue to build our community at the Hebron Crossroads.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church, and he’s ready to give thanks; or at least to eat pumpkin pie. If you have stuffing receipes to share or news of note, call 928-4066 or e-mail

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Monuments, Memorials, and Memory
Community Booster 11-09-03
By Jeff Gill

ON Veterans Day 2003, at 1 pm on Nov. 11, a ceremony will begin at Evans Park on Refugee Road to dedicate a new monument for the Hebron area. The ceremony will close years of work and mark literally centuries of service to the nation, and start a new place of memory for local citizens with nearly 600 names on display.
The story of this memorial begins in many places, and one of these beginnings is back in the older part of the village, near some of the oldest homes in Hebron and hard by the entrance of one of the best-loved landmarks in the area since 1914.
With a swath and scattering of red-gold leaves, a sweetgum tree releases some of the last display of autumn by the main doors of Hebron Elementary, once Hebron High School. Breezes blowing from the southeast drift the leaves across the sidewalk, near the base of a boulder, rounded yet solid and strong.
Brought to this area by glacial forces long ago, put in this particular place by human hands and inset with a bronze plaque, the passing students often pause to glance as they trot by this monument, attracting attention simply by its weighty presence.
If you step near and read, you see seven names, and a reminder that these are Hebron school’s “honored dead,” in Lincoln’s evocative words at Gettysburg.
From the puddles of red at your feet to the red stripes on the American flag overhead, the reminders of sacrifice and loss weave through the idea of newness and hope represented by the youth of this school. The newer elementary school sign, bright with apple red and Lakewood blue, stands out against the “1914 Hebron School” in grey behind.
It was this mix of emotion that motivated the Hebron High School alumni association, who hold a very popular reunion each year for graduates of this predecessor of Lakewood’s school system, to find a way to honor the service of her many alums.
In 1999 they were able to set the marker near the Eighth and Deacon entrance of the Hebron School with the names of the seven graduates who have died in their nation’s service. From William Hammond, who died near Manila in some of the first attacks after Pearl Harbor, through Ralph Penick, Russell Blade, Harold Lees, John Ricketts, Carl Swint, and James Lyons, all lost in wars since 1941, these names had long been known to area residents, but lacked a memorial.
With this responsibility fulfilled, the committee quickly shifted their focus to the wide tradition of service that their school represents. Everyone knew that Hebron and Buckeye Lake, plus the southern half of Union Township, had long produced more than its share of soldiers, sailors, marines, aviators, and coast guards. How many would they number, if they could be tallied? What kind of monument could represent this living service, as well?
Through the early plans for Evans Park and the new municipal complex, a number of proposals and designs were considered. Emil Bogden volunteered architectural services to the committee that began to grow around the nucleus of the first workers, led by Donna Braig and Marian Davis.
The final design will be revealed and seen on Nov. 11 when five vets from the Memorial Committee will unveil the monument together: Homer Poorman, Sherman Clay, Denny Davis, Roland McCullough, and Jim Layton. Tim Byrd, a local contractor, has put in many hours of volunteer service, along with Fred Wright in design assistance.
Around this unveiling will be a program of solemn memory and joyful celebration, including a Honor Guards from the American Legion and VFW, music from the Lakewood Band, and a Pledge of Allegiance by students from today’s Hebron Elementary School.
Proclamations will be read by mayors of both Hebron and Buckeye Lake, and Lakewood superintendent Phil Herman assisted by former school board member Marian Davis will present some very special high school diplomas, to families of those who left school to serve and did not live to return to graduate.
The arrangements for this program and the reception following have been done by members of the committee like Betty McCullough, Annette Price, Ila Mason, Pearl Daubenmire, Betty Spurgeon, Mary Gochenbach, and Rob Springer.
For the last three years and more, the committee has used mailings, the media, and their own contacts in the community to pull together the names of anyone who has spent time in the Hebron school who went on to wear a uniform. These names aren’t easy to find, it turns out, and they hide in their numerousness like trees in a forest.
Fairly quickly, they realized that they would have to limit themselves to students as opposed to all area residents with a service record, and even at that the monument grew to accommodate more than 300, than 400, and on past 500 the honor roll went.
The plaques set for the dedication now number 590 names, and in fact five more names have come in since the foundry put words to metal. Committee members hope to add these five plus additional ones they fully expect will still come in at some future date.
On some future Veterans Day, or a Memorial Day, or perhaps even just some sunny day as the ball fields and playgrounds vibrate with laughter and activity, a new resident of Hebron as yet unborn will walk up a curved walkway, sit on a convenient bench, and lean forward to read some of the names on this monument. Those new memories, not yet formed, will come together because of the service dedicated and the work performed by both the veterans named and the committee’s ongoing efforts.
This memorial shows that memory goes forward as well as backward, as the community remembers a responsibility to future generations, to remind them of where their freedoms arose, to help the future be a place where the seven Gold Star names are still remembered.
And where we commit our efforts both at home and abroad that those gold stars will need no further company.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 11-09-03
By Jeff Gill

Did you see the Aurora Borealis?
Those are not words I ever thought I’d be using in a “Hebron Crossroads” column. But we did indeed have, way down yonder by the 40th parallel, a display of the fabled “northern lights” here across the night sky.
As Beggar’s Night was wrapping up on Oct. 30, for about an hour, a red glow folded into luminous ripples up and down the northern horizon steadily grew in intensity, spreading to the west and building in contrast. . .until it disappeared as suddenly as it sprang out of the heavens.
Some of us, greeting the hordes of trick-or-treaters (311 past our house until we ran out of all candy, cough drops, and sticks of gum), feared that there was a fire downtown. A little walkie-talkie action quickly confirmed that the lights were, like the end of the rainbow, everywhere and nowhere.
When the vast stage curtain effect became clearer, it suddenly hit me. My mom, back in the 50’s, once traveled to Alaska with her college choir, and described this very phenomenon to me when we studied the 49th state in 4th grade. And the internet had carried warnings earlier in the week of a large electromagnetic storm exploding from the surface of the sun that might affect the transmission grid in North America. If a, then b, so must follow c?
Of course, no phenomena in central Ohio have actually happened until Jym Ganahl confirms them, and at 11 pm he delightedly assured his viewers that Lake Erie was not, in fact, on fire, but that we were getting a display of the Aurora Borealis, such as hadn’t been seen ‘round here since long, long ago, and then some.
For sky geeks, Saturday night Nov. 8 is a total lunar eclipse (Jym will have details).

Tuesday is Veterans Day, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in keeping with the Armistice ending World War I that gave this observance its birth. Many of us will pause at the eleventh hour on that day for a moment of remembrance, and church bells will toll.
A bit after that, at 1 pm, we will make this a very memorable Veterans Day for the Hebron area, dedicating the memorial out at Evans Park on Refugee Road. There is more information on the front of this paper, and we all hope to see you there.

Election results? Well, this column isn’t a place for breaking news, but I can say this: just as wise Republicans knew when Clinton was elected president, and discerning Democrats understood when Bush was elected, we have our duly elected officials, and let us pray for them, help them fulfill the duties of their offices, and together work to make a better Hebron, finer Union and Licking Townships, and a continually improving Lakewood school district. The above statement stands no matter who was elected! And that’s the way it is. . .

Thanksgiving is coming up soon, on Nov. 27 this year. School holidays ahead include an early release on Wed., Nov. 19, and Tues. Nov. 25 is the last day of classes Thanksgiving week. Sunday evening beginning that week, at 7 pm on Nov. 23, a Community Thanksgiving Service sponsored by a number of area churches will be in the auditorium of Lakewood High School. The service will be youth led and presented, and an offering for Buckeye Lake LEADS food pantry will be gathered.
If you don’t have anything else to come and give thanks for, how about this weather? We can’t regret the frost when it comes after a glorious autumn like we’ve had, with the skies themselves making up for the color absent from most of the leaves.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and a confirmed sky geek. If you’re seeing strange lights in the sky, call him at 928-4066 or e-mail

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Community Booster 10-02-03
Just Vote!
By Jeff Gill

Mary Jo Long and Jean Weisert remember when a coin toss decided an election.
“You have to declare a winner before a recount can be requested,” Long said, “and the vote was even on the first round.” So a George Washington quarter was found and thrown for heads or tails.
One vote. Your vote. Can it be that important?
After the last presidential election, which repeated a national drama seen in Nixon versus Kennedy (one voter per precinct could have swung the result to the Republicans) or in Tilden vs. Ohio’s own Hayes (ditto for the Democrats), can anyone really doubt the importance of one vote, even on Tuesday, Nov. 4?
A recent visit to the Licking County Board of Elections, in the County Administration Building across from the Courthouse, showed a steady stream of absentee voters weeks ahead of county Election Day.
“Now when you press next to your choice, push through that chad so it pops out the back,” one elections clerk reminded folks at the counter. Americans know about chads nowadays, hanging, pregnant, and otherwise. Electronic methods may be on their way, but director Long (a Republican) and deputy director Weisert (a Democrat, as one of the checks and balances found in every electoral step from top to bottom of the process) are both certain that the old punch cards can give Licking County a reliable result, with a little help from the human factors.
“We’re expecting 100% turnout; we always want to see that,” declares Long. “We are preparing for about 45% in this non-federal election year. There are 99,119 total registered voters in the county, and we plan on seeing about 44,500 of them.”
Turnout is around 75 to 80% in presidential election years, which makes little sense to Long and Weisert. “These are the elections where you’re picking the people who really affect your day-to-day lives,” Long says. “And your vote counts very directly in local races for mayors, council members, township trustees, and school boards.” Weisert notes, “This should be the 80-plus percent election.”
From 6:30 am to 7:30 pm, voting locations will open all over the county, and over 488 pollworkers will put in fourteen hours days and more. By statute, there must be four pollworkers for each of the 122 precincts, working out of 69 locations. Paired Democrats and Republicans oversee each step in the process, ensuring fairness and impartiality.
These workers for democracy make $85 for their before sunrise and after sunset day, along with occasionally dealing with a citizen who is disgruntled to discover that they aren’t registered.
“According to the 1995 National Voting Rights Act, if someone does not vote in two subsequent federal elections, or in four years, we send that voter a card notifying them that their status may change,” explains Long. “Either that card needs to be sent back indicating that they wish to remain a registered voter, or if they take any action as a voter – signing a petition, voting in a primary, or voting in the next election – then we know they are still living at that address and are renewed as a registered voter.”
“It takes, in practice, at least eight years of inactivity for someone to lose their registered voter status,” Weisert adds.
Moving also requires a new registration, but if you were registered somewhere within Ohio, you can still vote as a “walk-in” voter, which will require a bit more paperwork and proof of identity.
The “Motor Voter” legislation, opening up the registration process, has made it easier to get registered as a voter, but has also led to some thinking they’re registered simply by getting their driver’s license or signing up for local services. “If you’ve never filled out a voter registration form, you’re not a registered voter,” explains Weisert.
And if you last voted for Ronald Reagan, you may not be registered any longer.
If you aren’t registered or have lapsed, it actually isn’t too early to start thinking about the next election. Long and Weisert were quick to point out that the next electoral event is the Presidential primary for Ohio on March 2, which makes the deadline for registration February 2. . .just three months away.
In fact, the Licking County Board of Elections (with two Democratic and two Republican members, of course) and the staff are constantly thinking about the next election. There can be as many as four cycles each year, with local school district levies, bond issues, charter amendments, and state issues to tally along with the usual slates of officials and representatives.
Will your one vote count? Absentee voting can be done until 5 pm in the Board offices on Monday, Nov. 3, and about 2,000 have done so already. Those citizens probably already know about Gore v. Bush, and some may remember that even the late, well-known Gov. James Rhodes had some “one vote per precinct” squeakers.
Some other notable ONE vote elections found on the internet:

In 1645, ONE vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England
In 1649, ONE vote caused Charles I of England to be executed
In 1845, ONE vote brought Texas into the Union
In 1868, ONE vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment
In 1876, ONE vote gave Rutherford B. Hayes the United States presidency
A slightly more technical site on-line from a statistician says that for elections of less than 100,000 voters, there should be a tie result in 1 out of every 30,000 races. The Board of Elections doesn’t keep track of such things, but they’re sure Licking County is well ahead of that prediction.
“We’re always prepared for that outcome, just in case,” said Long. Sounds like they’re prepared for everything: are you prepared to vote on Nov. 4?
On Election Day, Tuesday, November 4, the polls will open at 6:30 am and close at 7:30 pm, in 69 locations serving 122 precincts all across Licking County. Absentee voting can be done until 5 pm on Monday, Nov. 3, only at the Licking County Board of Election Offices on the first floor of the Hill County Administration Building across from the Courthouse in Newark.

Monday, October 27, 2003

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The Church Window – November 2003 Hebron Christian Church newsletter

Notes From My Knapsack

One of the best pieces of news at the Charlotte 2003 General Assembly was that, for the two years since the last GA, the Disciples of Christ have started the most new churches and welcomed the most new members since the 1920’s. Can I hear a “Hallelujah!”
Of course, a thoughtful observer might ask “But aren’t our total numbers, both congregational and membership, still declining?”
Yep. They sure are. No point in sugar coating the hard news, which is that years of what I’d call “deferred maintenance” in not starting new church plants in growing areas, while existing churches in rust-belt downtowns and grain belt rural areas are quite naturally aging and shrinking.
But that does not in any way erase the good news that a) the Disciples of Christ are fulfilling the Great Commandment (see end of Matthew’s Gospel), b) we’re doing it well enough to measure. If we keep doing both, the decline in membership will reverse, and is already leveling off. In areas of growth in the South and Southwest, we Disciples are being fruitful by multiplying.
What does this have to say to Christ’s Disciples here at Hebron Christian? Well, in another good news/bad news twist, a speaker at the pre-Assembly Evangelism Workshops handed around a demographic curve that shows the life cycle of established congregations. According to it, we should be, well, dead. . .congregationally speaking, that is.
Now, his point wasn’t that some places can’t break the curve: his point was, only about 5% of mainline congregations make it past 125 years. It is, all the data show, a natural lifecycle. Nothing personal, he says, but when a church he consults with says “that won’t be us,” he has to find a way to courteously ask “Why not? It could be, but you have to tell me why you belong in the 5% when the odds favor a bet on 95%.”
So here we are at 137 years and counting. That’s data right there. Another reason for optimism is that your elders, and the Program Planning Retreat, and trustees, are all looking at how prepared we are for coming challenges. We aren’t assuming that the past will look like the future, and this church is prioritizing both long-term maintenance and mission outreach in 2004 and beyond.
That times are tough fiscally is no surprise; that we continue to “praise God, share Christ, and grow in the Spirit” may be more surprising than we realize, and is quite possibly a sign that Jesus has some work for this congregation to do in the Hebron that is and is to come.
Let us give thanks!

In Grace & Peace,
Pastor Jeff

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Christian Church in Ohio Updates

At Charlotte, the Assembly welcomed and celebrated more than 140 new church starts since two years ago in Kansas City. Church Extension says that our success rate continues above 80%, which is exceptional.
In Ohio, we’ve had two: North Lima has “The Saturday Church at Glenellen,” which is exactly what it sounds like, meeting the needs of shift workers and others for whom Sunday morning is rarely time off. While the figure is well known that 65% of the US population is not within driving distance of a Disciples congregation, there’s access and then there’s access. This new option has brought many unchurched families into a new worship experience, supported by existing Disciples churches in the area.
And at Mentor, where their Campbellite roots go back before 1830, Mentor Christian Church hosts “Mision Cristiana Emanuel (DC),” a Latino congregation with Spanish-language services. This well-established Disciples congregation has found new vitality with the excitement of the young families and activities of this “daughter” church.
If you get National Geographic, look at the most recent (Nov.) issue in the Geographica section towards the front, which tells the story we heard in Charlotte very well.

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Youth News

Officers for the Hebron Christian Youth in 2003-4

Girl-Co’s: Julie McNichols & Whitney Mason
Boy-Co’s: David Cable & Josh Halter
Jr. Ldrs.: Jessica McNichols & Tracy Wildermuth
Communicators: Michael Scheidegger & Josh Walters
Treasurer: David Scheidegger

The youth are collecting “Coats For Kids (and Adults)” through Nov. 16, and they will offer the poinsettia sale, whose proceeds go to their “Adopt A Family For Christmas” plan.

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Community Thanksgiving Service

Lakewood Area Churches will come together at Lakewood High School’s auditorium on Sunday evening, Nov. 23, at 7 pm. Area youth and their advisors will provide the music and message, with an offering taken for the LEADS Buckeye Lake Food Pantry.

Come join us!

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Here’s what I read before the prayer time last Sunday (10-26). What I *didn’t* read at first is in parentheses, otherwise it’s verbatim.

(From LIFE Magazine, Jan. 7, 1946, by John DosPassos:)

The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick." A tour of the beaten-up cities (of Europe) six months after victory is a mighty sobering experience for anyone. (Europeans,) friend and foe alike, look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are disappointed in you as an American. They cite the evolution of the word "liberation." Before (the Normandy landings) it meant to be freed from the tyranny of the Nazis. Now it stands in the minds of the civilians for one thing, looting. . . .

When the British and American came the Viennese felt that at last they were in the hands of civilized people. But instead of coming in with a bold plan of relief and reconstruction
we came in full of evasions and apologies. . . .

We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease.

[Good thing we didn’t give up on Europe and come home, isn’t it?]
Hebron Crossroads 10-02-03
By Jeff Gill

Lots to share about activities ‘round the Hebron Crossroads in the week past and coming weeks, so read this column down to the end!
Beggar’s Night and the Lakewood Band Fall wrap-up concert are just past us, and Autumn is starting to hint at winter; seven Sundays to Christmas and counting down. . .

Monday night, Nov. 3, the Hebron Historical Society is meeting at 7:30 pm at the United Methodist Church of Hebron. Their program, in keeping with the slogan for our village of “Historic Crossroads of Ohio,” will add to the traffic of the National Road and the Ohio Canal with a presentation on “The Great Hopewell Road,” a two thousand year old construction from Newark to Chillicothe that passes through the boundaries of Hebron itself (just west of Evans Athletic Complex and the Municipal Building).
Oh, and I’m the presenter. Actually, you’ll get a good overview of the work of Dr. Brad Lepper of the Ohio Historical Society; or maybe an underview as I’ve been a regular spear-carrier for Brad through his many years of research in this area. But come and learn about the millennia of history that makes up the Hebron story.

And the next morning, bright and early at 6:30 am (OK, not so very bright then), the polls will open for Election Day. The faithful poll workers, those laborers for democracy who are your friends and neighbors, will put in more than thirteen hours in many cases to let you use your democratic rights to select leadership. Do your part, and show up to make your informed choice part of the results of this exercise in freedom.

Would you like some endorsements or recommendations? Keep on reading, but first. . .

On Veteran’s Day, Tuesday Nov. 11, at 1 pm, a grand gathering will be held at Evans Park on Refugee Road to dedicate a memorial to those out of the Hebron school who have served their nation. Many, many veterans names are on the plaques across the front of this monument, with three flagpoles standing behind. If anyone out of the Hebron schools who have served from WWI to the present have been missed, it’s not because the committee hasn’t tried to find them.
If you can join us for a program and ceremony that hallowed day, please come on out; you’ll read more on the cover of this paper next week.

Since my colleague Jimmy is taking a break, your Hebron correspondent snuck over the line into Buckeye Lake last week for the Buckeye Lake Youth Association Hallowe’en Party. They had hoped to have celebrity judges, but settled for who they could grab at the door. You don’t care about the judges, you want to know who won, right? Here they are:
For 13 and over, Breanna Jordan as HulaGirl; in the 10 to 12 category, Steven Hunt’s Mummy and Neal Sayatovich’s Lizoman won; among many 7 to 9 year olds, Victoria Diehl was a fine Cat Lady, and Darby Lasure had hand-made an amazing SpongeBob costume (yes, we sang the song).
For the 4 to 6 age group, Kelsey Atkins was an Angel (mom was silent on this point), and Zack Marlo was truly Zombie-like; in the youngest bracket, Amelia O’Neall was a convincing Dora the Explorer and Britanny at 6 months was a very quiet Kitty.
Over 100 kids got a great evening of fun, food, and activity out of the work of the Buckeye Lake Youth Association: congrats to all!

Hebron Elementary School’s PTO concluded their Fall Fundraiser with $10, 424 made for the activities and extras they support. At a pre-schoolday assembly, the top sellers were honored: Joshua Eastwood, Joshua Ricket, and Devin Chafin, with Mrs. Wagner’s class as the top selling room. Also winning recognition for their participation were Andrew Bransfield, Cassie Evans, Cameron Norman, and Jared Treadway. Good job to all involved!

Looking at the Hebron Gym and taking pictures for the PTO yearbook, I couldn’t help noticing that, even with quite a few students not at school yet, the stands were filled, end to end. I remembered that, in Donna Braig’s history of our area schools, she tells the story of how the School Board that built the Hebron School in 1914 was almost entirely voted out of office the next year for building too big and too nice a structure. Many of the same names were on the board when discussions began ten years later of how Hebron would expand the already cramped facility.
Did they regret their words in 1915? Had the irony occurred to them as they worked to build additions in the 20’s and the permanent structure they built in 1937, now that same gym?
I can’t help but wonder about those stories from our past as we prepare to make another chapter in Hebron’s history on Nov. 4. Some folks have chosen to run for village office claiming they can “stop growth.” For whatever your correspondent’s experience and knowledge is worth: anyone telling you that village officials can stop growth and freeze time in and around Hebron is either kidding themselves or not telling you the truth.
We do have a choice right now. The choice is between healthy growth, or unhealthy growth. We can have high-density, poorly-built housing, along with high-turnover marginal businesses as our future, or we can have a mix of housing types and designs for all income levels and putting a solid base under our property taxes, along with a diversity of industrial, distribution, and service-related businesses. That’s the choice. No growth presumes that the many purchases of frontage on US 40, the options and easements and proposals far to the east and west of Hebron’s village limits, let alone the already approved plans in Heath just north of Beaver Run and in Buckeye Lake just south of I-70, can be stopped by mayor and council.
Not gonna happen. We can’t stop the wave washing out of the maelstrom that is the Columbus metro area, but we can prepare, negotiate, and redirect developers and investors in the best interests of the Hebron that is and the Hebron that will be.
So this citizen, veteran, parent, and voter will be casting a ballot for Clifford Mason as mayor, and for Mike Halter on council. Jan Yocum has shown some awareness of these realities and issues, and I believe she can be an asset to council in the next term as well, but Cliff and Mike have shown a clear track record of controlling and managing growth, and have a clear picture of the challenges ahead.
Along with two choices for council, you can vote for two of three on Lakewood School Board, and the good news is that we can’t go wrong: pick two and promise to help the ones that win, and our students will benefit regardless. Good, clean, fair campaigning from Pam, Tim, and Forrest is appreciated by all of us in the district.
Our other village candidates have a “go back” agenda which I quite candidly think would be swamped and overturned by the coming wave, a surge that they seem to quietly imagine will pass us by. If you wonder at my endorsement, just consider driving around Pickerington, Reynoldsburg, Groveport, or Hilliard, and you’ll see my point. Will we stay ahead of the game, or just let it happen to us?
Or you can call me at 928-4066, or e-mail, and let the Hebron Crossroads know what you think!

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


The last three weeks of October are in reverse order (reverse for blogs, anyhow) posted together, since i'm travelling my hind end off the rest of the month: enjoy!

Hebron Crossroads 10-12-2003
By Jeff Gill

Fall colors are out all across the landscape; I refer of course to the broad spectrum of campaign signs seen all around the Hebron Crossroads.
Red, white, and blue; black and white; Buckeye scarlet and grey; Browns earth tones; public safety yellow and black. Every possible set of colors is in use, and they are part of the lively conversation that is democracy. Voices, letters to the editors, talks across tables strewn with coffee cups and disemboweled newspapers, color schemes on signage; all help keep the discussion going.
The Hebron Lions are sponsoring a public discussion of sorts: a “Meet the Candidates” night at Hebron Elementary’s gym on Tuesday, October 14 at 7:00 pm. All candidates have been invited for offices relating to the Hebron area. Your friendly correspondent will be the moderator, and questions will be written down by those attending, passed up to yours truly, and I’ll assemble them together into a common set of queries to ask following three minute statements by each candidate.
Some unopposed offices won’t have representatives there, although I’m told John W. Slater will appear as sole candidate for Union Township trustee. We’ll have Lakewood school board candidates, those running for Hebron council, and the mayoral seekers each in turn by office.
I’m looking forward to asking your questions and hearing the candidate answers, and kudos to Hebron Lions for putting on this new tradition for our village.
By the way, all signs are required by the county Board of Elections, whether handmade or store-bought, to have contact info even if in small print on the lower edge. . .a word to the wise. . .

It is good to see that most offices are contested. A healthy sign for democracy is a number of candidates, not a long run of unopposed elections. We have a conversation going on through Hebron village council and our regular planning and zoning meetings about the pace and scope of growth in this area, and the election is just one more stage in the ongoing discussion.
Our current crop of village officials have done a good job of “managing” growth, which in truth can’t be halted (private property being part of the Great American Conversation, y’know), but can be kept within certain reasonable bounds. Dominion Homes builds 200 homes, not 400; apartments have certain requirements to be met even when the owner wants to maximize their income off of their part of an acre.
More is not always better, and less is certainly not always more. What makes for the right mix between Heath’s expansion toward Beaver Run Road and Columbus’ surge from the west will be the context for our elections for many, many years to come.
So support this great new initiative by the Hebron Lions on Tuesday, October 14, which we’ll no doubt be thankful for as a long-standing tradition in the coming election cycles. Let your candidates speak, and ask them your questions; that’s what makes democracy the only spectator sport for real grownups!

Community Youth Mapping is beginning in our area this week. Young people may come to your door or to your business, asking your perception of what makes for good activities for youth and families. This program out of the county Children and Families First council is part of a county wide effort to identify assets and strengths, as opposed to focusing on problems and needs.
If we can target the effective youth-serving programs in Licking County and help them to grow, we’ll really have something! Give those “youth mappers” the benefit of your best sense of what’s good in our community, and I look forward to sharing with you the results.

Three calendar notes to share: A Baked Steak dinner is offered at the United Methodist Church of Hebron on Saturday, October 25, from 4:30 PM. The Price is $5.50 for adults, $2.00 for children, and carryouts are available.
Hebron “Beggars Night” will be on Thursday, October 30, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm; don’t forget to put your porch light on if you welcome trick-or-treaters, and turn it off if you’re not involved.
And, well in advance but exciting news: the Veterans’ Memorial Committee for Hebron announces that on Veteran’s Day, November 11, at 1 pm, a dedication is scheduled out at Evans Park on Refugee Road. We’ll have more to share soon, but mark that date and time on your calendar now. It is after Election Day on November 4, but plan now to join us if you can as Hebron honors her veterans out of the Hebron school.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and your “Meet the Candidates” night moderator Oct. 14 at 7 pm in the Hebron Elementary gym; if you have electoral notes to offer, call 928-4066 or e-mail

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Hebron Crossroads 10-19-2003
By Jeff Gill

With the harvest well on the way to the storehouse (aka garner, silo, bins, or elevator), and the leaves mostly on the lawns, we are deep in the heart of autumn.
Next weekend, we “fall back” an hour, and the circadian rhythms have to go through what is, for me at least, the most jarring reset in the calendar.
Many of us have recently experienced one of the rites of fall: school pictures.
To no one’s surprise here in the home of the Little Guy, pix week came with visible facial blemishes (thanks to one of the myriad colds circulating at school, church, and playground).
But modern photographic technology has the answer. One option they offer in the school package is “Soft Impressions,” which allows the parent to blur the child’s face into Hollywood style soft focus (kind of like shooting Cybill Shephard thru a filter on “Moonlighting”). Or you can trust the rapid healing properties of youth and the fact that you’re recording the facts of growth, not the myths of idyllic childhood, and capture warts, raw nose, and all.
Actually, the whole range of choices left me thinking about how much more challenging parenting is these days. Aside from hazards of drugs and debauchery unknown (we like to think) in past generations, did our parents have to choose between eight primary selection packages, a dozen shades of backdrop (wasn’t it a glorified window blind they pulled down behind all of us?) ranging from fuschia to teal, and among stickers, key fobs, and screensaver CD-ROMs?
I really think my mom had to decide between four wallet sized or eight, and whether or not to slick my ill behaved hair down with Vaseline (she didn’t).
The decision of what to wear on school picture day, on the other hand, has been a parenting challenge throughout the ages.
Mrs. Lincoln: “Little Abe, are we goin’ to pull on the linsey-woolsey trousers, or wear those patched ol’ leather breeches?” Mrs. Madison: “Lil’ Jemmy, what in Heaven’s name did you do with the buckles on your knickers? Those buff colored hose will never go with the butternut jerkin in your portrait by the travelin’ painter fellow.” Mrs. Hezekiah: “Young Adonijah, what have you done with your good twist o’ leather to gird your loins? This scrap of burlap can’t look right carved into a mud tablet.”
We will probably end up with 144 stamp sized photos, a mural adhesive picture suitable for sticking to the living room wall, and eight of that “in-between” size that you can’t send to the grandparents and is a little too large for sending to old college friends with the Christmas letter. We also didn’t pick the Hanukkah dreidel with his picture embedded in Lucite on one side; that will have to wait for another year.

On a slightly more serious note, Hospice of Central Ohio would like to offer a special program to the southern half of Licking County.
Are you a “Caregiver”? Are you part of the “sandwich” generation, with children in school and parents who need special care to allow them to stay in their homes, or just to support a better quality of life in a care facility? Do you need to hear how others deal with the stresses, the strains, and the rewards of caring for a family member of friend as the bridge between formal medical care and the loving community each of us wants to have around us?
“Meeting the Challenges of Caregiving” is a four week series that will start on Thursday, October 30, at 7:00 pm. Hebron Christian Church will host the program, run by the caring professionals of Hospice of Central Ohio, on that date and November 6, 13, and 20 in their meeting room at 612 W. Main next to the church building.
The series is free and open to anyone whether currently providing caregiving services to a friend or family member, or simply if you expect to be in that position someday. . .which pretty much could describe almost any of us.
If you have questions or would like more information, call Hospice at (740) 344-0311 or (800) 804-2505.

Don’t forget: next Saturday, a “Baked Steak dinner” is offered at the United Methodist Church of Hebron on October 25, from 4:30 PM. The Price is $5.50 for adults, $2.00 for children, and carryouts are available. And that night, set your clocks back one hour, and change your smoke detector batteries!

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and a strong advocate for the life affirming work of the Hospice movement. If you have tales of caregiving or news of local interest, call 928-4066 or e-mail

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Hebron Crossroads 10-26-2003
By Jeff Gill

Beggar’s Night at the Hebron Crossroads is Thursday night from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
You can, if you wish to participate, turn on your porch light, and leave it off if you’d rather the trick-or-treaters pass your door by.
Some folks just set out a bowl of candy on a folding chair when they’re forced to be away, and the interesting thing about Hallowe’en is that you rarely hear of that strategy going awry. As with Mark Twain’s death, reports of October 31 related misbehavior are often greatly exaggerated.
On this night of costumed and sugared excess, certain proprieties are observed. There are always a few visitors who seem a bit too old for the sport (I keep a bag of carrots near the door for them), and once in a great while the campaigners for the next week’s election get turned around on dates and show up all too well disguised as politicians: otherwise, the kids are alright, as The Who once said. I’ve seen Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey on Beggar’s Night, along with Mick Jagger, Benjamin Franklin, and He-Man, plus Ariel, Pocahontas, and Cinderella.
Last year I got Fidel Castro (he had no idea how scary he was), Mickey Mouse, a giant M&M, a pair of dice (twins), and Gumby. This year I’m curious to see if anyone pulls off Nemo or Dory, or Arianna Huffington would be a scary choice in my book, and I hear the Incredible (Mini) Hulk may make an appearance in our neighborhood.
Some neighborhoods get their hundreds, and others have but a few nearby visitors, depending on the arrival of van loads from isolated spots in the township. You can eye this practice cynically, but if there’s a “thank you” behind the mask or make-up, I really don’t care where the kid lives. And I hear many more thanks than grunts each year from the parade of princesses, wrestlers, ballerinas, and spidery-juveniles.
Can you forgive a bit of preaching? This pastor notes that, while there are “so-called” pagan roots of Hallowe’en, the word pagan itself comes from a root meaning “the countryside, *paganos*.” Folk tradition around the turn of the seasons, with shortening days and skeletal trees against ghostly moons, was gathered in by the early Christian church to be baptized into their calendar as a day to honor the dead in faith, the saints or “hallowed dead” of the Church Eternal, on November 1. That makes the eve of All Hallows’ commemoration “All Hallows’ Eve,” or to adapt the Old English, Hallowe’en, October 31.
The flickering light of life, glowing out across the harvested fields from a hollowed vegetable shell, whether turnip, gourd, or pumpkin, echoed the light of God placed within the human form. In a day when the ravages of illness and death were more clearly and regularly seen by young and old alike, the nighttime meaning of the Jack O’Lantern was reassuring and hopeful, not scary and dreadful.
Our need to laugh at the growing dark and sing out our faith in light’s certain return is well expressed by the best of Hallowe’en traditions. The sweetness of youth, and age’s acknowledgment that life is a gift to be given to the young are all a wonderful part of this “frightful” holiday. We mock the power death claims over life, and celebrate the end of one season rooted in the deeper promise of brighter, longer days to come.
Sounds like a holiday worth celebrating, right? In the right way, anyhow, as with most celebrations, even including the pagan rituals of Buckeye victories. . .
Outhouse tipping, thankfully, is a relic of the unlamented past, and let’s keep any newer property damage related pranks in your trick-or-treat bag. . .or there’s a costumed crusader (not caped) who will show you a few tricks with handcuffs and citations to appear before an ominously robed individual.
Honor the best that Hallowe’en represents, and you’ll find a depth to this season you may have missed!

Don’t forget on your own calendar that Election Day is Tuesday, November 4, and that the Veterans’ Memorial Committee for Hebron announces a Veteran’s Day, November 11 dedication at 1 pm in Evans Park on Refugee Road. We’ll have more to share soon, but mark that date and time on your calendar now. Plan now to join our community if you are available as Hebron honors her veterans out of the Hebron school.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and father of a little Hallowe’en celebrator; if you have seasonal insights or tales of the Great Pumpkin, call 928-4066 or e-mail Mark All Hallows’ Eve responsibly, and let’s all be here in November to celebrate Thanksgiving!