Monday, January 19, 2004

Hebron Crossroads 1-25-04
By Jeff Gill

While I enjoy writing this column very much, my day (and night) job is that of pastor. This section could easily become an extension of the eulogies I preach or hear at the funerals of some wonderful people whose presence we lose week to week around the Hebron Crossroads, like Frank DeVaul a few weeks ago, or Nancy Pugh right before Christmas.
So rather than miss someone who deserves the mention, I generally don’t spend much time on obituary notices here. But we lost another good one from our company recently, and personally I want to offer a few words about this fine lady.
Betty Friend was not so much a pillar as a foundation stone of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church. Monsignor Meagher spoke eloquently of Betty’s commitment to service and ministry in the congregation at her funeral mass. With a business on Main Street in Hebron and volunteer work at Licking Memorial Hospital, she was truly a friend to many throughout the wider community, and welcomed this preacher when he became a neighbor in 1999. On many occasions we would consult together in finding ways to care for distressed travelers along the old National Road passing us both by.
Less than two days before her death she spoke to me about how well her bypass surgery had gone, how much better she was feeling, and of her plans for the future. We talked about some disagreements we’d had recently, and closed the conversation with cheerful fellowship in Christ, even if we didn’t totally agree on every subject. Her death was a real loss to our community, let alone to her family who will miss her greatly.
Jim Friend, who has retired from village council as he looks to care for his mother’s legacy in Hebron, has our prayers and good wishes for the future, and we will all miss his mother, our Friend.
Annelle Porter, a member of Hebron Village council these last five years, was elected president of council, the first woman to hold the position as far as records can confirm. Some would also argue that, for a few hours at least, she then became the first lady mayor while Cliff Mason had some routine surgery and was under anesthetic. Cliff is doing fine now, and Annelle is also no worse the wear for her term (no matter how short) in the chief executive spot: but what do we call Dave Porter? First Spouse? First Guy of Hebron? That’s a tough one. . .
If you read this before Saturday night Jan. 24, make plans to eat dinner with the Lakewood Drama Club at Jacksontown United Methodist Church between 4:30 and 8 pm. They’ve got a plateful of spaghetti with your name on it, and you need to go eat it and hand our local Thespians a few bucks to pay for it. This Spring they plan to perform “The Wizard of Oz,” and each dinner means one more Munchkin costume, so eat hearty!
Speaking of food, with the Super Bowl set between the Patriots and the Panthers on Feb. 1, don’t forget the “Souper Bowl of Caring” on that date, where area churches and food pantries invite you to buy a can of soup for every snack item you buy for Feb. 1, and add to the collection for your area food pantry that week. Most of our area churches welcome your canned goods on any Sunday, but especially in this slack period after the Christmas season, which brings in much generosity but also often ends in barren shelves. Help them restock with “Souper Bowl” Sunday.
With the “time delay” of writing and printing in a weekly paper, you can’t get too much breaking news, but let me go out ahead of even the Iowa caucuses (which you no doubt know the results of by now) and make a prediction. It’s a pre-Iowa prediction, and you can ask my wife if it wasn’t my Jan. 18 forecast. This isn’t an endorsement, but something even more risky: a prediction. You will see the only realistic Democratic candidates in a few weeks as John Kerry and John Edwards, as of March 1. That’s my call, and you can laugh at me later if, like most predictions, they prove askew.
On the other hand, if I’m right, you have to read this column all the way to November at the very least to find out, don’t you?
And if you want to vote in primary elections for Ohio (when the Dem field may well still need weeding, friends), you need to be registered in just the next two weeks. Do it now, OK? Our county commissioners and a number of local elections will also be in play, and need your input. Time’s a wastin’ if you want to vote absentee, as well.
There are folks who have useful news who send it to me too late, forgetting that “two weeks ahead” rule to give me even a chance to print the announcement before the event. And sometimes even I forget that factor! Last week was the Martin Luther King Jr. observance, and in honor of the civil rights movement the holiday celebrates and with the words of the man himself, may I offer this belated tribute: from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, April 1963:
“Was not Jesus an extremist for love - "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice - "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ - "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist - "Here I stand; I can do no other, so help me God." Was not John Bunyan an extremist - "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist - "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist - "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
So the question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice - or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?
In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill, three men were crucified. We must not forget that all three were crucified for the same crime - the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thusly fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment.”

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and proud to share a calling with MLK, Jr. If you have historical events to share or news of local interest, call 928-4066 or e-mail him at