Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Hebron Crossroads 10-31-04
By Jeff Gill

Set your clock back? Good. Changed your smoke alarm batteries? Smart. Ate all the left-over candy from Beggar’s Night? Ooooo. . .Pepto-time.
At our corner of the Hebron Crossroads, such temptation is non-existent. We scrape the root cellar and give out cough lozenges one at a time towards the end of the evening, some 300 kids later, and still have to go lights-out at 7 pm (village council, take note!) when the laggard goblins come ‘round the streetlight.
Tuesday morning, 6:30 am, the Legion Hall will be lit and busy as Election Day 2004 opens up, with balloting to 7:30 pm. Say thank you to the pollworkers, many of whom put in 15 hour days and more to keep democracy ready for you to choose.
And choose who? (Or rather, whom; thank you, Mrs. Froberg.) For county commissioner, Phelps and Bubb are the obvious choices for experience and proven competence; with the new domestic court judge, we are fortunate to have five very qualified candidates amongst whom we cannot lose, but knowing Mrs. Green, I have to go with familiarity first! Dave Daubenmire has shown that he knows education and how to take a hit, both in athletics and the court of public opinion, and deserves his turn on the state board of education. State Supreme Court is tougher, but Chief Justice Moyer and Justice O’Donnell have presided over the mangling of the DeRolph school funding case, which leaves me thinking “anyone but him.”
Hallelujah and Lakewood has no levies on the ballot; for our friends and readers far and abroad, may the Newark and Granville taxes pass with vigor . . . we need strong educational systems in efficient buildings all around Licking County for economic development, so even Flint Ridge Road or the Northbank Drive have an interest in seeing other districts pass needed levies.
Countywide, the Senior levy and the Children’s Services levy are equally well-proven to be public interests that are needed, well-run, and beneficial even to those who never come into direct contact with their work.
One way community members can enjoy the benefits of our local educational system is to come to the Lakewood Band Highlights concerts, Friday and Saturday nights Nov. 5 & 6 at 8 pm. The $5 tickets almost always sell out before the performances (which the band also does for the elementary and middle schools), which you can get from band members, or by calling the Performing Arts hotline at 928-4496.
Speaking of which, congrats to Martha Fickle and the Lakewood Drama program for a section front picture and article in a (ahem) publication dispatched from Columbus. This is credit and plaudits long overdue for a real credit to our community right up there with baseball and band.
Back in town, Hebron Elementary School, built in 1914 and significantly added to and modified four times, has more students in it as a K-3 building (approaching 400) than it did for most of the years it was a twelve grade facility.
We have a marvelous piece of both history and community focus here, and some are concerned that the future might lead to closing this building, or selling it as was done in Jacksontown.
For all the charm and heritage our Hebron School has, with steps to nowhere and halls askew, 90 years weigh heavy on the prospects for flexibility and adaptation. Its very solidity will work against it as upgrades and connections are needed within the walls.
I was thinking about this as I read an e-mail from my mom about the end of the Kansas Bulldogs, a school in east-central Illinois which began as a comprehensive of grades 1 through 8, added to 12, and then shrank down to lower grades even as kindergarten was added. A recent consolidation in this declining, rural area left it unnecessary. My Grandfather Walton was a teacher, principal, and finally superintendent for the Kansas School, coaching basketball and, most cruelly, teaching algebra to my mother (who thinks still there should be laws about having your own children in class, especially math).
Mom went on to teach herself, following the example of Grandpa’s two sisters, who began when marriage was outlawed for teachers (so they never did), and though she was allowed to be married and teach in 1960, she had to hide my coming into the world until her pregnancy was too obvious, as she would be – and was – fired upon the principal’s awareness of the same.
Times have changed. I listened to one of our Hebron teachers talk to two moms in the hall about her early pregnancy, without fear that administration would hear. Unlike Kansas, Illinois, these Hebron, Ohio crossroads are growing and vital, lending an ongoing lease on life to these lovingly renovated halls.
And while the signs outside and students within might change, I will long treasure the sight of a lost corridor, half sealed into a closet in a corner behind a chamber, where a stretch of 1914 stenciling above antique wainscoting can be seen today, unchanged from when the first students saw it. . .probably on their way to Hygiene class. History is right around the corner, if you know where to look and take the time for it.

Jeff Gill is a local historian, archaeologist, and writer with a taste for irony and the unexpected; if you have news or tales of local interest, e-mail him at disciple@voyager.net.
Notes From My Knapsack -- November 2004 "The Church Window"

Not so very long ago (as stories nowadays seem to start), most everybody had jobs from 9 to 5 somewhere nearby, had dinner at 6, watched their news at 6:30, and on Sunday went to church past closed stores at 10 or 10:30, where all the cars on the streets were going.

And now today: work schedules vary from week to week, shift to shift, food on the fly, news on demand 24/7, and church . . .

These have been interesting times to serve as a parish pastor. Even shut-ins are often out, let alone finding families together. Ministry has always been an on-call calling, but for all of us in congregational leadership, from home communion by the elders, trying to catch new visitors at home, to when to hold women’s fellowship meetings -- the needs, demands, and expectations of church scheduling have expanded far beyond even 24/7. This is not a Hebron thing, it is an everywhere thing.

With my service as pastor coming to an end shortly, I leave knowing that we have navigated the turbulent waters of a time of change very well in some ways. Bright spots include the clearing out and opening up and better use of the lower level of the main building, and expansion of Sunday school into the old parsonage, with the improvement of the office space there as well; the vitality of the summer early service; the capital campaign securing the property to our east and the organ campaign for our sanctuary, plus pew Bibles. Lenten efforts to deepen faith through reading the Bible and sharing “The Purpose Driven Life” were well received, and our youth continue to be an example for all of us in witness and service, on 5th Sundays and beyond. Darker spots, but a valley of shadow we must all travel through, have been the many, many funerals we have shared together, looking to the Light that guides us. There is work that is unfinished in strengthening marriages and combating addictions of many sorts that will, that must continue.

Less successful has been our work together in reforming and renewing our policies and procedures for shaping congregational leadership and life for the new day already dawned around us. Much remains to be done. The “Emergent Church” movement has much to show us about what worship and mission will look like when our hearts are open to God’s activity in the world for which “He gave His only begotten Son.”

Many kind folks have said to me “I’m not happy that you’re leaving!” C.S. Lewis, the great Christian writer, says in the movie “Shadowlands,” “I'm not sure God particularly wants us to be happy. He wants us to be able to love, and be loved. He wants us to grow up. We think our childish toys bring us all the happiness there is, and our nursery is whole wide world. But something must drive us out of the nursery, to the world of others. And that something is suffering.”

We have wrestled with Scripture together, and puzzled over the writings of Rick Warren and Herb Miller; you’ve been patient (mostly!) with my confidence that our elders and leaders can handle Lesslie Newbigin and Alasdair MacIntyre in chunks, too. As I step back from parish ministry for a time, I’ve posted some reflections at http://epicycles.blogspot.com for those who have the patience for poetry.

For everyone, Joyce and Chris and I will be at 120 Bantry St., Granville OH 43023 after Christmas, and our vocations – mine and Hebron Christian’s – will intersect again, either around this historic crossroads, or at the foot of the Cross.

In Grace & Peace,
Pastor Jeff