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A Pastor I Appreciate, part one

October 17, 2022

October has become Pastor Appreciation Month in many churches. With that as my filter, a quick glance up at my rearview mirror shows some past pastors I appreciate. Here’s one now —

My parents and I landed at the First Methodist Church of Centralia, IL when I was in either kindergarten or first grade. The place was packed. We sat in the back. Our second Sunday there we sat in the second row so I could more easily see what was going on up front.

Dr. Roland A. Lippman was an imposing presence. He was also warm and welcoming. At the handshake times at the door after worship, he hunkered down to my height, enveloped my hand in his, and even answered my questions. (Simple, everyday ones like, “Why don’t we have Jesus on the Cross like the ones at the hospital do?” and “That Creed says ‘for us men and for our salvation’ — what about my mom and me?” I still quote his answers to those two regularly.)

When my mother and I were moving to Belleville, IL, she asked him for a recommendation of a church. He immediately named the downtown Union Methodist Church. He told her that he knew and trusted the Senior Pastor and the people of the church because he’d worked with them. He quickly added that there were many good Methodist Churches in the area and that we couldn’t go wrong in picking any of them, but to always feel welcomed back home in Centralia First Methodist Church.

Perhaps most significantly, he let me join the church when I was 9 years old after completing Confirmation Class with sixth graders. He said several nice things about me during worship on Confirmation Sunday.

He was a major influence in both style and substance over the years, and I miss him.

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