Wednesday, August 25, 2004

post date: August 25, 2004
1:22 PM This morning Shirley Banta, longtime church secretary at Calvary, moved from West Suburban Hospital, where she had been recovering from a fractured hip, to a nursing home in Quincy. She made the move in order to be closer to her family. Shirley's husband, a Southern Baptist preacher, died in 1968. The next year she moved to Oak Park to become church secretary under the leadership of Pastor Bob Gray. She took the place of Gert Woomer, who was our first fulltime church secretary. Shirley served through the remainder of Pastor Gray's tenure, during the interim, throughout the tenure of Pastor Don Gerig, and through the interim again. When I came as pastor in 1989, she was still serving as church secretary, although she was past retirement age. Several years later, the church provided a small pension for her that made it possible for her to retire. She continued to attend the services and was active in the church as much as possible. In recent years she would sit on the back row with Minnie Fahler and Gloria Ahlenius. I made it a point to stop every Sunday and talk to "the girls" and tease them about chewing gum and writing notes. Over the years Shirley would clip out cartoons and send them to me with a note of encouragement attached. Last night Marlene and I went to see her in the hospital. She was in excellent spirits, and seemed happy to be making the move. When I asked her when we would see her again, she said we could see her anytime we wanted. All we have to do is come to Quincy. I said that's fine, but I'll have to find out where Quincy is first. Shirley spoke with affection about how Pastor Gray and his wife June befriended her in those early days. She said, "I was from the country, and they made me feel at home in the city." She said the hardest times were when the church had no pastor. She ran the office and kept things together and it seemed like she had a dozen bosses. People who do not work in a church have no idea of what church secretaries do. They generally don't get much recognition, and they probably don't get big salaries, and sometimes they have to deal with grumpy church members and cranky staff members. A good secretary is hard to find, and a great one is worth her weight in gold. Shirley was a great one. She knew where everything was, she could answer any question, she knew how to juggle six projects at once, and she enjoyed dealing with people and their problems. She bailed out every pastor she ever served on more than one occasion. And she had a wonderful sense of humor that made the church office a fun place to visit. It occurred to me last night that the majority of our current attenders have no idea who Shirley Banta is since she retired over a decade ago. Take it from me. She was the best. We love her and we will miss her. She will always be a part of the Calvary family. 10:36 AM My Crosswalk entry on "Paul Hamm and the Improbable Providence of God" was included in this week's Christian Carnival, a collection of Christian weblog entries from across the Internet. 6:20 AM We have sent out quite a few free copies of An Anchor for the Soul recently. We donate copies to prison ministries, those serving in the Armed Forces, disaster relief ministries, and to missionaries. Here are the most recent donations: June 10 Campus Crusade for Christ Military Ministry, San Antonio—2000 copies. June 10 Paul Brush, Berwyn, for soldiers in Iraq—15 copies. August 15 First Baptist Church, Bellefonte, PA, prison ministry—25 copies. August 16 Kimberly Wolfe, Bangot, PA, prison ministry, 50 copies. August 24 Missionary Boat "Glory to Thee," 250 copies. August 24 Dr. Bob Cosby, Logansport, IN, jail ministry, 100 copies. August 24 Leslie Fisher, prison ministry in Georgia, 100 copies. August 24 Joel and Dorothy Ayres, Oak Park, IL prison ministry, 50 copies. We also sell copies at a very low cost for churches to use in their evangelistic outreach. The money we receive goes toward purchasing more free copies for the uses mentioned above. Special thanks to Scott and Doreen Mahlstedt for providing this information.

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