Tonight we are staying with Grant and Fern Brown at their home in Medford, Wisconsin. For the record, Medford is a beautiful little town in north central Wisconsin, about six hours north of Chicago. To get here we drove from Chicago to Rockford to Madison to Stevens Point to Wassau where you head west until you hit Highway 13 and then venture north through the rolling hills and forests whose trees have almost completely lost their leaves. The weather today was clear and crisp, good football weather. At a local gas station we learned that Wisconsin lost to Ohio State this afternoon, but the Badgers put up a good fight.
After graduating from seminary Grant pastored a church on the far western slopes of Colorado, not far from the Utah border. I remember one year when we stopped by to see them while we were on vacation. Later Grant became the pastor of Woodland Community Church in Westboro, WI, about 15 miles up the road from Medford. He and I stayed in touch over the years, talking shop and trading sermon ideas. Once he shared with me an alphabet sermon series on various Bible characters, the first one starting with A, the second with B, and so on. I liked it so much that I adapted it for a Wednesday night series in Oak Park. And every year when Grant came to Chicago in May for the Moody Pastors’ Conference, he and I ate lunch at Lalo’s Mexican Restaurant in Oak Park, getting caught up on family news and solving the problems of the world. I remember that we laughed a lot.
Several years ago I agreed to speak at a pastors’ conference Monday-Wednesday at Camp Forest Springs, which is located deep in the woods a few miles from the church. When Grant asked if I would come a day early, speak at the church, and take part in his ordination council, I said yes and that’s why we’re here tonight.
We got an extra bonus when we discovered that Laura had come in from Minneapolis for the weekend. I don’t think we’ve seen her in almost 15 years. She is a gifted printmaker who no doubt has a promising future in that field. When we lived in Garland in the mid-80s, Andy and Alice McQuitty lived down the street, Grant and Fern were nearby and so were George and Lylene Murrell, John and Karen Grassmick and Jim and Shelly Nichols. Our kids got to know each well and so we all became good friends.
We’re having a wonderful time in Medford tonight. As the years pass, reconnecting with old friends becomes more important. Tomorrow we start with morning worship, continue with the ordination council in the afternoon followed by a churchwide potluck supper at 5:30 PM and the ordination service at 7 PM. Marlene and I are delighted to be part of a momentous day of celebration for a good friend who has served the Lord faithfully for many years.