Monday, March 7, 2011

San Angelo Presbyterian Challenge

First appeared in the San Angelo Standard-Times Texas, USA

The Challenge at First Presbyterian Church and an old Scottish Painter

Every now and again there comes into our lives an event that causes us to “study ‘bout” it, as my dear grandmother often said. And when the tale is grim and not to our liking, or interferes with our lives and routine, a great deal of humor is desperately needed at such a time. A sense of humor helps offset an appalling, heartbreaking catastrophe.

I am not sure how many Tom Green County citizens are aware of the local church that almost fell in on itself. It was within inches of crumbling rocks, bricks and clouds of dust, showers of splinters and a million and one stained glass fragments. The fragility of the 103-plus year-old wooden beams holding things together were evidently giving up the ghost. This “Sword of Damocles” (to paraphrase the ancients) became evident last summer to the fellowship of the First Presbyterian Church on the corner of College and Irving, San Angelo, Texas.

No, nothing fell on Pastor William Proctor’s head or crushed the pulpit while he was preaching. There was no panic in the pews. News of the urgency of the situation came as an announcement that the following Sunday worship services would be held in the Wood Fellowship Hall. The problem was discovered days earlier while some alert members were looking into another problem in the attic.

Apparently wood like people, with time, does reach a point of feebleness. As with humans the vulnerability of such frailty needs tender and delicate attention. As experts were brought in, the ailing beams were only part of the problem. Proctor told me that “the walls of the sanctuary were bowing out at the top by around four to six inches on each side – not a good situation.”

What could possibly be humorous about such a fate? Nothing. But the ailing wooden beams and my flabby muscles made it a perfect time to cease solving the word’s problems (for a season) and share with the readers three things:

(1) Share a harrowing local story. (April is the date Rev. Proctor hopes the sanctuary can be safe again and services held as usual. Watch for the announcement
(2) Remind us old fogies our muscles can be renewed just as wood beams, with attention.
(3) Share a funny old story. I do not know the author. It was sent to me by Perry Flippin, whom everybody knows is a former San Angelo Standard-Times editor. So if you don’t like the tale, blame him. Here is the story:

There was a Scottish tradesman, a painter called Jack, who was very interested in making a pound where he could. So he often would thin down his paint to make it go a wee bit further. As it happened, he got away with this for some time.

Eventually the Presbyterian Church decided to do a big restoration job on one of their biggest churches. Jack put in a painting bid and because his price was so competitive, he got the job. And so he set to, with a right good will, erecting the trestles and putting up the planks, and buying the paint and ... yes, I am sorry to say, thinning it down with the turpentine.

Well, Jack was up on the scaffolding, painting away, the job nearly done, when suddenly there was a horrendous clap of thunder. The sky opened and the rain poured down, washing the thin paint from all over the church and knocking Jack far off the scaffold to land on the lawn.

Now, Jack was no fool. He knew this was a judgment from the Almighty, so he fell on his knees and cried, "Oh, God! Forgive me! What should I do?"

And from the thunder, a mighty Voice spoke in answer to Jack the painter’s prayer: "Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!"

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