My family hails from the coal fields of Southwestern PA where my husband Ron and I lived our whole lives until about 25 years ago. We raised two boys – Chris and Greg who are as diverse as night and day. One would read the dictionary in his free time and the other – well, we were informed 3 days before the ceremony that he could graduate with his high school class. Any time the church doors were open, we would be there. The boys were resigned to being among the last people to leave the building on Sunday’s as they were the Waynesburg Presbyterian Church’s version of the GNP. Being
a PK, I didn’t know any different. That’s how I was raised!
Ron was an underground coal miner (for 20 years, 4 days and 16 hours) providing a good living for our family but at a high cost physically. He had been drafted into the US Army during the Vietnam era serving in Europe providing supplies to the troops in the battlefield. I met and married him 6 months after his discharge. A few years later I was pregnant with our oldest son when his mine had an explosion and he was called in to help rescue the 9 men who were missing. The mission was unsuccessful – after about a week the mine was sealed to stop the fire. I did and still do consider him one of the bravest people I know.
I was the office manager of an independent insurance/real estate agency and gradually turned my focus towards the Residential Appraisal Divison and started 35 years as an appraiser’s assistant which I’m still doing to this day. I love delving into deeds, tax records and plat maps!
We both were very supportive of the local Habitat for Humanity and since coal was being phased out, Ron applied for the position of Construction Manager at a chapter in St Louis. Needless to say, he didn’t get the job. We had already sold our house and needed to move. Up until then we had been traveling to a little town outside of Raleigh for 10 years or so to visit my parents (who had retired there), my grandfather and my sister. The area had great opportunities for our boys so we moved into my grandfather’s place and I became part of an appraisal firm in Raleigh; Ron went to work with my brother-in-law who was a mason. After a couple of years, one of my firm’s subcontractors who lived in and served the Kinston area asked me to come work for him, so we moved again. Two years later when my boss moved to Wilmington we followed him here. By this time, Ron was in bad health but I was able to work from home and care for him.
The boys and I would visit different churches around town, but when it occurred to me that Ron wouldn’t be able to participate, I stopped searching. So I raided my Dad’s bookshelves for theology books from seminary to study and sustain us and also devoured books by giants of the faith – one giant who provided tutelege was an Episcopalian preacher who exposed us to the litergy found in the Book of Common Prayer. I believe that God had been working in me to do more than just drive by the stucco church with red doors on 16th Street.
But the exterior of the Church is nothing compared to the interior — beautiful stained glass, arches (!), glorious music and the preaching of the gospel. However, the treasure of St Paul’s (besides Christ presiding) are the people in the pews.
Thank you for the warm fellowship you’ve given me and the encouragement you’ve given to this hungry soul.