Today is special for me as it marks the end of 25 years at SouthSide. Next Sunday I will start my 26th year. I’m not stupid. I know the end will come in the next 3-4-5 years. But, I hope to be able to continue to work and encourage this church for years to come.
Over the years many people have come and gone. A couple that stands out is Duke & Beth Weber, whom I have talked about from time to time. They were baptized as a result of a study group in Pittsburgh. Four couples came together and just started studying the Bible. It lead them to the Christian Church. One of the couples moved to Michigan and Duke & Beth decided to follow. They ended up in Grand Rapids where they began to attend the Christian Church. Something didn’t feel right… so they went to another… then another. Finally they came to SouthSide. After awhile they wanted to talk with me… they liked it here… they enjoyed worshiping with us.
I remember we met at Applebees on Alpine. We talked about their baptism. We talked about instrumental music. I told them if they decided to worship with us the instrument could not be an issue. Their response was they would not be a problem. They came and they worked with us for 3-4 years. Everybody loved Duke & Beth. A dynamic couple with a personality you loved. They worked with our young people who adored them, especially our daughter, Natalie.
I still get a sad feeling when I remember the day Duke told me they were moving back to Pittsburgh. Beth’s father, who today is in his 90s, was having health issues and she had to go back and run his dry cleaning business. My first thought was they would probably go back to the Christian Church and their friends. However, when they moved back they sought out the Church of Christ and began to worship there. Beth became involved in a mission work of the church in India that was started by the congregation they worked with. They came back for a visit and Duke spoke about the work and several of us supported the orphanage work in India.
I think it was when they came back for Natalie’s wedding, Duke took me aside and told me, You guys are doing it right… and he repeated it… you guys are doing it right. I am happy that their spiritual search brought them to us and especially his words of encouragement!
I would recommend to you a couple of books by John Smith:
A Restoration Church and Its Worship
A Restoration Church and Its Music