In A Nutshell | January 1, 2021

Chances are, you are becoming less and less likely to answer your cell phone when an unfamiliar number comes up on your screen and the audio voice inside proclaims, “unknown caller.”

That’s where I was a week ago when a Mount Vernon number appeared. One ring, two rings…O, what the heck, I’ll answer it, and I’m glad I did. On the other end of the line was our dear friend and former pastor, Keith Bohley, who served at Oak Chapel from 1987-1996.

It was great to hear his voice. He sounded as strong as ever, despite a health scare this past fall. He was calling about the sudden passing of Roger Burckhart. He related to me a story of when he was appointed at Oak Chapel and Roger, along with Roger Martin, arranged for some trailers to transport the Bohleys’ furniture and other belongings to their parsonage on Warner Hill — just one of many fond memories of his highly successful tenure here.

I then reminded him of one of my favorite memories. It was 1995, just before he was called to another church. My young family and I decided to sample Oak Chapel one Sunday that spring, and we were immediately hooked. First, we realized that we had a number of friends and acquaintances who attended the church. Then, we heard Rev Bohley preach a brilliant sermon, and we agreed, this was the place for us.

Later that year, Rev. Bohley invited me to breakfast at the old Friendly’s Restaurant at the corner of Beall and Winter near Wooster Community Hospital. As I have related several times, it was there that he asked me to lead a young adult Sunday School class.

“Me,” I thought. “No way,” but for some reason I said, “Sure.” Neither of us could possibly have known that more than 20 years later I would be asked to serve as pastor at Oak Chapel. As they say, “God works in mysterious ways!”

I reminded Rev. Bohely how grateful I was for his invitation to breakfast and all that followed. He planted a seed that fall day in 1995, and I guess you could say, I have grown into an “old Oak” in the process.

On this New Year’s Eve, when we listen to Guy Lombardo’s rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” (at least we used to listen to that on New Year’s Eve), I am reminded how precious our acquaintances are. Rev. Bohley was saddened to hear about Roger’s sudden passing, but no doubt comforted by the fact that because Roger was a faithful believer, he was now safe and joyful in the Kingdom of Heaven.

At last, a year of turmoil and unrest will pass at midnight tonight, and a new year will begin. We don’t know if things will be better, but we can certainly hope. Regardless of what is to come, however, we can take heart in the relationships we have with our fellow believers, and most importantly the relationship we have with the Lord God Almighty!

Until we meet again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John

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