Rebecca West: Words & Music

Bob the Elder

by Bob West

In an earlier chapter of my life story I mentioned moving to our new house in Robinswood on the west side of Orlando in 1959. Members of the Pine Hills Church of Christ had just finished their new building a few blocks away. Sylvia and I became members there and worked with that church for over 20 years.

At first we were just a group of Christians worshiping together and working together, much like Christians might have done in the first century. Except, unlike the early church, we had a church building to maintain and pay for. The business decisions for the church were made by the men in the men's monthly business meetings. Women were not invited.

Our goal was to get fully organized by appointing Elders and Deacons as soon as we had men qualified. But first we hired a full-time preacher, Connie W. Adams, to fill the pulpit.

Connie encouraged me to take a more active part in the teaching program. He also got me involved with the Pine Hills Exhorter, a teaching paper which he edited and reproduced on a mimeograph machine. That's when I began writing articles.

Connie also helped me fulfill my dream to be a "musician," to sing and play a musical instrument with a group. Connie and a couple of others in the church had been professional musicians. They got together to pick and sing from time to time, and they let me play the electric bass. Sometimes I would get to sing a song or two. Our religious doctrine did not permit us to sing with musical instruments in worship services, but we could sing secular songs with instrumental music elsewhere. We called ourselves "The Sons of the Palmettos." It was a lot of fun while it lasted.

Theophilus cartoon: Lynn, Connie, and Bob picking and singing
Picking, grinning, singing and making melody in our hearts...
Lynn Robinson (guitar), Connie W. Adams (mandolin), and Bob West (electric bass)

Sons of the Palmettos with red shirts
Bob West, Frank Belue, Lynn Robinson, and Bernard DeNoe
dressed in the matching shirts that Connie Adam's first wife Bobbie made for us
(Connie was not present for the photo)

When Connie moved to a church in Akron, Ohio, Jere E. Frost became our preacher. I helped Jere upgrade the Pine Hills Exhorter from mimeograph to an offset teaching paper and became co-editor. After my Theophilus comic strip became a regular feature, we both came up with ideas that we discussed and fine-tuned before I did the final drawings.

Connie W. Adams Jere E. Frost
Two men who were very important in the preparation of my ministry: Connie W. Adams (left) and Jere E. Frost. They were used by God to teach me the Scriptures and to encourage me to use my talents to become a teacher myself.

In addition to the cartoons and other art work, I prepared the Exhorter for the printer, and sometimes wrote an article. Sylvia and I took our turn cleaning the church building. And we both taught Bible classes. I remember leading a few song services. I also made visual aids to use with my own preaching and teaching and sometimes for others to use.

When we appointed officers, I became a Deacon and the teaching program became my responsibility. I made sure we had teachers and substitute teachers for all classes (children through adults), selected and ordered class literature and visual aids. I also conducted teachers' meetings and training sessions.

Years later I was nominated to be an Elder, but someone didn't feel I was old enough, even though I was over 35 and met the age requirement for the President of the United States. (A little humor there.) Anyway, I decided to withdraw my name.

A few years later I was nominated again, and this time there were no objections. I became an Elder. There were four of us on the board at that time. Years later (in 1998) my cartoon counterpart, Sketch Drawings, had the same experiences I did in the following episode of Theophilus.

Theophilus comic strip
THEOPHILUS comic strip 1998 episode: "Lord, When Did We See You in Need?"
Visit the Theophilus website by clicking here.

The cartoon character I named "Brother Foremost" was based on a real live Elder who actually said we shouldn't use church funds to provide "Sister Solitaire" with heating oil. Brother Foremost was also a man nearing retirement age who aspired to be a "full-time" paid Elder.

I remember that things went well while there were four of us. Then two of the Elders moved away and things changed. One day I received a phone call from the other remaining Elder, Brother Foremost. He said that it was time for us to get a new preacher. "Why?" I asked. His response was that Jere had been there longer than three years (which I assume was a reference to the length of time a preacher in the Bible stayed somewhere), and "it was time for a change!"

I didn't agree with him. When he pressed the issue, I told him that there were other churches in town that he could attend if he was unhappy at Pine Hills. He said, "I can't do that. I'm a Charter Member here!"

A few days later, my doorbell rang. It was Brother Foremost's brother-in-law. He came inside, got in my face, and tried to intimidate me into agreeing to change preachers.

I decided that the best thing to do under the circumstances was to dissolve the Eldership by resigning. (According to our doctrine there must be a plurality of Elders. You can't have just one.) At first Brother Foremost objected, claiming he was still an Elder because he hadn't resigned.

During a few meetings of the male members of the church to discuss the matter and try to resolve it to everyone's satisfaction, we learned that the person Brother Foremost had in mind to replace Jere as our preacher was his own son.

Brother Foremost and his brother-in-law and their families soon moved their memberships to another church in Orlando. The male members of the Pine Hills church continued to meet monthly and make decisions. Jere E. Frost continued to be the preacher there for several more years. And I kept busy with what turned out to be my own ministry.

To be continued

< Previous | Next >