By Jim Teeters, East Hill Friends
We were attending Medford Friends Church in the 1970s—I was a kind of hippie, long-haired social worker type and more prone to independence and liberalism than the typical evangelical Quaker. It was a time when an associate pastor was needed. Pastor Clynton Crisman needed help. I was interested in the quest for someone to fill the role and took part in the deliberations. I was certainly not the type to fill the role, and it never occurred to me to even consider the possibility. I was supporting our family of six as a trainer for Children’s Services—lots on my plate.
My job as trainer involved traveling, planning conferences, and administrative meetings. Partying, drinking, and dancing were just part of the job back then. Not the kind of gifts needed by our church body. My job took me to the Southern Oregon coast—my favorite was the beach at Bandon. I would walk out on the beach, visit caves, and talk to God as I enjoyed the wind and waves.
One day, I walked through a tunnel in the rocks and faced the great Pacific ocean and heard a voice (audible or in my head? not sure),
“You will be the associate pastor.”
“What? You’ve got to be kidding. Me? No way; is that you, God?”
“Well, this is crazy. Ok, but only if it is confirmed by someone bringing it up—not one word from me!”
Then I screamed, “Nooooooooo…,” out into the wind and waves. But soon I realized that there was no way anyone would ever, in their wildest imagination, see me as a pastor. I laughed and felt relaxed on the way back to my motel room and my bottle of wine.
At our next meeting, Pastor Clynton Crisman looked directly at me and said, “Jim, how about you being my associate pastor?”