Thursday, August 11, 2011

Preacher to Pastor

Young adults were mingling about the large room in an old mansion on State Street in Sharon, PA. We had just had a Bible study. I was probably one of the youngest at Break Away. My mother had read about it in the paper. I just graduated that spring, working afternoons as a nurse's aid at Clepper's, a nursing home farther up State Street. I had a Monday evening off.
A rather short balding man broke into conversation with me. Excitement filled me as he mentioned he was from Emporium and I had just heard of that. I wanted to go to a district meeting there in the fall as I was planning on running for a state office in an organization I belonged the next summer. Politicking even at a Bible study, is there no shame? He was impressed that I had heard of the small north central Pennsylvania town, but that I had no idea it was 3 hours away from Sharon. His mother was also involved in this organization.
Ray Lyon, new in his ministry, just finished his first year at Wheatland UM church. Jim Tweardy, a Presbyterian minister from Covenant Church in Sharon, headed up this young adult ministry in one of the homes owned by the church, as well as an outreach at Penn State Shenango. Being a good Christian girl, I was looking for a good Christian man.
When I got home that night, I ran upstairs to my parents' bedroom, plunked down on the edge of their bed and told them how I met a young single preacher! But Ray is 8 years older than I and at 18, just too big a gap. I hadn't even started nursing school, yet.
By the end of summer, a taller man with thick black hair and an aloof air about him caught my attention in the same mansion. David Lyon, visiting his bachelor brother, who took no time to cook or eat(often, Ray passed out on his visitations), or buy groceries, was forced to come to this Labor Day picnic or starve, as he had just left college. I caught David's attention with my tenacity to get up on water skis and the incompetency of the young men trying to teach me. Later that week, he invited me boating with his friends coming from Pittsburgh and Ray, on Ray's boat. The weather turned cold in that week and I wore a sweater, instead of a bathing suit. I never have learned how to get up on skis, quit 20 years ago.
The Lyon brothers, used to mountain reservoirs, not shallow lakes like Shenango hadn't realized there was a sand bar in the middle of the upper basin, north of the causeway. Ray drove the boat onto that sandbar. One side you couldn't reach the bottom with the boat hook, the other, the water hardly covered the tip. Ray got out to push the boat. The friend, Donald, an art major, photographed the Rev. Ray walking on water, for it surely looked like that way out in the middle of the lake. Ray quipped, "Make sure my congregation sees that picture!"
So was the beginning of a fun and longest relationship with a preacher. David has often called him,"The right, righteous Rev. Ray." He's also know as the "late Rev. Ray." or "Ray who?" Now in later years, the congregations have gotten to call their ministers, "Pastor" That took Ray some getting used to. "I don't know about this Pastor Ray..." he muttered.
Ray gave the sermon at our wedding. He has married several of his nieces and nephews. He is a vivacious top, seems to be always spinning, but not out of control. He has a wonderful wife, Kathy, who also graduated 2 years ahead of me from WMHS, the helpmate he needs.(Wonderful Middlesex girls). Ray is great at visiting, which seems to be a dying occupation among the new breed of preachers, I heard.
Ray is being upstaged by his great nephew, Jacob, in the praying department. When Jacob turned six, his prayers just seemed to take off. A little boy tormenting his cousins one minute, a little man of God the next when asked to pray.
Ray showed his sister, David and I where he heard his call to ministry on 6th Street, just a few blocks from his Emporium home. A ninth grader, he ignored it for a while. But as a man of God will tell you, you can't run from God forever. Ray is guided by the Holy Spirit and he gives his all to his ministry.
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