Dear Friends,

I just learned of the passing of our good friend, Gene Bowman.  Gene and Evelyn were in church yesterday.  I thought he looked as good as he had in a long time.  He was in his typical cheerful mood, enjoying conversations with his friends in the narthex.  He died in his sleep about 10:30 last night.  We’re going to miss him.  Our love and prayers go out to Evelyn.  I’ve rarely seen two people so devoted to each other.

When I think of Gene I think of an old story.  A man was walking to church on a cold, stormy morning.  It was a miserable day to be out.  A passerby asked, “Why did you decide to go to church this Sunday?”  He answered, “I didn’t decide to go the churchthis Sunday.  I decided a long time ago that I would go to  church every Sunday.”

You may have heard of the recent Pew Research Center study.  It said that in the last seven years the number of people who identify themselves with no religion has jumped from 16% to 23%.  You read further in the study though and you see that when these 23% who identify with no religion were asked the follow-up question, “How important is religion in your life?” 44% or them said it was very or somewhat important.

Greg Nelson, the Communication Director of our Annual Conference, sent out the cartoon I have attached below. Some will always identify with the group that it is “socially advantageous” to belong to.  They will blow with the wind.  That’s always been the case.  That always will be the case.  Thank God for people like Gene Bowman.  He knew what he believed.  He knew where he belonged on Sunday morning.  We need more Gene Bowmans.

In Christ,