See then that you follow the footsteps of good men and keep to the course of the righteous. Proverbs 2:20
John H. Smith, a long-time member of First Presbyterian and the President of the Fellowship Class, was an ordinary saint. He passed away a year or so ago after a long and happy life. Whenever I asked about his health in his final months of life, he would invariably say: “I am still vertical!”
John was a lifelong farmer, a bachelor who lived with his own sainted mother and much-loved sister, Patricia. He had recruited me to try out as the teacher for the Fellowship Class but said I was only “on probation.” Our class grew in size from about a dozen to over 100 at one point, but now (thankfully!) is back to a reasonable 25-30 members. John bought Bibles for the entire class and arranged a yearly supper party to keep the “fellowship” idea alive and well. He even made sure I had a substitute teacher on those rare occasions I had to miss class.
No doubt, John would laugh if he knew I called him a “Saint,” but I think his dedication to his class and to our Church—as well as to my own personal welfare—qualifies him for the honor. He is no doubt still “vertical” with his own heavenly white robe and halo, but he earned his “wings” in the day-to-day life here on earth and with his devotion to the Fellowship Class. (Incidentally, he never did take me off probation—and that was some 45 years ago!)
About the Contributor
Tom McDaniel is professor emeritus and former Dean, Provost, and Senior Vice President at Converse College; he is an inactive Elder and still teacher for the Fellowship Class at First Presbyterian.