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It takes someone special to be a dad

 
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1:00 P.M. EDT June 16, 2011



The Rev. Hendrix A. Townsley sailed to India in 1936 and served there for 40 years as a United Methodist missionary. He fell in love with Eileen Hakeem, and they married in 1945. Photo courtesy of Colleen Brinkmann.
The Rev. Hendrix A. Townsley sailed to India in 1936 and served there
for 40 years as a United Methodist missionary. He fell in love with Eileen
Hakeem, and they married in 1945. Photo courtesy of Colleen Brinkmann.

How did your father set a Christian example or how do you help your children develop faith?

When that question was posted recently on Facebook, almost 100 people responded.

“I don't have any children yet,” wrote Chrissy Cunningham, Washington, D.C., “but my dad ‘Pops’ is the most kindhearted, open, giving, generous, caring, fun and loving person I've ever met. I thank God every day that I've had his influence in my life to show me how to treat people and how to treat myself.”

Malama Sinitalela Atu of First United Methodist Church, Hawthorne, Calif., considers herself blessed “with the best father ever.”

“Viliami H. Atu always made sure that as kids, we went to church, and now that we're older, he goes out of his way to take our kids to church. He's a well-respected man in our community for the good he does,” she said.

Many Facebook respondents listed virtues that described their dads: forgiveness, generosity, honesty, humility, kindness, patience, understanding and, as one person stated aptly, “letting us live our own lives but also quick to give us good counsel.”

“My dad never gives up on the people he loves and has taught me to push myself to do better,” commented Sarah Gerstenberger.



Gene Pavey, father of Elaine Pavey Russell, “absolutely exemplifies what God wants our earthly father to be,” Russell said. Photo courtesy of Elaine Pavey Russell.
Gene Pavey, father of Elaine Pavey Russell, “absolutely exemplifies what God wants our earthly father to be,”
Russell said. Photo courtesy of Elaine Pavey Russell.

Elaine Pavey Russell, a member of Coldspring United Methodist Church in Texas, called her dad “an awesome example of God's hands and feet to others.” At 73, he “still attends church camp, is available on youth nights, and is 110 percent involved with my children and all of my youth. He has no name other than ‘PaPa’ to everyone.”

Sarah Jamison-Beal said of her father, now 86, “Dad was always at church. He sits quietly, but he is there. I still sit with him, and I’m 50-plus.” They attend Gouldbusk United Methodist Church in Texas.

‘He was love incarnate to us’

Many who posted comments were “preachers' kids,” whose clergy parents instilled in them a love of God.

“My dad was a United Methodist pastor,” recalled Sharon McCart, now of San Diego. “What I remember most, though, is how forgiving and loving he was with his own five children, especially when we were all teenagers. He was love incarnate to us.”

The late Rev. Hendrix Atkinson Townsley, said his daughter Colleen Brinkmann of Dallas, “modeled for us love for all people, taking the path less taken, [showing] respect for all religions, a zeal for pure fun and adventure.” He encouraged his children to respect, learn from and appreciate other cultures.

Others, like Gary Cobb’s parents, who were teachers, shared other passions. “They inspired learning in me,” he said.

The little things counted a lot, remarked Diane E. Wilkinson of Arizona.

Along with being an active United Methodist, she noted, her father found time in his busy work schedule to attend school concerts and ballgames.

“He was also one of the world’s best math tutors,” Wilkinson said. “When I was in high school, he was always willing to ditch his suit coat and tie when he came home from work and join me in a few games of H.O.R.S.E. or Around the World. He turns 96 next week and still is an inspiration to me.”

Nurturing children’s spiritual life also was high on the list of beloved dad traits. Many shared how their fathers joined the family in worship every Sunday, led daily devotions, tithed faithfully and volunteered for church activities.

Don Archambeau’s father joined the Methodist Church before he married in 1941 and was a member of Christ United Methodist Church, Lansing, Mich., when he died in 2000. “For what it is worth,” Archambeau observed wryly, “I think it stuck. I am currently Detroit West District lay leader.”

An awesome example

“We went to the Arroyo Grande (Calif.) United Methodist Church,” remembered Bill Ballagh, Point Arena, Calif. “Mom and Dad both led by example. Never insisted we go to church, but, rather, helped us discover our faith.”

Kattie Jo Preiebe, Akron, Colo., is married to a United Methodist minister. After she and her husband went on a mission trip to Mississippi for Katrina relief, they told her dad, Tim Barnhart, all about it. Barnhart, a layman, started recruiting people from his congregation to help.

“My dad is an awesome example of a passionate man of God,” she wrote. “He sold his business about nine years ago and started a mission organization. … He travels all over the United States, helping churches and nonprofit organizations with maintenance they may not be able to afford.

“And he works with United Methodist Volunteers in Mission.”

Dorie Jackson, a United Methodist from Gainesville, Fla., said her dad always helps others. “He is a living example of ‘love thy neighbor,’ and he truly believes the whole world is his neighbor.”

Lindy Beatie remembers her father saying, “If you have food on the table and a roof over your head, share the rest.”

Aurora Trevino, who was raised in a “traditional Hispanic Catholic family,” said her father’s mission ended much too early — at age 58. “My father worked very hard as a laborer and seldom complained,” she said. “He was extremely funny with a great sense of humor, and, through the years, I realized my father had done an Emmaus walk, De Colores, [that] was part of the faith he held dearly.”

‘His life showed his faith’

Sharing the same DNA isn’t as important as showing your children you care, Jamie Lemke Barrand’s adoptive father, Bill Lemke, proved.

“My father married my mother when my twin sister and I were 8,” the member of Gobin United Methodist Church, Greencastle, Ind., wrote. “He adopted us shortly thereafter. My father instilled in us that family is … about being there for each other through the good and the bad, lifting each other up in prayer and wanting good things for each other. We didn’t share a lick of DNA, but no one could have been a better father to us than my dad.”



Sharing the same DNA isn’t as important as showing your children you care, Jamie Lemke Barrand’s adoptive father,Bill Lemke,proved. 1998 photo courtesy of Jamie Lemke Barrand.
Sharing the same DNA isn’t as
important as showing your children
you care, Jamie Lemke Barrand’s
adoptive father, Bill Lemke,
proved. 1998 photo courtesy
of Jamie Lemke Barrand.

Jason Walker, whose dad wasn’t an active part of his life, found male mentors in Sunday school teachers, youth volunteers, Scout leaders and pastors at First United Methodist Church, Grand Saline, Texas.

“Fortunately, I had a number of godly men in my home church who were there when [my father] wasn’t,” he said. “Most of them are now part of the Church Triumphant, but their influence remains. I was just very blessed to have all of them in my life.”

Whether one’s father is the life of the party or a quiet, steady presence, setting a Christlike example seems to be the key ingredient to being a successful dad.

“My dad lived his faith every day,” said Rita Schoenfeld, Belle Glade, Fla. “He did not have to say much; his life showed his faith.”

Maria Lou Tolentino Puno credits her father with teaching her how to love and praise God. “He is the reason I joined the world of Christianity,” she said. “I'm a member of The United Methodist Church in the Philippines. It's good to be a follower of Christ.”

Ela Cruz remembers the legacy her father left.

“My daddy showed, not only to us, but [also] to the community that Jesus can change people’s lives. … He became a disciple to his last breath, and he left us disciples, too,” she said.

*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., 615-742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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  • Al 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I was blessed by loving parents, both Dad and Mom. However, I am saddened by the perennial variations of the " it takes someone special to be a Dad" statements because we never hear on Mother's Day, ie ... "it takes someone special to be a mom" . It is a negative stereotype of Dads in our culture that can be very hard to overcome. I say this from the prespective of a single parent that never stopped struggling for justice for my son in family court. I did prevail, but the cost in both money and emotional turmoil was very great because the assumption was I had to prove I was a "special" but it was a givien for the mother. Eventually, after being awarded custody , I actually initiated "joint" custody when my son was an older teen, even that attempt at forgiveness and Grace was questioned. Shalom, Pastor Al Johnson

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