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A long delayed letter

David Epps's picture

A few weeks ago, I was going through my desk and found a church directory from Mountain View United Methodist Church. The directory was from 2007 and I was going to toss it but, before I did, I thumbed through it and noticed a name.

“I wonder if she is still alive?” I thought. On impulse, I called the church office in Kingsport, Tenn., and, after explaining who I was, asked if the person I mentioned was still alive.

“She is,” the secretary shared, “but she is mostly bedridden now.”

I confirmed the address of Jean Bridwell and, after hanging up, I wrote a long-overdue thank you letter:


Dear Mrs. Bridwell,

I don’t know whether you remember me or not, but, in the mid-late 1960’s, you were my Sunday School teacher at Mountain View United Methodist Church. I am fairly certain that, along with Mike and David, Steve, (last names omitted for this column) and a few other high schoolers, we were quite a handful. Well, Steve was always well-behaved, the rest of us not so much.

In fact, I remember, much to my embarrassment, the day that we were so unruly that you gathered up your things and went home in the middle of the lesson. We were upset that we had distressed you and the girls in the class threatened mayhem if we didn’t make it right.

So, those of us who were the problem walked to your house and meekly apologized. As always, you were so very gracious. For the most part, I think we behaved after that. You were always loved and respected, even though we may not have properly shown it.

I just wanted to write and say “thank you” for all your time that you spent trying to impart God’s Word to some rowdy students. I, for one, never forgot your care and your commitment.

I don’t know if you knew that, for several of us boys, our parents were unchurched. Somehow, we individually managed to find our way into Mountain View, mostly through the Methodist Youth Fellowship, and, even though our folks didn’t come to church, we felt accepted.

Mountain View was “our church” and you are one of those people who made us feel like we mattered.

If you ever wondered whether you made any difference in a kid’s life, I wanted you to know that you most certainly did.

With deepest affection and appreciation,

David Epps, Bishop, Diocese of the Mid-South

There are those people, like Jean Bridwell, who make a significant difference to us along life’s way. I suspect that most of them go unrecognized and under-appreciated. I certainly know that is the case in my life.

I hope, before it is too late, I can let them all know that I am grateful for their influence in my life. Even if the thanks is long delayed.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org). He may be contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.]

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