This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day. I remember my great grandpa, Earl Hinkle (he’s the older guy with the glasses in the picture. I’m in the photo, too. I’ll let you guess which one). He fought in Europe during WW1. He was also a Methodist and a Baptist preacher (I guess he was also fighting on home soil for church unity)! I also remember by cousin, Michael, just a couple years younger than me, who died while serving in Iraq in 2005. We honor and celebrate the memory of those men and women who gave their lives for our country.
The memory of the people in our past should inform us about our own present and future. What should we be doing? We won’t all fight in wars or serve in the miliary. But what should we be about? What matters most?
I love the story of Pearl Guy. I think she’s someone to remember and celebrate, too. Thanks to two women at White Oak who have researched our church’s history, we have pieced together a small bit of Pearl’s story.
After WOCC built our first church building in the late 1800s, we just know snippets of history for several decades. We do know that two big things happened in the early 1900’s. WW1 and the 1918 Pandemic. Based on a very few records, we know that WOCC and Colerain Twp. were not exempt from the impact. Probably because of the War and Pandemic, we have little in the way of record or fact. One small anecdote suggests that we even lost our pastor to the war or the pandemic. Either way, the church pretty much closed.
But we do know that in 1919, a traveling pastor stopped by to check on the church building – its appearance was run down, with no signs of activity. The pastor found meeting in the basement (where White Oak’s current offices are now located at our Colerain Twp. building) a small, women's Bible study led by "the faithful Miss Pearl Guy.” We can quote that with confidence because that traveling Pastor decided to stay on, and his wife became church secretary and historian. We have her typed recollection of that event.
Pearl Guy was simply leading a small group of women. Unknowingly, she preserved a remnant that led to our next renewal. Pearl was simply doing the part she should. She said “yes” to Jesus when our community, country, and our world was in a season of chaos, fear, and grief. No matter what, Pearl was faithful. And God was faithful. One woman who led a group of faithful women…valuing community… honoring King Jesus in an empty church.
I am deeply moved by this story. Something about it just smacks of strength, courage, and the fortitude of a woman who loved Jesus and others. I think we should remember Pearl. I think about the woman who anointed Jesus’s head with expensive perfume while he reclined at a dinner party. Matthew tells us of Jesus’s words in his Gospel:
13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” -Matt. 26:13
More than anyone at the dinner party, this lady got it. Pearl got it. I want to get it like they did. I want to face what is happening in my world and community with all the ugly things that could easily bring me down with the faithfulness and obedience and God-honoring steps of trust that these women had. Jesus is first. His mission is first. The things he cares about will be the things I care most about.
White Oak: The “no matter what” response is in our church family DNA. It’s all over in our past. Let’s get about those things, now! Today.
I look forward to White Oak celebrating Pearl for many years to come. How many people will be in heaven, I wonder, because of her “yes” to God? Crazy to think about. I look forward to meeting her one day and thanking her. (After, of course, I catch up with my great grandpa and cousin).
White Oak Christian Church