I think about him quite often as I struggle to get to Bible class and worship a few minutes early. He never seemed to have that problem. He was always there at least thirty minutes early. This was “on-time” to Dee Hughes at Pine Grove Church of Christ. Today we would call him “old school.”
We never had to worry about communion preparation at the Delhi Church of Christ. Miss Jessie Alred took care of that. She lived three blocks from the church building and never failed to have all things ready. I can still see her in my minds-eye walking those three blocks regardless of the weather. She was another member of the “old school.”
The baptistery at Skyway Hills Church of Christ almost looked polished. Lee Rast took special pride in taking care of it. He had voluntarily and meticulously looked after it for years. He and his bride, Elsie, were always there too- every Sunday and Wednesday. You could count on them. Yep, “old school” they were.
Sometimes we diminish the legacy of previous generations- especially so- it seems in our churches. We look back and often only see the mistakes they made or the “traditions” they upheld which now seem dated. But if this is all we see as we look back, it is we who become diminished.
Faithfulness was the class primer in the old school. Sure, okay, maybe, occasionally, that faith might have been placed more on form than on the Father, but its power in them was undeniable. They worked hard, raised families, sacrificed, built churches, faithfully supported them, came early, stayed late, got excited about gospel meetings, regularly visited other congregations, and shared their faith.
I know, times have changed and many of the old school methods that were effective in spreading God’s kingdom then, no longer are. Yes, I realize they certainly were not without fault (who is?). Not everyone always made the grade every time in the old school. And it is true, that occasionally some, who graduated from the old school, had great difficulty seeing beyond that education.
But, overall, what a tremendous faith legacy they have left us. In some ways they remind me of another great cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 12.
Clay Hopkins definitely did. He was old school to the core. His understanding on some things was limited, but he loved the Oak Ridge Church of Christ and was always there, doing what he could. He was a great encouragement to me even though I was from the new school. But just like the others I mentioned, I will never forget him and his dedication to his family, his church and his Lord.
Could it just possibly be that the “old school” still offers some coursework needed today?