Chapter 4-1 Religion and Philosophy
As a very young boy, I don’t recall going to church. I don’t believe that either Mom or Dad attended church and Sunday for me was like any other day.
When I was eleven years old, the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons), knocked on our door and Mom invited them in. For some months they visited and taught us the gospel. The missionaries were Elders Packer and Stubbs. My Dad wasn’t interested. I don’t recall if he stayed in the room for the discussions or not. My little sister didn’t really listen and Mom decided that she and I would be baptized. To be really honest, I don’t remember the discussions or whether or not I was interviewed or even asked if I wanted to be baptized. In any event, Mom and I were baptized at the Marion YMCA. I remember that the water was deep and the missionary just had to push me down to immerse me. The date was March 23, 1952 and I was eleven. I was baptized by Elder Glenn R. Stubbs.
We then started attending the Marion Branch which was located on Main Street between two sets of railroad tracks, close to my Uncle Paul Thomas’ butcher shop. We shared the rented building with the Seventh-Day Adventist church. After a few months, we moved to a hall above the odd-fellows lodge on Main Street, just about a half-block north of the intersection of Center and Main, close to the court-house. I suppose I was in primary, but I don’t really remember much about it because we soon moved to Richwood.
After moving to Richwood, my Mother stopped going to Church. I always thought it was because of the distance but Mom said it was because they gave her a calling, and she was too shy to do it; so she went inactive. I would occasionally attend the local churches, either the Church of Christ or the First Baptist. This was sporadic and was often because girls I was dating would invite me. I really wasn’t interested in religion, but I did believe in Jesus and the Bible, even though I seldom read it. I knew basic Christian beliefs, but not in any depth. By this time, what little information I had possessed about the LDS Church was totally forgotten. The only thing I knew was that I had been baptized when eleven.
In 1959, during Marine Corps boot camp, I was asked my religion for my military records and dog tags. I told the clerk I was Mormon and he said “Oh, LDS.” I replied, “I guess so.” On Sunday, we were then given a choice of where to attend church. There were Catholic and Protestant Services, and since I was LDS, I was told that we met separately and I could go on my own instead of marching with a group. I thought this was a great idea, and attended LDS services. Everything was totally mysterious. The other LDS members figured that since I had been in the church since a child, I knew everything and of course I knew nothing. Everything was total confusion and I didn’t really get anything from the service. I believe there were five of us, four were stationed at Parris Island, and I was the sole recruit.
Once I left boot camp, I stopped going to church again and didn’t attend church services until I was stationed at Quantico. While there, I decided I wanted to attend church and occasionally attended services in Washington, D.C. These were these days before the Priesthood was given to all worthy males. We had a black doorman. I don’t know what ward it was. I just remember that they had interpreters because those attending were from various countries. The ward also had a girl who did American Sign Language and there were several deaf members.
I met a girl who attended the Assembly of God church and I attended services with her until we broke up.
I then met Mary Ann who attended the Silver Spring Church of God. We attended almost every Sunday and became quite active there. We formed a trio of Mary Ann, Wayne Peters, and me. We sang Southern Gospel and I played guitar. I was planning to go to college to become a Church of God minister following my discharge until an incident happened that told me that I was listening to the wrong spirit. This was a Pentecostal church with everyone praying together and talking in tongues, although no one had the slightest idea what the gibberish meant. The people were sincere and friendly and the pastor was very likeable. However, at one meeting when everyone was in a frenzy, the pastor jumped over several chairs, knocking a couple over and exclaimed, “Damn, I feel good!” All of a sudden, my enthusiasm went very cold and the Holy Ghost whispered to me that this wasn’t right. In any event, we continued attending and were married there, on July 1, 1962 in the Silver Spring Church of God.
After we moved into base housing at Quantico, we stopped attending church. One day I was working in my office, when a full-bird Colonel walked in. The office was called to attention, and he walked over, sat on the corner of my desk, held out his hand and announced. “Hi, I’m Jack Jones. My wife and I would like you and your wife to come to our house for dinner on Sunday. Can I pick you up around 10:00 a.m? We’ll attend church before dinner.” My jaw dropped in astonishment, and I managed to squeek out, “Yes, Sir.” He then turned and walked away. Someone asked “Who was that?” I replied that I had no idea. I told Mary and we waited for Sunday with much apprehension.
Sunday morning came around, and this beat-up old station wagon pulled up with about eight kids in it and the Colonel and his wife. He was in a suit instead of his Marine uniform, and Mary and I found that they were just ordinary people from Utah. Mary and I then attended our first Sacrament Meeting as husband and wife. We were quickly assigned to a fellowshipping couple, Mike and Annette Wood. Mike was in the Air Force stationed at a little radar site about 10 miles from Quantico. They lived in an apartment in Midway, Virginia and had a young son, Michael Jr. Since we didn’t have a car, Mike and Annette took us under their wings and took us shopping at the Commissary and picked us up for church. The five of us would crowd into Mike’s Volkswagon Beetle. They were very good friends and really helped us understand the Church.
We found out later how Brother Jones contacted us. Our Branch President was brother Cox. He was also a Navy Dentist and went through every dental record, looking for LDS members. As part of a reactivation program, he then assigned all of the inactive members to the Elder’s Quorum. Brother Jones got our name, and what a blessing that has turned out to be. We will always be grateful to President Cox for caring enough to do the work to search us out.
The second week of attendance, I was ordained a Deacon, and given a calling of Scoutmaster. I was then assigned my first talk which was to be about the Scouting Program and the Aaronic Priesthood. I don’t remember the talk, but it must have been OK, because no one went inactive! Mike was my Assistant Scoutmaster. He was an Eagle Scout and really pushed me. I think I was called Scoutmaster instead of him to challenge me and to help me grow. I have no doubt that the President was inspired, because this calling really launched my church activity and also a life-long love and heavy involvement in Scouting. We had a good-sized troop of both LDS and non-LDS boys and being a Marine, I approached boy-scouting with a very gung-ho bearing. Fortunately, the boys really liked this and our troop excelled at all of the camporees we attended.
I was ordained into the Aaronic Priesthood quickly passing through Deacon, Teacher and Priest. Mary began the missionary discussions and was baptized and confirmed by Mike on September 11, 1962. I was only a Teacher and couldn’t baptize her. Early in the day, Mike and I went to a local creek and dug a baptismal font in the bed of the creek. It was a nice warm day and the baptismal service was uneventful. However, we had two deaf teenage investigators who also wanted to be baptized that day, so after Mutual that evening, we returned to the creek and the full-time missionaries baptized and confirmed them.
The day following my discharge in April, 1963, we attended District Conference in Charlottesville, Va., where I was ordained an Elder by Russell B. Maddock, The following is my Priesthood Line of Authority.
After discharge, we moved into Marion and attended the Marion Branch, the one in which I was baptized. I worked with the young men while there. We were not there long because I didn’t like the work I was doing as an insurance agent and after three months, I decided to go back into the military, choosing the Air Force.
We were stationed at Hill AFB, Utah, where I became the 4th Ward Financial Clerk in the Mount Ogden Stake. I really liked the challenge. In those days, everything was done by typewriter or hand-written. Nothing was computerized. When I took over, the books had been out of balance by ten cents for many years. I was determined to find the error and spent months, and eventually found that the error had occurred on a donation slip about five years in the past. I fixed the problem and felt great satisfaction from balancing the Lord’s books.
We had some interesting people in the Ward. One in particular stands out and that was Jacob Lambert. His father had been a physician and when Jacob was a young boy, they moved onto the Shoshone Indian reservation. Jacob was wearing a red flannel shirt and was given the Indian name of Inga Quat Shu (I’m not sure of the spelling), which means “Red Shirt.” Jacob grew up very interested in Indian Lore and prepared exhibits for the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., and presented a collection of Indian artifacts to the King of Sweden. Jacob’s Father had come from Sweden as one of the early Church converts. Jacob had a hobby of making arrow head jewelry by chipping obsidian or even pieces of glass bottles. He taught me how and I still have the ability to make arrow heads.
We then moved to Sunset and back to Ogden into the 24th Ward, Mount Ogden Stake. I don’t remember if I had a calling in Sunset, but in Ogden, I became Sunday School President. In those days, meetings were split and talks were assigned and the Sacrament was administered in Sunday School. This was a very important and busy calling, involving faculty meetings, making sure the sacrament was prepared and assignments made and that two and a half minute talks were assigned and prepared. We shared the building with the 4th Ward. The building dated back to the 1800’s and was very old-fashioned. The restrooms were in the basement. The chapel had a sloping floor like a movie theater but not that steep. The pews were painted white and had either red or black cushions which matched the carpet. The pulpit area was also a stage and must have been used for community and church plays and concerts at one time. There were dressing rooms which became classrooms in the stage wings. You entered the chapel at the back through a set of large double doors.
I wanted to take pictures some years later on a trip to Ogden, but the chapel had been torn down and a new building built on the site.
For a short time, we lived in base housing and attended the Layton 7th Ward. We didn’t have callings there. It was an old pioneer ward and everyone was related. Outsiders didn’t receive callings. The people were not very friendly. While stationed at Hill AFB, I received orders for Scotland and was assigned to RAF Kirknewton. This was considered a remote assignment and was a 1-year unaccompanied tour.
In Scotland, I was called to teach the teen-agers in Sunday School. I did this for a sort period, but as I got more involved with the Gatekeepers (my folk trio) and started doing shows around Scotland, I began to miss church and eventually became inactive. After six months in Scotland, a decison was made to close the base and I was transferred to RAF Chicksands near Bedford, England, and my tour was extended to three years.
Mary joined me in England and I started attending church and we became super-active. I was called as the Sunday School President, and then we received a mission calling for the Central British Mission. At the time George I Cannon was Mission President with counselors – Bro Derek A Cuthbert (who later became a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy) from England and Bro Jones from Wales. I was called as a member of the Mission Board with the responsiblity for Temple Work and Family History. Part of the assignment was to publish a monthly Family History newsletter. Mary and I named it Kith and Kin. Unfortunately, on the very first issue, I mispelled genealogy. What an auspicious start! We attended the London Temple monthly, and were called as veil workers. While there, we attended a youth conference at Keel University and spent a month travelling and camping throughout England and Scotland. We also spent almost every weekend travelling to Wales doing our own family research. Much of this time was spent in the Welsh National Library in Aberystwyth. It was there that we discovered what parishes my ancestors had lived in and found the records of their births and marriages. They were from Gwenddwr in Breconshire and Llandeilo-Graban in Radnorshire. After three years, we received orders to go so Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo, Texas.
We became members of the San Angelo Ward and I was called as Scoutmaster. It was an Anglo/Hispanic Ward. Either the opening prayer or benediction would be in Spanish and the other in English. The same thing was done for Sacrament Blessings and talks. My Home Teaching Companion was brother Alberado and our district was in the Spanish Barrio. We became good friends and if we were asked to bless the Sacrament, he would do the prayer in English and I would do the one in Spanish! My scout troop was a challenge. The Spanish culture did not favor boys cooking. This was Mother’s job. At campouts, the Hispanic mothers would show up and want to cook for their boys. I had a real tough time getting them to cook and earn their ranks and cooking merit badge! After a year at San Angelo, it was time to reenlist. My total service including the time in the Marines was nine years and I decided to leave the military. We headed back to Ohio.
We attened the Marion Branch in Marion, Ohio. This was the branch where my Mother and I had been baptized. The local Carpenter’s Union had an opening for a veteran and I became an apprentice carpenter and went to work. In Marion, I became a Sunday School Teacher. My home teaching route was in Marion. I’m not sure who my companion was, but I think it was brother Ireland. I do recall visiting the Pauley and Mahaffey families each month. Mary and I were incidental in helping a young lady join the church. She was attending a Country Baptist Church and her parents said she could join the church only if she publically announced it at the Baptist Church. She asked us to go with her for moral support. We did so and she became an active member of the church, eventually attending BYU. We picked her up for all church meetings, Sunday and for Mutual.
My pay as a carpenter was 6:00 per hour. Unfortunately, the work was by contract and somedays I didn’t work. I also had to travel to Lima, Ohio weekly for carpentry classes tought by the High School Shop teacher in the Lima High School. The economy his a slump and a cutback was done in Federal construction contracts, and I was laid off. I worked for a couple of months building pole barns for Harris and Jolliff Lumber Company in Byhalia, Ohio. My parents were pretty much supporting us. We didn’t have medical coverage and with an infant son, times were tough and Mary was pregnant. We rented a drafty old farmhouse in Byhalia at $25.00 per month. Finally, we realized that I needed to go back into the military and I reenlisted in the Air Force and received orders for Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.
But before heading to Mountain Home, I had to retrain into a new field in the Air Force. I was sent to Keesler AFB, Mississippi to train for the personnel field. Mary went to Tennessee, where she gave birth to our second child Rebecca. Since I was a SSgt, I really didn’t fit in with the new recuits, so I was assigned to the NCO quarters rather than a training barracks and was given the position of the Training Instructor (like a Marine Drill Instructor) for my school class. This was called a flight and I was the Flight Training Instructor. Our classes were from 6:00 p.m. until midnight. I picked up my flight at their barracks and marched them to and from class, took roll call and administered discipline. I inspected uniforms and made sure that they were in compliance.
I didn’t have a Church calling there because I would only be there a few weeks. The area had been hit with Hurricane Camille and I spent my spare time working as a carpenter, cleaning up the mess by fixing roofs and other work. There was such a shortage of contractors that businesses were paying triple wages. So in the daytime I worked, at night I was on the base with my class. I would sleep from 1:00 to about 6:00 a.m. and then work until 4:00 p.m.
When we moved to Idaho, we rented a house in town until we were assigned base housing. We attended the local ward for the few weeks and then became members of the Mountain Home AFB Branch. In the military, officers and enlisted pretty much lead separate lives when off-duty. Fraternization is not only discouraged, but in some cases against regulations. For military men, our rank was left at the door and we became simply brethern. Military rank was never an issue in the Lord’s work. Our Branch President was a Sergeant and his counselors were officers. Unfortunately, this did not extend to the wives of the officers. They tried to wear their husbands rank. One sister whose husband was a Lieutenant, constantly referred to her father as “My Father the Colonel.” This went so far as to create dissension to the point that some of the wives thought that it was improper to have both officers families and enlisted families at branch potlucks and activities. We brethern had to really come down on the officers’ wives over this and call them to repentence.
The Vietnam war was in progress and I knew that my tour in Southeast Asia would be coming up. I received orders to Danang AB, South Vietnam. Our furniture was picked up and just as we were living, a courier from base personnel came hurriedly up and told me my assignment was cancelled because my unit was leaving Danang. We went back to personnel and called Hq Air Force in Randolph, Texas and explained my household goods were already on the way to Ohio where Mary and the Kids (we now had three) were heading. They reasigned me to Tahkli AB, Thailand with a departure in 30 days. We headed onto Ohio. I flew out of Wright-Patterson to California and then on to Thailand .
In Thailand there were just a handful of us in the Church. We met informally, but gradually the group became reassigned and just drifted apart. I was the only enlisted member. The other three were pilots. I stopped attending for the remainder of my tour.
From Thailand, I was assigned to Grissom AFB, Indiana. We lived in base housing and attended the Peru, Indiana Ward. We had visiting and home teaching routes. I was the Cubmaster for the Ward Cub Pack. Someone had designed a special pinewood derby track and most of the district used it. It had actual timing lights and photo finish.
From Grissom AFB, I received a special assignment to the Air Force ROTC detachment at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. I was a Ward Finance Clerk and helped build the new chapel. I laid the floor tile in the primary/cultural hall. I was also the Scoutmaster. Mary was the Stake Blazer Leader, and I was the Priesthood member assigned to stay overnight. I was also the Scoutmaster for a Catholic Military School in Maumee, Ohio. I accepted the position because no one else in the district would do it. What a challenge. Most of the boys were sent there from Mexico City because of discipline problems. Their families were well-to-do and this was an attempt to straighten out these boys. The Nuns were very strict even to the point of insisting that they go on the campouts to supervise the boys. These Nuns were so mean, expecially the Mother Superior, that even the Priest was afraid to cross them.
When my four years at the ROTC detachment was completed, I was given the choice of assignments. Since I would be retiring, Air Force policy granted this assuming that the person wanted to be stationed as close to possible to the community that they planned to live in after retirement. We planned to live in Utah and requested and was assigned to the personnel office at Hill AFB, Ogden, Utah. We were assigned base housing and belonged to the Clearfield 9th Ward, Clearfield Stake.
In the 9th Ward, I was called as a member of the Elder’s Quorum Presidency and was assigned the responsiblity of monitoring home teaching. I also had a part in a church play “Because of Elizabeth” where I played Elizabeth’s Father. I was then called as Scoutmaster when the Bishop found that I had years of scouting experience. We did a lot of camping, and I taught the boys how to make delicious meals using a dutch oven. I owned a square dutch oven. You could put coals inside and by inverting the lid, it became a griddle. We had some of the best pancakes, peach cobblers and beef stew of any troop in the district. We did have a couple of scary times. We were camping up in the mountains one beautiful morning and there was a spring with ice-cold water. We decided to go wading. We were in the water, splashing around when we felt something swimming around our feet. We looked down and it was about a dozen rattlesnakes. I never knew that it was possible to walk and run on water, but I think we did. On another occasion, we were in a campground when a couple of rifle rounds hit the trees above our heads. Two hunters were sighting in guns further up the mountain and couldn’t see our camp below. I headed up there as fast as I could run, yelling for them to stop shooting. They did and were mortified when they found that they had been shooting through a boy scout camp.
In April 1980, I retired from the Air Force. I had planned to stay in Utah, but the pending teaching job fell through when the state cut the funding for the new school. I had been contacted by Dr Guthrie, the head of the Business Education Dept of Bowling Green State University offering me a position as a teaching assistant and an opportunity to receive my masters degree in education. I accepted and we moved to Bowling Green.
We would be there from May 1980 through June of 1981. I was called as a Ward Financial clerk, a member of the Scout Committee and as the Cubmaster. We had a good size Cub Pack. After my graduation from Bowling Green, I accepted a teaching position in Plain City, Ohio and we purchased a home in Galloway.
In Columbus, I held myriad Church positions over a period of twenty-three years. I was second counselor in the 4th Ward Bishopric, Columbus Ohio Stake. Timothy Ortman was Bishop and Rick Smith was 1st Counselor. I also served as Finance Clerk, Ward Clerk, Executive Secretary, Primary Teacher, Scoutmaster, Explorer Advisor, Stake Auditor, Seminary Teacher, Ward Music Director, Ward Chorister, and Priesthood Chorister. I taught high school for six years, then accepted a position with the Ohio Dept of Education for another 17 years and retired in 2004. We had purchased my parents home in Englewood, Florida when my Mother was unable to live alone and moved there in 2004.
We were members of the Venice Ward, Fort Myer Stake. When we first moved there it was the Venice Branch with Jesse Wood as Branch President. In 2005 the branch became a ward with Benjamin Shipley as Bishop. Several years later a new stake was formed, the Bradenton Stake and Venice became part of that stake. I served as Finance Clerk, High Priest Assistant, Temple Coordinator, Priesthood Chorister, Choir Member, Family History Specialist and Ward Missionary. Each year we would return to our home in Galloway, Ohio for the summer. I was usually given a calling for those three months as Priesthood Chorister and subtsitute Sunday School Teacher. In 2013, we decided to move back to Ohio permanently and bought a new home in London, Ohio.
In May 2013, Mary and I were called as Branch Missionaries and Mary as Meeting House Librarian.
Since we do not have a paid clergy, members are called to various positions, including speaking (we do not say preaching) at meetings. Some of these talks are very interesting, some will put you to sleep. We start this public speaking at a very young age. Members of all ages are invited to provide their testimonies. I have included another page of talks I have given. These links will take you to those talks if you wish to read them.
Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints means that you are going to be very busy. A major theme of the Church is service. There are many service projects to help communities. We clean parks, work in food pantries, help handicapped adults and children, assist other denominations fundraising or community events, visit the sick, and do public speaking. We love to have a good time, we eagerly participate in parties, concerts, talent shows, camping, youth activities, Christmas pageants, Trunk and Treat for Halloween, firesides, and many, many potluck dinners. We may have a garden project at our chapel to share with each other or neighbors. We are a very busy group of people. The following gallery highlights a few of these activities which have taken place in England, Florida, and Ohio. Since we have no paid ministry, almost every member is assigned to minister to several families. We bless them when they are sick, teach them in their homes, provide manual labor if they move or need help with a project in the home or garden. We provide transportation for medical visits. We are there to provide comfort for family sickness or at death. We try to serve with the thought “What would Jesus do?”