One of the better events held in Columbia County last year was the observance of the National Day of Prayer in May.
The entertainment was phenomenal. My favorite performer was 9-year-old Keylie Johnson, who sang a spirited version of "The Butterfly Song."
Johnson's grandfather, the Rev. Pierce Norman, also made the event memorable. During a hymn in which the audience sang, Norman joined in by whistling - something his wife says he would do habitually, but never on request.
I can imagine Norman now whistling a happy hymn on streets of gold. He passed away Dec. 29 after a full day of hunting and playing with his grandchildren. A massive heart attack took him while he was sitting at the dinner table. Here one minute, in heaven the next, said his wife, Hazel.
As fellow Methodist minister Carolyn Moore says, Norman touched an "enormous" number of people during his years of ministry in Columbia County.
Most of those years were spent building a congregation at Lewis Memorial United Methodist Church. Later, coaxed from retirement, Norman came to little Riverview United Methodist Church, in Evans.
Riverview once was on the verge of vanishing. A beautiful little country church, it suffered the plight of many small congregations: Too many gray hairs and too little new blood. When gigantic Wesley United Methodist Church was established just around the corner, followed in later years by three new Methodist congregations, Riverview faded.
Then Pierce Norman arrived. Within months, Riverview was enjoying its highest attendance in years, laying a solid foundation for sustained growth.
Perhaps Norman has now had his "homegoing," as the new term goes, because little Riverview is ready to take its own next steps.
One thing is sure: Norman performed God's work while on this earth, and has earned the right to whistle in eternity. May he rest in peace.
Speaking of Methodist congregations, the new Covenant United Methodist Church was to hold its first-ever regular Sunday service this morning at Greenbrier Elementary School.
The Rev. Randy Monk said the church's Christmas Eve service was a success, and today's service was to help "work the bugs out" as the new church establishes its identity.
Ever on the lookout for historical proof that today's kids didn't invent juvenile delinquency, the other day I ran across an item published 50 years ago in The Columbia News.
In the Jan. 17, 1957 edition, in the column written by then-managing editor Mrs. H.S. Paschal - a distant relative - was this item:
"We shall turn the spot-light this week on a situation in our community which is deeply deplored and that definitely demands action on the part of all concerned. From time to time, we have referred to the wave of juvenile delinquency which exists today and erupts into serious acts of vandalism in various forms. Vacant houses in our community have been the targets for attack with windows and doors shot or knocked out, and other forms of damage done. ...
"It is much better for parents to curb such tendencies in their own good way than to have the law take a hand in something that would prove both embarrassing and painful. Certainly, the community should cooperate in putting a stop to this disregard of private and public property."
Those darn kids would be in their 60s by now, and if they're still around, they should 'fess up to their youthful indiscretions. The statute of limitations has run out on prosecution, but guilt hangs on you forever.
Besides: Wouldn't you just love to know who did it - and how they turned out?
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.