Christian Chronicle

‘I don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb’

A minister transition can be difficult. An Oregon congregation seeks to make it work.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

CORVALLIS, Ore. — After 38 years of ministry with the Circle Church of Christ, Gregg Strawn sprinkled bits of humor, warning and reflection into his final sermon.

Sporting a tie that belonged to his late father — a former elder of this 150-member congregation in the hometown of the Oregon State Beavers — Strawn explained why he always wore suspenders when preaching.

“It’s a very complex answer,” the 66-year-old minister teased. “It has to do with physics and body shape.”

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As the congregation burst into laughter, he added, “But in a simple word, I wear suspenders to hold my pants up.”

“Amen!” one church member shouted.

“Praise God!” another declared to the delight of the guffawing crowd.

The Sunday morning hilarity helped relieve the tension for Christians faced with losing the only preacher many ever had known — the one who had baptized entire families, performed wedding ceremonies for generations, spoken at countless loved ones’ funerals and rushed to so many hospital bedsides.

When Strawn decided to retire, word reached Thomas Pruett — a young minister with ties to Oregon — that the Circle church needed a new preacher. Pruett’s response was immediate and emphatic.

“No,” he recalled telling his wife, Amy. “I will not be the guy after a 38-year-tenured guy. I don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb.”

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This story appears in the October print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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