Glenn was the youth pastor at the church I grew up in. He and his wife Cindy moved to the Santa Barbara area about six years ago and were visiting Bellingham for the birth of their first grandchild. (Does this man look like a grandfather to you? Seriously.) Since his time in Bellingham would be short several youth group alumni (as in, about 30 of us) gathered to meet with him on Saturday evening before they made the trip back home today.
The summer before my freshman year of high school, Glenn introduced me to Jesus. I had grown up in church and was as faithful a Sunday school attendee and participant as you could find. But Glenn introduced me to the man Jesus on a dark night thick with heat on a lake's edge in Idaho. Just a few weeks later, he baptized me in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the lake near the home in which I grew up.
The more I learn about and get to know Jesus, the more I imagine him a lot like Glenn: someone warm and approachable and youthful, always able to put you at ease. Someone who loves to laugh, someone who will tell you the truth, unflinching but with such love that even when it's painful, makes it easier to accept somehow. He hugs you and you know he means it. He strums the guitar effortlessly, enjoys surfing, and has an infectious laugh. He is the type that would drop everything if I was facing a crisis, needed counsel, or was struggling with tough choices. I know he did the same for my friends. I never felt small with him; I always felt like I was significant, like no matter what he had going on around him, I was what mattered in that moment.
As we sang songs around the campfire that night (which we had no trouble remembering), it struck me how formative his ministry was for me and for those who had gathered at the beach that night, how loved I always knew I was when I was with him, and how much influence he had on me and all those around me. I was impressed with how his love was multiplied in me and in the souls around me. It's a testimony to this man's ministry that after the passage more than a handful of years, youth he ministered to more than a decade ago would all carve out time on a Saturday evening, some driving several miles to be with him, to see him, to talk to him, to sing with him, and simply enjoy his presence and love him.
We stayed long past the time jaw-cracking yawns revealed our tiredness, adding log after log to the fire to keep it going. Under the canopy of a clear summer night beset with stars, we sang and loved and reminisced and we remembered where we came from.
photos taken by james