Church Characters #4: Wilmer

During a series entitled “Church Characters,” I’m recalling some memorable people from decades of ministry.

The bishop appointed me to a two-point circuit after graduating from seminary. Founded in 1840, Mount Carmel was the larger of the two churches. The white clapboard sanctuary still stood, but rotten wood sills made it uninhabitable.

A new building stood next door. With the sanctuary completed, the congregation began work on the education space. The Sunday School area took another year to finish.

A church member and builder named Wilmer oversaw the project. The general contractor invested countless hours into his church home. In addition to regular churchwide work days, Wilmer often worked alone on nights and weekends.

Wilmer and I came from radically different worlds. Wilmer grew up in Coweta County and possessed a high school degree. He took a conservative view of the world. I grew up in Decatur before our family moved to Woodstock. I attended college and then seminary. I must have appeared to be a flaming liberal in his eyes.

However, we both loved the church in general and Mount Carmel Church in particular. Even when we couldn’t agree to disagree, neither of us ever questioned the other’s faith and devotion.

One fall day I received a frantic call from a family member. While framing a house, Wilmer lost his grip on a pneumatic nail gun. It landed atop his head, driving a nail through his skull and into the brain.

I waited long hours with the family in the Emergency Room. The doctor later told us he literally used a claw hammer to remove the nail! Despite bleak warnings about brain damage, infection, and long-term effects, Wilmer recovered completely.

I don’t believe the Lord dispenses miracles based on merit. Wilmer’s selfless work on behalf of the church PROBABLY didn’t affect his medical results. However, I cannot help but suspect that Jesus intervened in a special way for a fellow carpenter.

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