Behind the Headlines

This installment of “Telling Our Stories” is mostly for pointing you to another story: Davis Yeuell’s recollections on life leading up the 1963 March on Washington, where he heard Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver The Speech.


Davis packs a lot of faithful living in his op-ed piece for the Times-Dispatch, but here are a few things you will not learn there:


When I was in the 11th grade, he was my Sunday School teacher at GPPC. That was a long time ago – the same year Dr. King died – but I still recall how Davis treated a group of teenagers as – people. He never dumbed it down for us, not that I could tell, and never condescended. I remember his sharing in our discussion of a Time Magazine article that it would be helpful to be aware it was written in “Time-ese”.  His wife Carolyn served as co-teacher, and occasionally they would have lively discussions in class of real-life stuff like raising a family – “lively” meaning “not always agreeing”. This teenager was impressed.


In 1990, Davis accepted a call as our interim pastor. We were between senior pastors, and for many of us it was an emotionally low time. Davis listened and led. He drew up a list of tasks that would let the congregation prepare for a new pastor, and then helped us implement them. He was both solid and transparent. When our new pastor arrived a year later, he stayed for nearly 15 years.


Serving as a minister member, Davis was a key crafter of our Welcoming Statement, adopted by the Session in 2002. The statement is often sited by visitors and new members as that which initially drew them to GPPC. It has given wings to our reputation as a welcoming church, and stands as a model when we might need a reminder. When I consider the denominational restrictions on ordination that were in place when the statement was adopted, I still marvel at the craftsmanship: it’s as if it walks up to the Book of Order, extends a hand and says “Peace be with you”, and then walks on to continue in ministry.


George Carlin often said that if he’d been the one to come up with the phrase “Make love, not war”, he’d have retired on the spot. Davis’s bio blurb in the paper lists him as a retired Presbyterian minister, but fortunately he has never retired from looking for the next right thing to do.


Now, please go read his column!


Alfred Walker

August 28, 2013

3601 Seminary Avenue, Richmond, VA 23227

(804) 359-5049, ginterparkpc@gmail.com