I attended the Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting Oct. 27-29 and ran into a number of friends. I had a chance to spend some one-on-one time with a couple of them and really appreciated catching up a little. Unfortunately, I do not see either of them more than once or twice a year.
Both of my friends are at least a little older than I, but we have all been around awhile. One of them, Betty Cox of Cape Girardeau, was “driving” a walker, one of those devices that help a person maintain balance and stability when walking. She believes using it will likely be temporary as a limb heals from deep bruises from a fall.
A widow, she travels a good bit, just as she and her late husband, Bob, did when he was alive. They were particularly fond of driving to vacation destinations and attending other events, even if that meant trekking all the way across the country. I believe they enjoyed taking in the scenery and interacting with people along the way. They especially enjoyed being together; their love for each other right up until his death was noticeably evident to their family and friends.
Betty and another lady, a frequent traveling companion, had recently scheduled an out-of-state road trip but agreed to delay it until Betty’s leg was fully healed. Otherwise, she appeared to be doing well. Active in her church and other Baptist enterprises, she brought me up to date on herself and her family. Frankly, I am always amazed at her energy.
The other friend with whom I visited was Bob Kenison, who retired June 30 as president of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home but is fulfilling a couple of responsibilities with the ministry through year’s end.
We did a little bit of catching up, too. Bob was quietly prominent at the meeting. He was recognized during the Children’s Home report, and the convention gave him a standing ovation for his 36 years of strategic service when the agency went through some of its most challenging times, strategic changes and most successful years. The convention also approved a resolution of appreciation for his service.
As we talked privately, I mentioned that his leadership of the Children’s Home must have been very satisfying, considering all the children and families that were served and will continue to be served as a result of his dedication.
Bob acknowledged the satisfaction but deflected most of the praise. Countless staff members through the years did the yeomen’s work of direct intervention, he was quick to note. In fact, he seemed a little uneasy with the compliment.
Bob has continued to serve well past the “normal” retirement age, dealing with the expected aches and pains and occasional surgery of maturing — and he has continued to be productive. Now he is transitioning into retirement from a ministry that was one of the consuming passions of his life.
It is hard for some of us to imagine Bob not being president of the agency. Without question, he is dealing with that reality, too. How could he not?
As a Baptist newspaper editor for just over 30 years, I have had the opportunity to cross paths with people like — but not exactly like — Betty Cox and Bob Kenison. I’ve garnered advice from the two of them and others through the years; without doubt, I have gained some keen insights from observing them and other dedicated Christian servants like them. Any observant believer would.
Bill Webb is editor of Word & Way.