The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A matter of respect

Pastor calls town to task for breakdown in behavior

Thirty students from Menasha [Wis.] High School were hanging out across the street on the grounds of St. Timothy Lutheran Church — outside the school's no-smoking zone. Typical at lunch hour. Except this April day the church doors opened for the casket of a member to be carried to a waiting hearse. The teens stood in its way. They laughed. Their talk was loud and obscene.

"I just blew up," says James Plymire, pastor at St. Timothy for 23 years. " 'That's it. That's enough,' I thought. I demanded that the principal come over and apologize to the family. He did, and so did the president of the student body and, later, the superintendent of schools and the mayor." The family appreciated the response.

But two nights later, after midnight, Plymire woke up restless. He pounded out his frustration, his fear and his judgment in a sermon he delivered not from his pulpit but to The Post-Crescent.

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