by Lynn Laughlin
Growing up in a minister’s home can be a blessing or a curse, or a combination of the two. Mine was an absolute blessing. My father, Ernest Laughlin, was the minister at the West Side Christian Church in our brotherhood. My father believed that the church would only grow if the eldership gave solid leadership and clear direction to those in their care. His task was to help raise up men who understood and accepted that task. He accomplished that goal over and over with dedicated men who responded to that challenge. In return, our family was totally supported in every circumstance by those wonderful servants of the Lord.
I have lived long enough to know that at some ministers’ homes there are words that are spoken about elders that are rather derogatory and hurtful. I also know that in some elders’ homes that Sunday lunch was about the minister and his shortcomings. I can honestly say that we never had the elders discussed in a negative way at any time. Because of this trust and bond between my father, the minister, and the elders, great things were accomplished for the sake of the kingdom.
In the late 1940s the church decided to build a large two-story educational wing to house an expanding Sunday school program. After the building was completed, my father began to cast a vision to the elders about how to be better stewards of what God had provided for them in that building. Standing idle for the larger part of the week was not good stewardship. So the elders gave my father their blessing in sending him to the west coast to look at the possibility of starting a school centered on Christ in that new building. The end result was the establishment of the Christian Day School which is still a part of West Side with a new name Springfield Christian School. Today it has a pre-school and a K-8 with an enrollment of over 400.
There was another program that my father, through the elders, thought was important and that had to do with the establishment of other churches in the Springfield area. Out of that push, three churches were started: South Side Christian Church, Monroe Street Christian Church which was an African-American congregation, and Bunn Park Christian Church. Members of West Side were encouraged to go to these churches to help them grow and provide leadership for them.
In the late 1950s my father was stricken with Parkinson’s disease. Slowly but steadily his health began to decline. The elders were supportive in helping him continue his ministry at West Side with some limitations. In the summer of 1962 my father went on an extended Holy Land tour. While the group was in Rome, he had a nervous breakdown and my mother was contacted by the leader of the tour. My mother immediately got in touch with the elders and together they planned out what to do. My father was helped by a missionary serving in Bari, Italy that he had influenced to go to Bible college. The elders sent my mother and younger brother to be with them in Bari until he was able to come home. The elders prayed and made weekly calls to check on us just to make sure we were doing well.
We couldn’t thank them enough for all that they did during that time, and with the closing years of my father’s ministry at West Side. The names of several of those elders are on my Ordination Certificate which I cherish to this day. The rest of the names of those elders are written on the Lamb’s book of life. West Side still has strong eldership who faithfully serve with their minister Eddie Lowen. To God be the glory for the things He has done.