Civitan’s 18th luncheon given as appreciation to local clergy

Published 9:36 pm Friday, February 24, 2006

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
DOWAGIAC - Cass County Civitan Club honored area church leaders Wednesday noon at First United Methodist Church during its 18th annual Clergy Appreciation Luncheon.
City Clerk James Snow and Cass County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robert Wagel presented proclamations to President Linda Irwin, the county treasurer, praising Civitan.
Snow, on behalf of Mayor Don Lyons and Dowagiac City Council, recalled Penn Friends Pastor Bill Bruneau's visit to Dowagiac Rotary Club Jan. 19.
One of the sheriff's four volunteer road chaplains who notify next of kin when tragedy strikes, Bruneau shared a story “that will move your heart,” Snow said.
Honored clergy and guests included: host Pastor Bill Doubblestein, who retires from the First United Methodist Church in Dowagiac in June after 31 years in ministry, along with his secretary, Linda Nelson, and Becky Peters, Christian education director; Father Leo Taubitz of Holy Maternity of Mary Catholic Church and secretary Patti Mather; Federated Church of UCC secretary Elaine Bayles; Pastor Carole Vander Linden of First Church of Christ (Christian) in Sawyer; and Pastor Kevin Greenlee of First Church of Christ (Christian) in Howard Township and his wife, Kathy; past governor and current Area 3 director Phyllis Davis, whose chocolate fountain was a hit; Commissioner Gordon Bickel, R-Constantine; Sheriff Joe Underwood; Undersheriff Rick Behnke; Prosecutor Victor Fitz; new Assistant Prosecutor Mary Soorus for Family Court, who had been Circuit Judge Michael Dodge's law clerk/bailiff; and Police Chief Tom Atkinson. Honorees received plates Chair Sharon Harnden made.
Clergy Appreciation Week coincides with a World War II tragedy.
On Feb. 3, 1943, a torpedoed troop transport sank off Greenland, taking 675 men, including four chaplains, to watery graves.
Alexander D. Goode of Washington, D.C., John P. Washington of Newark, N.J., George L. Fox of Vermont and Clark V. Poling of Schenectady, N.Y., went down with the ship after giving their life jackets to soldiers.
With utter disregard for themselves, they stood hand-in-hand, praying for the men fleeing the foundering ship.
A little girl was born to Betty Poling after the Dorchester sank.
In recognition of their sacrifice, and in honor of what clergy do for all people, the Albuquerque, N.M. Breakfast Civitan Club in the mid-1960s set aside the week of Feb. 3 to honor and to show appreciation to clergy of all faiths.
Communities around the world adopted Civitan's Clergy Appreciation Week as a time to recognize their role in creating a better world citizenry.