Friday, July 11, 2014

Rose Cook: Madame Secretary

If you traveled to Western Kentucky down Highway 54 several miles from Owensboro you would come to a brick church on a hill between two highways. The sign reads: Dawson Baptist Church. You would be in Philpot, Kentucky. And if you were there from two o’clock until four o’clock this Sunday an important reception is going on. I wish I could be there. Rose Cook, Church Secretary for fifty years is being honored. She is retiring after all those years of faithfulness.

She was a member of the first church I served as Pastor. She baby sat with our daughter and a multitude of others. She always loved children. She had finished high school and the only work she had ever done was baby sitting. “Rose,” I would say, “You can do more.” She wasn’t sure at all. Finally I nudged her toward a business school in Owensboro about the time I left there. Word came back that not only had she graduated but she had made all A’s. She worked for a while at a Coca Cola office and then fell back to her old ways of babysitting. She had typed our bulletin for a long time—and slowly she became the Secretary of her church. And if you wanted to know anything about anybody—Rose Cook was the informant. She knew everybody and everything about that tiny community.

Lyle Schaller used to say that the most important person on the staff is a good Secretary. And he is right. Rose in her own quiet way was a good Secretary. She survived Pastors and building projects and I guess a zillion business meetings. Through thick and thin she stayed. That job was the making of Rose Cook. It gave her a status and a belonging that she and we all crave. She helped her church in innumerable ways and without her Dawson Baptist Church would  have been very different from the church it is.

We in the church mostly follow the ways of the world. We applaud the famous, the headliners and the rock and movie stars. But outside that circle are most of the folk that get up every morning, put their clothes on and open up the church and do what needs to be done. Without them—I don’t think the church could operate. Jesus said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” We don ‘t really believe that or we would treat people differently. Especially staff persons (other than the Pastor), Custodians, those that keep the sound system, the heating and air-condition units working.

Woody Allen, I think it was that said 80% of the job is just showing up. Rose Cook showed up. She could  be counted on. And next week when somebody else opens up the church and turns on the lights and gets things going—dear Rose Cook will be sorely missed.

My regret is that I will not be able to drive down Highway 54, turn into the Dawson Baptist Church next Sunday and hug Rose’s neck.

Rose Cook is in the blue dress. 1963.

                                           --Roger Lovette /

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