Local pastor devoted to area school children

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 22, 2004

The Rev. Dr. Ron Stone is a pastor who goes where he would like his people &045; the congregation of First Presbyterian Church &045; to follow. He reads children’s stories weekly in the third-grade class of Mary Lain Peel at Clark Elementary across the street from GWC Homes.

Peel happens to be a member of First Presbyterian’s session &045; the congregation’s governing body of which Stone serves as member and moderator &045; but that connection is not the compelling reason for his being there.

Stone said, &uot;I have been a volunteer reader for many years, when my sons were younger in their classes.

Email newsletter signup

Stone stands in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition of Protestant churches, and while Presbyterians have no monopoly on service to the community

&045; and would never claim such &045; a deeply held conviction has been the responsibility of God’s people to be present and active in the community in the service of compassion and justice.

That’s where Stone knows he needs to be, where he chooses to be, where he is called to be &045; and where he is.

Peel is an almost native Selmian, having moved here with her family at age 3.

Her late father worked for many years with International Paper

and as a consulting forester and her mother as a teacher at Selma High School.

Her family is committed to public education and she personally has devoted herself to it for 26 years.

On this particular day, Stone is reading from one of the favorite series for the children &045; R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps. This particular volume in the series is entitled &uot;The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb&uot; and involves a scary tour by two cousins of the inside of a pyramid, during which they are pursued by a threatening defender of the Egyptian dead.

Watching the children watch and listen to the reader is an interesting exercise. Some are distracted, some are acting out, but a few are totally engrossed. The vast majority appear to be very happy that the Presbyterian pastor came to share some time with them.

Stone is a very gifted reader and puts himself completely into his 30-minute slot. Then he quietly slips away to look after the flock and to perform the other duties of ministry.

Outside on the wall of the school is a fabric sign sponsored by Coca-Cola that proclaims his mission &045; and that of others who give of their time, energy and imagination to support the community’s schools, whether or not they have children enrolled. The sign reads: &uot;Failure is not an option! We will

pass SAT 10!&uot;

The school secretary said that the sign refers to the state test that will be administered to third, fourth and fifth graders April 12-16.

Surely the work of Stone and all the other volunteers &045; not to mention dedicated teachers, administrators and parents &045; are needed to achieve that and the much broader goals of the educational enterprise.