Any friend of Earl Roberts was proud to say so. But Earl and I weren't just friends; he mentored me in ministry. He died in October 1996 at the age of 93. He picked up pneumonia on a trip to Jackpot, Nevada. Earl liked to play cards and slots now and then.
I never asked Earl for advice about pastoral ministry, and he never offered any. But during the nine years I served the Victor Federated Church in Victor, Montana, Earl always seemed to know when I was worried. He'd learned a lot about worry over the years because he took risks his whole life and saw them work out. He was a rancher, an auctioneer, owner and operator of a real estate company, and a drummer in his own dance band.
He was also head usher for fifty years at the Victor Federated Church.
I don't suppose being an usher is all that risky, but he'd seen enough in the church over the years to know how risky a pastor's life can be. I think that's what we had in common.
Earl was raised on a ranch in the Big Hole Valley ...1