Then There Was One
Brother Wilfred E. Stephenson has fought a good fight, finished his course, kept the faith. Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 18, Elizabeth called and said quietly, "Brother Turner, I believe Wilfred is dead." I hurried to their home, and found him where he had fallen, in death still projecting the strength and confidence we had associated with his life. He died unafraid, ready to go. I can almost hear him now—"Brother Robert I have lived my life and then some. Younger men are going to have to take up and go on in there and like that." (Those last expressions he used to cover the things he did not say, knowing we would supply details in context.)
Brothers Steve, Parks, and Collins were the original overseers of this church. They worked as hand in glove: well known and respected in the community; determined to plant here a congregation of people who respected God's authority. Each had his own strength and function, with no hint of envy or jealousy. We have added two fine elders, but when Parks died last year it was clear he left a spot none can fill. And with Steve's death we will again feel a vacuum. This is not written in despair, for other men with character and talents will continue the work of God—leaning heavily on bro. Collins for a tie with the past, but building for a new and better future. We will remember them that had the rule over us, men that spake unto us the word of God; and considering the issue of their life, will imitate their faith (Heb. 13:7).
Brother Stephenson built his memorial while he lived—not of stone, but of young men: taught in his class, encouraged to "make talks," given confidence by one who genuinely believed in them. He liked to keep up with his "boys" and reminisce about them.
Plain Talk (V.15, N. 8) "Notes On An Elder," is but one of several articles taken from his work. We could count on Steve giving us the straight stuff: Bible truth, spoken in love, but aimed straight at each heart. He came frequently to my study, to welcome me home, discuss problems we had shared for 20 years, and tell me I should stay home and "quit running around all over the country."
"Elizabeth" (with some emphasis on the last syllable) was still a childhood sweetheart (married 58 yrs.) and they were the first to arrive at every service. Then bro. Collins would come, and together they would greet the rest of us. Others will help Vernie at the door. Wouldn't surprise me a bit to learn that Steve is waiting in the foyer of a certain Golden Gate.