MY LIBRARY - MY FRIENDS - I GIVE THEM AWAY TODAY
For the past 45 years these have been my daily friends, my constants. They have welcomed me in the mornings when I walked into my office, wherever it was. Many bear my underlines and comments. All of them carry my name inside their covers. And today they lie contained within clean boxes, ready for me to deliver them to a new home, not mine, but new for them. They are the volumes of my pastoral library.
My personal library began with a gift, a bestowment of many books from my pastor when I was a young man of 21. James Vold was one of the pastors of Calvary Church in St. Catharines, the church in which I grew up, from boyhood to manhood. He was moving to Philadelphia and was affirming my decision to study the Bible at college level when he invited me to his office. There Pastor Vold entrusted me with commentaries and reference books that launched the birth of my library. With each college course other books were added. By the time I was hired to pastor Calvary Bible Church in Smiths Falls, Ontario, I had a reasonable working collection of books with which to compose Bible Studies and sermons. Five years there, and then seven years in Peterborough at Ferndale Bible Church and now my library filled an entire wall of my office. Then I was called to Wishing Well Acres Baptist Church in Scarborough (now called Gracepoint), named after its community. I was blessed with a healthy book allowance and over the nine years of my pastorate there, I was fortunate to build that library with the finest of reference books. The Reformation Bookstore was owned and operated by an astute gentleman, a prolific reader, whose shelves were filled only with the most helpful volumes, old masters as well as newer editions. I would call ahead to tell him what I needed and when I arrived he would have a stack of books from which I could choose the several I found most helpful. Then I came to Cloverdale Baptist Church where I pastored for ten years all the while growing my library, giving some volumes away and adding others. And I concluded my formal ministry career with six years as the president of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada (EFCC), whose home office is housed in the Fosmark Building on the campus of the Trinity Western University.
Upon retirement three years ago, I found my double door closet of my study was the only space in which I could shelve my library. So my friends sat in rows, clean, dry and waiting for the less than regular times I might need one or two of them. And now, assured that we, Christine and me, will sell this home and move to something smaller, it is obvious to me that I will not have room for my library of ministry associates. I have asked young pastors occasionally whether they might be interested in having them. The response has been underwhelming because many pastors already have a library and they want only certain volumes that supplement their collection and other pastors are accustomed to e-collections. I preferred to gift the entire library. So I discussed giving my entire collection to a Bible College called Christ for the Nations, where because their own library is small and they are seeking accreditation and therefore must enlarge their collection, my books are a welcome addition. They will be useful again. That gives me pleasure. But is it ever difficult for me to let them go. I will pray a dedicatory prayer this morning.