Tag Archives: world missions

Park Street Church Supports Every Odd Child

Park Street Church as seen from Suffolk University Law School, 9.28.2012, courtesy of David Bruce[Eric]: Yeah, I went to Moody, Moody Bible Institute, planning to go—so one year at the King’s College and then I wanted to transfer to Moody. That was when I joined Park Street, actually. Between Moody, I mean, The King’s College and Moody, I had to be a member of a church. Up to that point, I wasn’t one, so I asked Dr. Toms if I could become a member. They kind of took me on as an unusual case because they don’t normally accept somebody so quickly. But since they had supported me since I was a baby—they support the parent plus every other child. And so. . . .

[Stephanie]: Really?

[Eric]: That’s the way they did it for our family.

[Stephanie]: Every other child?

[maybe Heidi or Kim]: That’s just demented.

[Stephanie]: What, in the world, does that mean?

[Eric]: Since my mother. . . .

[Steve]: No. What he means is every odd child.

[Stephanie]: What does it—? No. I really want a serious answer. What, in the world, does that mean? Like, the rest of the children don’t get supported, too bad for them?

[Mary Lynn]: Isn’t that weird?

[TJ]: Is that when they get sent down on a raft in a whirlpool?

[Kim]: I guess the others [laughter; can’t hear].

[Eric]: The reason was because they didn’t support. . . . They supported my mother, who was from Park Street, but my dad was being supported from another church. And so they supported every other child, along with my mother. I don’t know why it was arranged that way, but that’s the way it was.

[Marcia]: I think part of the idea was that they didn’t want to give full support to the whole family because then, if for some reason they couldn’t follow through on that—correct me if I’m wrong—you didn’t have any other support out there.

[Eric]: Right.

[Marcia]: You couldn’t have any other support out there. Which is very interesting because, you know, in the late ‘90s, they went to a full-support system, in which they started supporting everybody—

[Eric]: Full time.

[Marcia]: —full time, so that they could have you when you came home on furlough. They could have you there within their church, because they just felt like everybody was doing a cameo appearance, you know, and people didn’t know the missionaries. It was a lot harder for them to raise money to send out missionaries. So their whole idea was if the missionary can work in the church when they’re on furlough, then they will become better known and all of that.

[Steve]: That was post-Kindberg.

story told by Eric (Lee’s son) with interjections by Steve, Stephanie, Kimberly and Heidi (Steve’s daughters), TJ (Kathryn’s son) and an explanation by Marcia (Steve’s wife) to the family reunion gathering on January 11, 2014; transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)

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  • What other funding models did missionaries in the family pursue?
  • What other churches supported Lee and Will Kindberg’s work as Bible translators with SIL?

The Legend of Steve

Steve Kilted, n. d., courtesy of Colin Duncan

Steve Kilted, n. d., courtesy of Colin Duncan

I’ve always been proud and I’ve told friends of mine, particularly guys in the Lodge, because—a lot of you don’t know I’m a Mason and I’m an instructor in Masonic work. Every once in a while, I get a new guy who comes in and I instruct him in his work. And sometime they start bellyaching about how hard it is, how long it takes for them to memorize stuff and all that.

I say “Let me tell you a story about a relative of mine, who tried to get in medical school in the States and he had too many Bs on his grade card.” This is the story I heard. Anyway, “but he was accepted by a medical school in Italy. The only trouble is he didn’t speak Italian. So he went over there and learned enough Italian, had a tutor to help him, and went through four years of med school. He graduated, got his license, came back to the States and took his boards, and got a license here, and became a medical missionary in Africa.” And I said, “If he could do all that, surely you can learn this work.”

[Laughter]

[Kathy]: There you go! The story of Uncle Steve.

story told by T. J. Ramey [Kathryn’s son] to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014; recorded and transcribed by Dawn [Steve’s daughter]

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  • Dad, you tell us the story now. Let’s hear it in your words.
  • Anyone else have a family story that got a little lofty or mangled in the re-telling? Tell us the story. How did you discover the “legend”? How was it different from your experience or your hearing of the story?

Park Street and Missions

Taylor Joins PSC, 06.26.1966, courtesy of Gloria Boyer

Taylor Duncan Joins PSC, 06.26.1966, courtesy of Gloria Boyer

So we were up in Boston and one of the first things that we did, that Dad [Taylor] did, was to get us connected to Park Street Church, which was one of the reasons for a lot of us eventually going into missions. But your Mom—Eric, Virginia—Lee, back in Pennsylvania, I can recall her working at a Afro-American kids camp and loving to do that. She was an outreaching young woman at the time.

She had been home and gone back and forth. I don’t know where it was at the time, but she went to West Suburban Hospital, where she graduated in nursing [~1950?]. That was part of Wheaton College connection there.

[T.J.]: That was who?

Virginia Lee Duncan, at that time, Kindberg.

[T.J.]: Your mother?

No, my sister.

[Heidi]: Their mother. [Heidi points out the Kindbergs in the room].

[T.J.]: Their mother.

Their mother. Yeah. Their mother.

So we were up in Boston and Park Street Church became a central part in our lives. Dr. Ockenga, who had come to Park Street Church in the ‘40s, also picked up the vision from Oswald Smith, up in Toronto, of missions. That developed up quite a bit at that church and so that was an early stimulus in my own life to go into missions. Although I had earlier, one of the things that I wanted to do in life, was to be an architect, but also there was the idea of going into medicine, which eventually happened, but only after, of course, university at Gordon College.

story told by Steve to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014; recorded and transcribed by Dawn [Steve’s daughter]; see also A Practical Vision for World Missions, for a fuller edition of this story

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    • What year did Lee graduate from nursing school?
    • What was the name of the kids’ camp where Lee worked? Can someone relate that story more fully? What years did she work there? How did she get connected to it?
    • Grandpa’s documents show him joining Park Street in 1966. When did Grandma join Park Street Church?

A Practical Vision for World Missions

AngolaDr. Ockenga’s vision for missions was sparked by the People’s Church in Canada and it lit up this church’s vision. His/their method of fund-raising for missions got to be famous and inspiring in always attempting from the pulpit to encourage a growth each year in the budget and the number of missionaries that it supported. I picked up the vision for missions there and also via my sisters [Lee and Betty], who were reinforced by the teaching and worldview of the church.

One of the missionaries, Dr. Robert Foster, a good speaker and lively advocate of medical missions in Africa became one of my ideals for foreign service. He was first a missionary sharing the Gospel and then a very interesting and resourceful physician and surgeon in third world service. He later became sort of a mentor by mail of my progress through medical school.

With pleasure and excitement we accepted the call for foreign missions in Angola after a stint doing medical work in South Dakota among the Sioux Indians. Park Street Church became a willing and supportive backing for our service of 17 years.

Park Street’s purpose was to be intimately involved in the lives and work of its foreign representatives. Through the 100% support policy, the whole congregation got to know us individually and in our own priorities there in Africa. A Barnabas Group, with eight to twelve members, closely followed and upheld us in their prayers and with material and emotional backing.

We were blessed greatly and more profoundly than by any of the other 15 churches that financially supported us during our time out in Africa. Only the Newton Presbyterian Church did as great a financial support though perhaps a lesser emotional and spiritual support. The Park Street vision is to be applauded and emulated by any church.

written by Steve for Colin Duncan (Bob’s son), March 18, 2011

My sister Lee had been involved with a camp specifically set up for African American children. This existed while we were in Philadelphia and I was probably five years old. It impressed me that she was doing it cross-cultural work, and not for the purpose of being cross-cultural but in service to God. Most of the time that I was growing up, Lee was out of a house in university nursing school and preparing for work, probably in the third world. So I had the vision planted in my mind that this was a way to go when I was an adult.

While I was in high school and early college, Betty and Harley when off to France in mission work. Because they too were highly favored in my estimations, they impressed me that I needed to go somewhere “out there” for the purpose of sharing the Gospel.

But perhaps the foremost in my leadings toward mission work was Park Street Church, which my father (Taylor) insisted we attend when we returned to the Boston area after the Second World War and our return from Philadelphia. Figuring in this influence were annual missions conferences,  where missionaries were paraded in front of us and challenged us to be involved in taking the Gospel to somewhere other than our own home. Among those that were a challenge and an encouragement were Dr. Robert Foster and his wife Belva. They had been working in Zambia. Later they started work in Angola, a Portuguese speaking country. I corresponded with them during my college and medical school career. It was Park Street’s minister Dr. Ockenga that started and kept the motion going toward missions as the only alternative for our future.

Both of my sisters Lee and Betty were being supported in their mission work by Park Street Church. It was only natural that after my time in the U. S. Army and in graduate school that I took six months off and went to Peru. I worked in the medical laboratory there because I had already been trained in that work. After asking Marcia to marry me, I left for Peru and its jungles. After the short term work in the laboratory, I returned in the middle of 1966 and we got married (Dec 1966). Even before Marcia and I tried tied the knot, we spoke extensively of serving in the third world. When we returned from medical school in Italy, I entered the internship at the Waltham Hospital, surgical residency at the Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, Massachusetts, and then five years with the Sioux Indians in Sisseton, South Dakota. We listened to an appeal for help in Angola to start a new hospital. So in 1983, we left for Portugal to get two months of training and the Portuguese language, and then flew to Luanda, Angola and eventually to Lubango in the Huila Province. Serving in a cross-cultural situation was being fulfilled.

added by Steve on November 26, 2012

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Harley Marries . . . Park Street Church

Harley and Betty Smith sign the marriage register at Park Street Church, 06.28.1952, courtesy of Sandy MoyerI was an outsider to Park Street Church until I met the lovely Betty Duncan at a youth meeting of which her brother [Wally] was the director. She played for me to sing and she did such a wonderful job I gave her a lifetime contract. Best arrangement I ever made!

Shortly after meeting her we went to the Missions Conference at Park Street. I was pleased and shocked at the total involvement of the church in this endeavor.

I can remember writing to my mother, “This is the first time I have experienced football game enthusiasm for the things of the Lord!” On the final day when people indicated how much God was leading them to contribute to the missions outreach of the church in the coming year, the usually staid Dr. Ockenga became a cheerleader and was full of fun. As the calculating machines clicked down in front, providing him with the latest totals, he would then share the totals with the congregation to encourage them.

Occasionally he would ask one of the missionaries that had been featured during the ten-day conference to come up and share some aspect of the need on their field.

Toward the end of the service he would tell people that it was time for them to turn in their “repentance pledge,” whereby they would indicate that they repented that they had not given all that the Lord wanted them to give! Many did just that.

I am unaware of recent yearly amounts, but it is often over $1,000,000!

Park Street gave to our support the 35 years we were in France. Often they would inquire as to our support level, or would simply increase some, knowing the situation. They were the most faithful in their support of God’s work through us. We are grateful to God and to Park Street.

written by Harley Smith (Betty’s husband) for Colin Duncan (Bob’s son), March 18, 2011

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The Family Attends Park Street Church

Park Street Church as seen from Suffolk University Law School, 9.28.2012, courtesy of David BruceFollowing World War II, Daddy [Taylor] left the Navy and we returned from the Philadelphia area to Boston. Since Mother [Virginia] and four of the six children had found Christ during the war years, we needed a solid, Bible teaching church and a friend suggested Park Street. We found what we needed and began growing in Christ. All us teens found great friends and areas of service. I played piano for the Mayflower Pulpit services and Singspiration. Three of my brothers rang the church bell, among many other things.

Through various meetings while still in high school, I felt God’s call to missions, though I didn’t know where. Youth for Christ met at Park Street and in one of those meetings, for the first time, I heard of Europe as a needy mission field and God spoke to me that very night about serving there. I looked forward to the Missions Conference every year, and was amazed at how the missions’ emphasis was evidenced throughout the year.

Then I met [my husband] Harley [Smith] and separately and together we appreciated and benefited from the ministry of Park Street.

written by Betty for Colin Duncan (Bob’s son), March 18, 2011

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