The phrase “pillar of the community” has become a kind of cliche, but in the case of Dr./Pastor Greg Howell, it is totally appropriate. From the time he took the reins of Grace Brethren Church from Rev. George Christie in 1981, Greg has made an indelible imprint on this community.

Awana, Vacation Bible School, lunches for students, hosting the Goldendale Christian School, “See You at the Pole,” Clear Lake Bible Camp, and on up to today’s Grace Kids, Greg strongly focused on the youth of our community, and many have felt this solid moral influence due to his leadership and the team at what is now Community Grace Brethren. He even started Saturday night services that families could attend together.

If you attended our Klickitat County Fair, you may have noticed a Sunday service there; that was Greg again. He was also a leader among the pastors here and a strong supporter and officer of our local pastors’ group, the Goldendale Christian Fellowship.

How do we measure the impact of such a man? That has already begun through the many testimonies from those of us who benefited and grew under his mentorship. I don’t know how many Precepts Bible study classes he taught; I only attended six or seven of them. He regularly welcomed interns here who learned about pastoral ministry through his skilled guidance. To say he will be greatly missed is another one of those statements that is so true in his case.

He and his wife, Colleen, were instrumental in the incredible breadth of adoptions that have ethnically enriched the Goldendale area. At one time, there were over 100 children who had been adopted from numerous places around the world. I’m sure that number has grown. They adopted nine of their own, and this family legacy is large, powerful, and enduring. Whether you knew Greg or had never met him, you can be assured that Goldendale is a better place for his presence here. Our challenge now is to continue to follow in his very large footsteps and see what God can still do here through the next generation of those who follow. This will be the greatest testimony to his memory. I plan to saddle up and press on; I hope some of you will do the same.

I close with this thought: Jesus came to us to give us hope and life. Take some time to reflect on this incredible gift as you celebrate this special season. Merry CHRISTmas and a blessed New Year, from your neighbors at the Goldendale churches.