Bus breakdown just a slight delay, thanks to church's generosity
By RICK MAESER
Early on the morning of June 12, Pentecost Sunday, the Elizabeth Lee UMC senior high youth group left the church parking lot in Chickamauga, Ga., (near Chattanooga) and headed toward Epworth By The Sea for a week-long mission trip.
Seventy miles later, the driver pulled the bus to the side of I-75 with steam trailing behind it.
They made the short distance to the Cartersville exit, where they found safe harbor at the local McDonald's.
I was at the Elizabeth Lee church office when I got word from our youth leaders that the bus had broken down and they were stranded on I-75.
Elizabeth Lee UMC is one of the northernmost churches in the Northwest district, and in spite of the distance travelled, our youth were still in the Northwest district when they pulled over.
Sam Jones UMC in Cartersville is one of the last churches in the Northwest district as you travel south toward Atlanta, and is not far from the exit where our youth pulled off.
Because we knew each other and worked together in the district, I had the cell phone number for the Rev. Dr. Bill Burch, whom I called at around 7:50 a.m., less than 45 min. before his 8:30 a.m. worship service.
Bill called our youth leaders to assess the situation. When they learned that a repair would not be possible until the next day, Bill began making arrangements for our youth to swap buses with Sam Jones UMC, and continue on their trip to Epworth.
Within two or three hours of breaking down, our youth were on their way again in the miracle bus from Sam Jones UMC. They were loaned the bus for the full week of the mission trip. The Elizabeth Lee UMC bus was repaired and ready to be picked up on their return home.
It's hard to adequately express our thanks to the pastor, staff and leaders of Sam Jones UMC for what they did for us. It's beyond anything we could have expected.
We are especially grateful today to Sam Jones UMC for living out the love of Christ, and the spirit of our United Methodist connection.
Rick Maeser is pastor Elizabeth Lee UMC.