Church Lady: Two people bring lots of joy to island churches

Joy, joy and more joy. Joy abounded in the San Marco Catholic Church Parish Center at the uplifting Paul Todd Concert, March 11 and when the members of the United Church welcomed their new pastor, the Rev. Richard Adair, at a Silver Tea on Sunday.

The Paul Todd concert

The San Marco Catholic Church’s Council of Catholic Women (CCW) presented a Paul Todd Concert in the Parish Hall. CCW supports three scholarships and 14 charities. The women’s group also partnered with the two-year old Stewardship Committee to collect books for the “Give a Kid a Book Program.”

Marie Brassard, president of CCW introduced Todd to the sold out audience.

“God has graced this young man with a huge musical talent. This is his seventh concert and each year Paul Todd gets better and better.”

Todd in turn began by thanking the ladies for having him: “We are like family here in the Diocese of Venice.”

Todd’s performance was breathtaking. He is a combination of a blonde Yanni and a caffinated Mannheim Steamroller. The versatile and warm showman sang and accompanied himself on six keyboards simultaneously. His hands and feet moved rapidly and the audience could watch his moves on the large mirror set up behind the keyboards.

Virtually, every instrument was represented on his synthesizers from string, to wind, to brass to percussion. His repertoire consisted of jazzed up gospel, praise, popular favorites by Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban, swing, show tunes, and a medley of legends in music. The audience rose to their feet several times during the concert.

The first time was when he sang out, “Stand up and Praise the Lord,” again during “God Bless America” and after his vibrant rendition from “Phantom of the Opera.” He also introduced his talented 16-year-old son Paul Todd, Jr. (P.J.) to the audience.

P.J. was a relaxed and talented singer. Todd Sr. left the stage several times to sing to and shake hands with the audience. He also took requests; one of which was “First Lady in my Life” which he wrote for “his mom and all moms.”

“Hey Mom ... the first lady in my life was you. There were bedtime snacks and nursery rhymes, for goodnight prayers, there was always time. You taught me to live by the golden rule. Made sure I got to Sunday School.”

He brought joy to the 500 plus people in the audience.

“I think this is one of the most fantastic concerts I’ve been to,” said Pat Mallon.

“It was so nice to have in the hall this time. On the stage you can see him and the acoustics are wonderful,” said Edna Raine.

“We are all very blessed to have a man like Paul Todd in Collier County — Naples and Marco, a talent that’s a gift to everyone. He not only entertains but motivates and inspires,” said Fr. Tim Navin.

Aside from the joy and inspiration at the concert, the Stewardship Committee collected over 200 books for distribution at the Manatee School and the Migrant Christian Child Care Center. Nelinda Bravo, former bi-lingual teacher and early childhood educator headed up the book drive.

“A lot of children lack English. The support for the drive has been wonderful and we plan to do it again next year,” said Bravo.

Cindy Henning is the Chairman of the Stewardship Committee. She was thankful to CCW and Fr. Tim for their support.

“I look forward to working with other organizations within the parish to reach out beyond the parish to help the needy in the community,” said Henning.

Marie Brassand, president of CCW, summed up the evening, “A wonderful concert once again. The crowds keep coming back. Perhaps, next year we can have two nights in March to accommodate everyone and the books are for a worthy cause.”

Although the book drive will be officially over by the time you read this, Bravo will gladly accept any new or gently used books for pre-K through grade eight. Give the joy of reading to a child. Books may be dropped off in the entrance of San Marco Catholic Church.

Welcome Rev. Richard Adair

Joyfulness abounded after the Sunday worship service at the United Church of Marco Island (UCMI). The Rev. Richard Adair officiated his first service as their new senior minister.

The Rev. Joy A. Baumgartner retired in 2007. The Reverend Dr. Neil Hunt served as the church’s interim minister for 16 months while the search committee sought the right candidate. It is the tradition of the United Church that the interim minister does not take the position.

The 65-year-old Adair is a pistol-packing pastor, who as a child climbed atop fence posts to preach to the cows.

“Cows are very attentive. They look at you with their big brown eyes and listen to every word. We would also go to the turkey farm and shout to the turkeys ‘say amen to that’ and have 30,000 turkeys gobble back.”

His family’s home had always been the place that the ministers would come to stay and he grew up in the church.

As a young man he went off to Western Illinois University where at first he thought he would study to be a lawyer and later considered speech therapy. He felt the call to the ministry in his sophomore year and enrolled in pre-theology classes at Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington, Illinois. He came out of college as a student pastor — a minister who pastors churches while still in seminary. He received his master of divinity from Evangelical Seminary in Naperville, Illinois, which is now Garret Evangelical Methodist Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. He has been preaching since 1964. He initially served at a Methodist church and a Congregational Church in Illinois. His next pastorate was a mission church on the Federal Indian Reservation in Matlaktle, Alaska where he served for three years. He literally constructed the meetinghouse and the parsonage with help from his Native American congregation, a couple from New England, and a couple from Pensacola.

“I worked on everything from the foundation to the shingles on the roof and everything in between,” said Adair.

“It was a hard serve, a good ministry and created more memories and used up more of my nine lives than any other.”

He next served 10 years as the senior minister at the Second Congregational Church, in Beloit, Wisconsin. He was then called to the Congregational Church of Sun City where he served before answering the call from UCMI.

In 2006 he served as moderator for the National Conference of the National Association of Community Congregational Churches and remains on the future planning committee of that organization.

The church in Sun City was, “one of the nicest churches I served in. The church doubled in size in seven years. We did three quarters of a million dollars in renovations and we had CC Pilgrims Estate Sales. We would hold estate sales for members and if they chose they could make a contribution to the church. We may be able to tie the estate sale idea in with our Bargain Basket Ministry.”

He also initiated grief counseling, an all-church retreat, “Walk Across the Room” an evangelical outreach, and Bible studies at Sun City. He referred to the members of the Sun City church, “as energized seniors, recycled teenagers.” The average age of the members there was 73. The youngest person in the church was his daughter who was 35. The congregation numbered 500 but each Sunday in season they averaged 1,200.

His spiritual gifts are preaching and teaching. He is Christ centered and strives to make Scripture practical for today. However, he considers himself more of a communicator than a preacher.

“It is more important to share our faith.” His favorite authors are Max Lacado, Rick Warren and Bill Hybels.

His worship philosophy is to allow the spirit of God to move among people, to allow worship to happen.

“When people are fed they continue to come.”

His prayer and hope for his new congregation is to have: “The church grow, be fed, and to feed others. We will grow together. We are all Kingdom workers.”

His first impression of Marco was that it was “way too rich for my blood.”

During an interview with the search committee he said, “I used to tell a daughter who lived in Florida that Florida was the last place I would want to live. One of the men on the search committee said ‘it will be.’ ”

Adair has had numerous hobbies over the years. The fishing and hunting he learned growing up on a farm in Illinois really helped him during his time in Alaska and he looks forward to fishing. He has not been on the ocean in 17 years. He has also done silver smithing and considers building houses a hobby — UCMI will dedicate the house they built on March 21. He also collects western art and six shooters. Several pictures of cows grace the walls of his new office.

Adair plans to fly back to Arizona on March 19 to drive back with his wife Kelly and their Cavalier Spaniels. His wife raises and shows the dogs. He described the dogs as, “cats that bark.”

After his first service, the members held a “Silver Tea” in his honor in Disseler Hall.

“He’s a down to earth guy. I enjoyed his out of the pulpit style. He preaches without notes,” said Roy Hucke.

“We feel that Dick Adair will really revitalize this congregation,” said Deanna Yates. “He brings so much enthusiasm to the church. His background in Sun City, the similarities in socio economics will help grow the church. His ability to organize people, to meet with them and to build on their goals and ambitions is a plus,” said David Yates.

“He apologizes about his back to the choir and frequently, turns to the choir to include them in his sermon, said Fred Reese.

Adair’s plans for his first six months are to get to know the church and the community. He hopes to have a “Purpose Driven Life” seminar in the fall.

Experience the joys of God and fellowship with His people. Visit one of the nine houses of worship on Marco or the three others nearby. For information see the listing under House of Worship.

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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