Clergy Corner, May 24, 2019

Clergy Corner, May 24, 2019

It's among Vermilion County's most beloved holiday traditions — the live Nativity at Muncie First Baptist Church, complete with camels, donkeys and lambs.

If you've seen it, you may have recognized one of the Three Wise Men: the Rev. DAVE GARVER, the church pastor.

In a town of 140 and a church with 90 members, the 74-year-old Garver does a little bit of everything. But the native Ohioan and grandfather of 10 made time for a wide-ranging conversation with staff writer Tim Mitchell.

How did you end up here, in Muncie?

After serving at Ridgeview Baptist Church in Danville for 25 years, I retired in 2007 and still lived in Danville. I was involved with Habitat for Humanity, and we built over 50 houses there. My job was recruiting new board members.

One year, six of us went down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where, in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity of Baton Rouge, we framed up 17 houses in a week. Katrina had flooded New Orleans. The people flooded to Baton Rouge, and there was a big need for housing. We carried the big walls up and attached them to the foundation, put the rafters on and added the roof.

Tom Burke from this church was one of the six of us who drove down together. When the Muncie church's interim pastor left, Tom asked if I was interested. I felt like God was calling me again to serve him. I proposed that they call me as a part-time pastor. I come out on Wednesdays and Fridays, and I'm available for hospital calls at any time.

Now, I have been here for 10 years.

Take us back. What's your first memory of church?

I was about five years old attending Vacation Bible School. I remember the pastor's wife talking.

When I was 10 years old, I was baptized. I remember going down underneath the water. I opened my mouth and came up spitting and coughing. It was a young decision. I had a lot more adult decisions to make subsequently. I remember struggling with understanding things.

When I went to college, I had a lot of new questions. My faith became an adult faith. It became my faith, not just the faith of my parents.

When you were a child, what did you want to be?

I wanted to be a professional baseball player. My favorite team was the Cleveland Indians.

Ever get to go to an Indians game?

Between my junior and senior year of high school, I had a job with the Lawson Milk Company. People would order a baseball ticket, and all of those tickets came in from the bread trucks and were tabulated at the Lawson Milk Company. My job was to drive the order up to the Cleveland stadium.

After the ticket orders were filled, I drove them back to Cuyahoga Falls. Then all the bread trucks would go out and deliver the tickets. It was a cool job. Five days a week, I would drive to Cleveland, and if the Indians were in town, I could watch a game as long as I could get back by 5 p.m.

When Cleveland was not playing, I walked around the stadium. One time, I actually walked out to the field and stood on the pitcher's mound. I had no idea the pitcher's mound was that high.

How did you become a minister?

I went to Kent State University to become a math teacher. I was doing my student teaching at Kent Roosevelt Junior High School in Kenmore, Ohio, to eighth and ninth graders.

My supervising teacher, a Mr. Santo, had studied to be a priest, and he got married. He had several children and was a devout man. They were offering me a permanent job in Kenmore, but I told them no.

While I was doing my student teaching, I went with my wife to her church, which was Calvary Baptist Church in Akron, Ohio. They had a guest preacher at a revival, and he spoke on the church at Ephesus. The word of affirmation for this early church at Ephesus was "I know your good works and the good things you have done, but you have lost your first love for Christ."

I recommitted my life to Christ that night and knew I was supposed to be a pastor. I went to Northern Baptist Seminary.

How did you meet your wife, Carol?

Carol is retired. She was an art teacher in District 118 in Danville, serving at Southwest Elementary School and Southview Middle School. We were both from Akron, Ohio.

She and I met in Youth for Christ at her high school. I came to speak to her club at the high school. We started dating a couple years after that.

We were married in 1968. We have four daughters and 10 grandchildren.

Tell us about the live Nativity program at your church.

We have been doing it for over 30 years. We didn't do it last year. We took a break, but we plan to bring it back this year.

There used to be a farm out here that had all these exotic animals. Two brothers as teenagers worked on that farm and knew how to handle animals like camels. To this day, they still have show horses here. They handled the animals.

When that farm was gone, we needed to find somewhere to get the animals. We have to rent them now, and there is a farm in Indiana that rents the animals for $1,500 a night.

Most of the people in the nativity scene are our members of our church. When I was a Wise Man, I held Felicia the camel. It was a young camel who was down on her knees. We have people in this church who came to this church because they found out the live nativity, came and decided to join us.

Have any hobbies?

I like to work in the yard. I mow my own grass most of the time. I planted four trees this spring, two cherry trees and two pear trees.

How about a favorite team?

I am a Chicago Cubs fan. I moved to Illinois when I was 22 years old. I watch Cub games on TV. And I like the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts.

In pro football, I enjoy the quarterbacks. I like the Green Bay quarterback, who is a remarkable player. I like Drew Brees in New Orleans, who is a great Christian guy.

What's your favorite food?

I like stuffed peppers. I like a good honey baked ham. I like drumsticks. I like a good salad and Monical's pizza.

Favorite movie?

"The Shawshank Redemption." Going way back, I love "Chariots of Fire." I was brought to tears by "Les Misérables."

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