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From your Synod Executive: July 2023

Almost exactly a year ago, Joy Hebner (who lives in Lake Huron Presbytery) emailed to see if I could help her extend the ministry of her late father, the Rev. Dr. David B. Castrodale. Joy wanted to bless a new pastor with his robe, and recent seminary grad Greg Mennsen from Scioto Valley Presbytery has been so thrilled to receive it.

Here’s their story! Joy wrote,

My dad (the son, nephew and cousin of Presbyterian ministers) graduated from Dubuque Seminary and received his doctorate from San Francisco Theological Seminary. From his 1957 installation at his first congregation in Chillicothe MO, he was called to help struggling churches. This began a ministry of being called to churches in trouble leading to highly successful outcomes. (Dr. Castrodale is pictured in his robe, with Joy and her two children, and his parents, at right.)

He served Chillicothe MO, Bay City MI, Rock Island IL, Keokuk IA, and Alexandria MO, before being retiring in January 2020 after 62+ years of ministry in the Presbyterian Church. He held numerous Presbytery and Synod positions, including execs of both. He had a knack for fundraising and established a successful TV ministry in 1972 which remains ongoing.

He had a beautiful singing voice and was a gifted musician. A 1990 surgery for throat cancer left him with no vocal cords or voice box. After major setbacks, some life-threatening, he learned esophageal speech in order to preach again, and continued his ministry. He entered Heaven August 18, 2021, at the age of 88, when his cancer returned.

What could be a more appropriate gift to a new Presbyterian Pastor than to begin his career with a beautiful robe with such rich history?

After receiving the robe, Greg wrote,

After 35 years mostly teaching with the Dublin School District, I graduated from the Methodist Theological School in Ohio this May. I serve as Stated Supply for the Ostrander (OH) Church, where I gained my field experience. (Greg is pictured in his new robe at right.)

This small town church has a vibrant quilting group who painstakingly altered Joy’s dad’s robe to better fit me. The lady that did the alterations told me that the fabric in the robe is some of the most amazing fabric that she has ever seen, and that this robe is a “treasure.”

I agree with her, that the fabric is amazing, and that alone would make it a treasure, but the true treasure is that Joy wanted to share this with someone. God does some pretty amazing things, and this connection with someone that I have not met, that has blessed me so greatly is one of those things.

I cannot begin to express my appreciation to everyone who has made this possible, and particularly to Joy. I pray that some day we will have the opportunity to meet and share even more of the blessings that God has for us.

This robe captures the ongoing legacy of people who are living out their faith in Jesus Christ. What will your ongoing legacy be?

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD

Executive phone number 309-530-4578

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