All in the family: baseball and Jesus
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Patrick and Katie Beth McCarthy’s oldest son, Miller,…
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Over and over again, the small world of Churches of Christ amazes me.
Before a recent trip, I asked Facebook friends for story ideas in Alabama’s capital city. Russell Epperson, minister for the Central Montana Church of Christ in Lewistown, proposed a feature on Patrick and Katie Beth McCarthy.
They “have a cool adoption history that might be good to report on,” Epperson said of the Faulkner University baseball coach and his wife.
“All around, they seem like very loving people who love their church home, too,” the Montana minister added. He described them as “normal folks living out an extraordinary Christian life.”
I did a little digging. I determined that Epperson’s assessment of the McCarthys was 100 percent spot on. So I contacted the McCarthys to request an interview. To my delight, they accepted.
After we finished talking on a blue-sky Saturday morning, Patrick gave me a Faulkner baseball cap, and Katie Beth snapped a quick picture of the coach and me on the baseball field. I posted that photo and one of Patrick and Katie Beth on Facebook. I urged readers to look for the couple’s incredible story of faith in a future edition of The Christian Chronicle.
That’s when things got interesting.
Mutual friends, who I did not realize knew the McCarthys, started commenting.
“Katie Beth McCarthy is one of the kindest souls I’ve ever known and worked with,” said Lane Widick, discipling minister for the Mayfair Church of Christ in Huntsville, Ala. “Put her with a guy like Patrick McCarthy, and you’ve got a winning team.”
“Great couple and servants of God,” said Terry Davis, a popular worship leader who teaches Bible at Ouachita Christian School in Monroe, La.
Then things got really interesting.
“Bobby’s grandparents Lloyd and Margaret Ross lived in Portageville when we did. They were best friends of Grandmother and Pop!”
The next person to comment was Judy McKenzie, Katie Beth’s mother and a retired accounting professor at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn.
“Bobby’s grandparents Lloyd and Margaret Ross lived in Portageville when we did,” McKenzie explained to her daughter. “They were best friends of Grandmother and Pop!”
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. My grandparents and Katie Beth’s grandparents not only knew each other, but they were best friends. What are the odds? (Yes, I know, maybe not as low as you might think given the close-knit nature of our fellowship.)
I’ve written past columns about my Papa and Grandma Ross.
In the 1970s, they were active in leading the JOY bus ministry at the Portageville Church of Christ in southeastern Missouri’s Bootheel.
Related: A letter to my newborn granddaughter
Papa, who survived being shot in World War II, was a farmer and carpenter. He died in 2011 at age 93. Grandma helped support the family by sewing in a garment factory, but her life revolved around church and family. She died in 2009 at age 85.
Jim and Florine Miller were Katie Beth’s grandparents. Pop Miller, a welder by trade, died in 2000 at age 79. Grandmother Miller, a teacher’s assistant and homemaker, died in 2010 at age 90.
“Momma!!! This is INSANE!!!!” Katie Beth wrote on Facebook after learning of the connection between our two families. “Bobby, my oldest son (Miller) is named after my Pop!!!”
As it turns out, my father, Bob Ross, and my Uncle Kenneth had picked cotton, gone rabbit and deer hunting and enjoyed other adventures with Katie Beth’s family.
My cousin, Patty Ball, had grown up with a crush on one of Katie Beth’s uncles. This was, of course, before Patty married her high school sweetheart in that same red-brick church building in 1978. I was 10 at the time and blessed to attend the wedding ceremony. My baby sister, Christy Fichter, then 5, served as a flower girl.
Such precious memories!
I can’t thank Epperson enough for urging me to write about the McCarthys. They do have a cool adoption story. And the story behind the story is pretty neat, too, if you ask me.
BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].
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