There are a group of pastors who minister in rural Florida who have become my friends over the years.  We meet each week for prayer and fellowship.  As program leader of The Special Gathering which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community, I occasionally feel like a fifth wheel in pastor’s groups.  However, from the beginning, this group of pastors was different.  For one thing, they meet every week.  It’s a prayer/fellowship group where the men and women are free to share their concerns and problems. 

It is an interesting group.  There is a former boy evangelist who grew up in the pulpit preaching, leading praise and worship and seeking God.  He is now a respected pastor who has pioneered two churches in the area.  There are four or five Pentecostal pastors and their best friend is a fundamental Baptist.   The Lutheran pastor who left the area two years ago but keeps in contact through e-mail and phone calls is another female.  The Episcopal priest is a renegade even in conservative Florida Dioceses.  Two of the men are youth pastors who are not yet 25.  

One young pastor in our group is finishing up his thesis for his doctorate.  One of the pastors has been so successful that he regularly teaches in a large Christian university in Central Florida, even though he has no college education.   There is a former magazine editor and a former Wal-Mart employee.  Four or five of the men own motorcycles; most of them drive a truck.  Though one of the trucks is a Cadillac Escalade.  A former strong man evangelist –known to fold frying pans, rip phone books and break layers of bricks–rounds out the group. 

I’m the oldest person in the conclave.  They have shown great respect for me and affectionately call me “one of the guys.” They listened to me whine for more than five years regarding a problem that was greatly effecting my personal life.  Because they were mostly a group of men, they expected me to get to be bottom line quickly and to bring my concerns to a speedy conclusion. 

This has been the best counsel and the most compassionate stern advice I’ve ever received.  They let me whine for about four minutes; then gently ask,  “And what can we pray about?”  There is much more that I could say about these supportive, wonderful pastors; but the best thing that I can say on this Thanksgiving Day is “Thank you for being my friends and letting me be ‘one of the guys.'”