January 01, 2008 | Our Member's Stories by Ted Behr by Larry Burgland by Whit Beverly
With the forced transition to a zoom-based gathering this summer of 2020, guess who is attending again from his home high in the mountains of Montana? Rev. Ron poses questions that make scripture come alive in ways that support and sustain the members as they deal with the challenges we presently face.
Legacies that Last: A Rev. Ron Fritz Reminiscence
By Ted Behr
Rev. Ron served the WPC congregation as Interim Senior Pastor for two and a half years beginning April 2008.
Prof. Tony Campolo once suggested we should spend our time on what lives on… to begin early on to establish a personal legacy that lasts.
From its founding in 1870, God has graced Wayne Presbyterian with outstanding senior pastors – seven within memory of our oldest members. To his blessing of gifted leaders, we should add our many inspired associate pastors and dedicated interim ministers - each of whom has left a singular imprint on our spiritual and personal lives. The most recent senior interim, of course, was Rev. Ron Fritz, who served our congregation from April 2008 to December 2010. For many of us, his legacy lives on in a very special way.
Among the activities that Rev. Ron initiated was a weekly Wednesday men’s bible study. After he moved away, this special fellowship continued to meet before 7:00 a.m. at EmJ’s Restaurant in the middle of Berwyn. Emily, the proprietor, clustered 10 small tables in banquet style for us in her small dining room at the back. This privacy allowed us to boisterously share current happenings as we settled in and Harriet collected our orders. And we could pray together, munch oatmeal with raisins or eggs with extra-crispy fried pork roll, and have spirited discussions of scripture – without disturbing their other patrons.
Now, thanks to Zoom, Ron joins us again from Montana, although he has to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to do it.
When Whit Beverly, an original member of the group, thinks of Ron, “the words joyous, genuine and active come to mind. At the church, his booming belly laugh and ‘hello brother!’ greeting could be heard 3 offices away. He was very present when talking with you… always responding to your words thoughtfully and honestly.” As a manager himself, Whit felt Rev. Ron understood that effective interims got done what had to be done, even if it meant breaking with tradition – persuading session to change the number of deacons or relocating the church picnic.
Larry Berglund added, “Many of us had never been part of a Bible study that included that kind of fellowship. Ron was able to get each of us vested in it, sharing a great deal about ourselves as we grew together in faith and in our knowledge of what it meant to be a Christian.
“A highlight for all of us was a retreat up in Eagles Mere, PA. We had good discussion sessions on a book about being a Christian man that we had read in advance. But it was the time we spent walking around the lake, on the golf course or by the tennis courts, sharing meal preparation and eating, and chatting and singing after dinner that were incredible. By the end of the week some of us who had not really owned our faith before had grown to where we could all see it.
“Ron always made it easy for us to have those moments, but he also pushed us in ways that forced us to grow. He remains, to this day, one of the several most influential people in helping me to explore my faith and to feel comfortable about what I read in the Bible and how I share it with others.”
Whit added, "If I had to pick the retreat moment which was most “Ron” to me it was our sharing communion.” Although he knew the origins of the sacrament and its meaning for believers, something about it felt incomplete when it was enacted at the altar and passed down to worshippers in the pews. “At the retreat, our small group sat in a circle, each offering the communion elements in turn to the man next to him. Ron was simply there, sitting with us as a brother Christian, humble and genuine.”
Larry, again: “Ron never shied away from discussing his understanding of life as an ongoing battle between Christ and Satan for our souls.” Indeed, one of the last things he said as the retreat was winding down was that Satan will try to steal or dismiss the joy they had experienced that weekend. “He was right,” Larry indicated. But for him, Satan will never win that contest!