June 01, 1974 | Our Member's Stories by Ted Behr by Craig Stock
Ted Behr recalls how the Rev. Wesley Baker led a unique study group that led to a continuing practice of reading and small-group studies of the Bible.
An intriguing form of bible study is transformational
Reminiscences – Rev. Wesley Baker
By Ted Behr
The Rev. Wesley C. Baker was called as Senior Pastor at Wayne Presbyterian in June 1974. For four years, he sustained our wonderful tradition of provocative, deeply spiritual sermons. His story before coming to Wayne included such fascinating experiences as settlement of Hungarian refugees in Los Angeles, marching with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, and living with Christian Arabs on the West Bank in Palestine. After leaving us, he served as interim pastor at various churches for 25 years before his death in 2004.
Perhaps his most enduring legacy for us was that his dear wife, Delma, remained a vibrant, longtime member at Wayne and steadfast leader in our mission outreach. Their son, Ernie, and his wife, Debi, are still active members.
Over coffee at the counter of the drugstore then on North Wayne, Wesley shepherded me through a period when my faith was challenged. But before that, for some reason, he had included me in a pre-publication “field test” of his bible study book, You Belong in the Bible – The Wayne Biblical Experience. On Sunday afternoons, with his manuscript as a guide, 12 of us assumed the roles and personalities of the 12 tribes of Israel as they passed through their desert trials after the Exodus.
We gathered upstairs in the tiny Calvin Room and sat on pillows in a circle around a “campfire.” For an hour we read scripture and reflected on the challenges faced by our Israelite namesakes – and by modern believers. We learned how God leads his people by day and by night and provides for them in unexpected ways. Particularly relavant to our present troubled time, God taught them patience and endurance and the importance of community. Within our own group, of course, moved the Holy Spirit, but prodding us artfully from the side (as he took notes) was our resident “Moses.”
Although many of us had read the Bible and taught Sunday school classes, few had ever had an opportunity to “immerse ourselves in God’s word” (John 8:31). Thanks to the Rev. Wesley Baker, You Belong in the Bible initiated a practice of daily meditation on scripture and regular small-group Bible study participation that are still vital parts of my life.