This afternoon I will be attending the memorial service of a dear friend and life-influencer, Rev. Merle (Skip) Pimentel. He died on November 21, 2018. bit.ly/2SqSs9b
Let me tell you how I first met Rev. Pimentel.
As a teen, my family had just moved to Ipswich, and as with all our other moves, my parents made quick work of getting us involved in a church family.
There was one problem, however: we were Presbyterian and there were no Presbyterian churches at that time in Ipswich. My parents wanted their daughters involved in a church that was in the same town as their classmates.
Each Sunday we went to a different church. Nothing clicked. There was only one church left: Immanuel Baptist.
You see, from my parents’ experience, Baptist meant Southern Baptist, and that meant crazy stuff, like rollin’-in-the-aisle stuff. Perhaps you can see the dilemma. (Please do not take offense those of you who are Southern Baptist, we are just a family of a more conservative style of worship. In the name of our Lord Jesus, I wish all Southern Baptists His blessings on your style of worship.)
The Sunday we went to Immanuel, my dad was ill, so my mom bravely took my sister and me to the holy roller Baptist church on the hill. We filed into the pew and waited. The organ music started. Shortly thereafter, we stood and in walked Rev. Pimentel. He had a distinctive walk—it had a bit of a bounce to it and was very upbeat. His hair was slightly longer than most men’s although it was nothing that alarmed my sister and me. Later my mom would tell my dad that between the walk and the hair, UH OH screamed through her brain. She was getting ready to roll.
Rev. Pimentel’s sermon that day I cannot remember. All I know is that it was of the sound Biblical principles that were (and still are) so important to our family. We left church that day and my mom reported to my dad, “We have found our church.”
It also turned out that we had nothing to fear about the rolling in the aisle stuff since Immanuel was American Baptist, not southern. Phew! Big relief there.
In those early years, I remember that Rev and I had a discussion about prayer and about praying without ceasing. We decided to meet regularly and pray—each with a specific need we hoped the Lord would honor.
I cannot remember what I prayed for, but there are two things that stand out from our prayer meetings from that time:
First, here was this adult who respected me enough to meet with me and pray. This was big. Prior to Rev, pastors were unreachable to me. I was to sit and listen and then hustle off to Sunday school. Not so with Rev. He was present to each member of his congregation.
The second thing I remember is that his prayer at that time was for a parcel of land that the church owned to someday become affordable housing. Well, his prayer was answered. It is called Oak Hill.
Decades have passed since that first Sunday, and Rev was always there for me, even when I, heartbroken after my mom’s death, could not face going to church. I would pop into his life unannounced and we would pick up where we left off or I would pour my heart out to him and he listened. He always demonstrated to me a heartfelt love that is certainly of Christ as well as a steadfast commitment to Biblical truths. Rosy platitudes which have no place in Biblical study was never his thing. And I am grateful for and am blessed by that commitment. I counted on it.
You have probably noticed that throughout this piece I have referred to him as “Rev”. I started calling him that (with no disrespect intended) since I, from a young age, had a habit of giving nicknames to those who were very special to me.
If you have read this blog about me, you will notice that among the major influences in my life have been “Skip” and Barbara Pimentel. Together this team did not belong to the “WWJD” (What would Jesus do?) element but more importantly adhered to the, “What would Jesus have you do?” tenet. They were guided by and acted upon what Jesus would have them do.
To bubbly Barbara and to their dear daughters Debbie and Susan, I wish you loving memories and, eventually, laughter remembering good times.