The Kindest Elder I’ve Ever Known

Neal Pollard

He was appointed an elder during the Reagan administration. At the very time he was appointed, the congregation was reaching the climax of a very traumatic incident. A man who was a charter attender, but not a member, when Bear Valley began meeting, he has seen every great work this congregation has dared to do, walked through its every valley, and he has done so with as even-keeled and unflustered way as I have ever known. I have heard him preach both here and abroad, watched him do short-term missions, make difficult shepherd visits, hug and encourage more people than I can remember, and seen his kindness and humor generously displayed. He was not usually the first to speak when elders conversed, but his insights have always been profound. He always did what he did with class and compassion.

I was crestfallen when I recently heard Maynard Woolley tell the eldership that he was ready to step aside as an elder after nearly 30 years of service. Only Harry Denewiler served more years in that role for the Bear Valley church of Christ. He stayed on a couple of years after five great men were appointed to this work in 2016, helping them to acclimate, learn, and grow under his, Ernie Barrett’s,  and Dave Chamberlin’s tutelage. A telling tribute to the breadth of his leadership was the collective, deeply respectful, regret that he was going to resign. Maynard is a man who one appreciates more and more the longer one works alongside him.  His faithful wife, Donna, has both encouraged him and endured, as an elder’s wife for so long, what not many women living have.

Some men impress with refined oratory, outspoken and charismatic ways, and larger-than-life personalities. Others live more understated ives, but their value cannot be overstated. Maynard Woolley is such a man. We will miss his formal oversight, but we look forward to his continued faithful service and loving example. Thank you, Maynard, for what you’ve done and for who you are.  Bear Valley bears the imprint of your bearing.

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2 thoughts on “The Kindest Elder I’ve Ever Known

  1. When Chris and I arrived at Bear Valley to begin our studies at the school we were very nervous!

    First, we had only been Christians for a little over 2 years. We feared that if anyone ever discovered how ignorant we really were they would kick us out of the school.

    Second, the congregation we came from was only about 1/4 the size of B.V. That in itself was rather intimidating.

    Those things being true, you can only imagine how wonderful it was when we were approached by a very kind man who had an easy smile and warm way about himself. He introduced himself to us and asked how we were getting along with school and the city of Denver. He let us know over the next 3 years how genuine his care was for Chris and me.

    Whenever I have been back at B.V. (lectureships, master’s classes, etc.), I never had to hunt for Maynard. He would always be the next person standing there to greet me.

    Bear Valley has been blessed over the years to have such a wonderful legacy of great elders. Maynard certainly shares a place amongst that pantheon. I know he will be missed by his elders. But the students who are wise would do well to seek him out (if he hadn’t already stopped by early in your time at school and asked “how you are getting along at school and in Denver!”).

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