For the month of October, we are highlighting the more “senior” members of our community at Bethany, many in their tenth decade. Some may not worship regularly with us but all continue to be rich examples of faithful lives. They were invited to share a favorite verse, a story from their lives where they experienced God, or a piece of encouragement.
Take a moment to read their words and be encouraged by the wisdom and grace in our church family.
“When I was young I thought that I knew best…
As I grew older, I learned that there was more to know.”Carol Gwenneth Brand
At a young age, Carol remembers going to the basement of her church and seeing a picture with her name on it. “I belong here!” she immediately thought. That Congregational Church (later Steilacoom Community Church) proved to be Carol’s home for many years to come.
When the war was on in 1944, Carol worked at the Todd Pacific Shipyards in Tacoma. She spent her days on her bicycle delivering important papers to and fro.
To this day, Carol vividly remembers as an 18 year old, her mother falling ill. After a 3:00-11:00 shift, Carol got a ride to the hospital, and ran upstairs to her mother’s room expecting to find her recovering. Instead she found an empty and made up bed. Her older sister, Gertrude, was the deliverer of the sorrowful news that their dear mother had passed away. Gert did not want her younger sister to be alone when she found out. The entire family was devastated.
Within a few days, she visited her church, sitting in silence in the back pew. Her pastor found her, and “It was great having him there, because he was our pastor!” The pastor, Herbert West, was at the church for 19 years, for all of Carol’s growing up years. After her mother passed away, her father over the family to Bellingham. To Carol’s amazement, this same pastor, “hunted to find me, coming on his own to my home at the end of a dead end street. He came to visit and had good things to say about my mother.”
This reminded Carol of her favorite verses, “In all thy ways acknowledge him and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:6) She also loves Psalm 121, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help.” Another, Psalm 100, she recited with such tenderhearted faith that we asked her to recite it again so it could be recorded. You can hear her on this link. “Make a joyful noise to the Lord…for the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting and His Truth endures for all generations.”
Throughout Carol’s life her faith remained “steadily,” she said. “I never lost it. I never thought, ‘Well, Jesus. Is He real?'” At bedtime, Carol prays the Lord’s Prayer, and prays for family, for the church, and for neighbors, “that they will know God and love Him. Sometimes I think they know Him better than I do.”
When asked for an important lesson that she had learned, Carol said, “When I was young I thought that I knew best, but I don’t want to put it that way. As I grew older, I learned that there was more to know.”
Carol named her entire family, four generations. At age 21, she married her “wonderful husband, Sterling” whose mother had introduced them. They shared many joyous seasons of life together until Sterling passed away in 1991 at age 65.
Her twin brother’s name is Harold Kenneth and her full name is Carol Gwenneth. She passed the name on to her daughter, our own Gwenneth Kunde.
To hear a recording of Carol reciting Psalm 100, please click on this link.
Coordinated by Mary Van Eaton, Photos by April Huizenga, Interviews by Kristy Champagne.