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37 Years and a Dare

When you ask, “Why do you do such and such this way?”, how often do you get the response, “Well that’s the way we’ve always done it.” How long do you keep doing it the way it’s always been done? In Rockford, the answer is 37. 37 years. For 37 years we did our Firemen’s Breakfast essentially the same way. This year we dared to change it!

The Rockford congregation’s ties with the North Park Fire Department go back many years. In the late 1970s a baptismal service was planned but when it came time to fill the font, the pump wouldn’t work. Since a person can’t be baptized in an empty font, Jack Ehlenfeld called the local fire department and they gladly came and filled the font for us. North Park was predominately a volunteer fire department located a few blocks from the church and some of our members had family in the department. Their willingness to help was instrumental in Jack’s decision to volunteer to be the chaplain for the fire department which he did for 20 years, until his death in 1996.

In 1980, Jack suggested the congregation serve breakfast to show our appreciation to the firefighters who willingly volunteer their services for the community. We fed them biscuits and gravy, sausage, and scrambled eggs along with coffee, juice, and milk. Following breakfast, they shared a little time with the kids (and adults) who wanted to see the trucks and to get their picture taken. The firefighters would then go on their way while we cleaned up and then had our own breakfast before the usual worship service.