My Mentor in the Christian Life

Don Hutchinson 2For twenty years I’ve been mentored in the Christian life by Don Hutchinson.  During this time I’ve had the great privilege of being Don’s pastor.

Don is a gentle soul who has been a prophetic voice for the full inclusion of our gay sisters and brothers into the life of the church and as full citizens in society.

Don and his life partner Lee Swantek worked to bring down walls of division and prejudice within the church and wider community.  Don and Lee were the ‘go to guys’ within the congregation and wider community when anyone had a need.  They regularly volunteered to drive people to medical appointments in Salem and Portland.  Through their generosity of spirit they showed us what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

 Don and Lee were committed spouses for 42 years until Lee’s death from cancer several years ago.  The depth of their love was evident during Lee’s long illness.  When Lee died, his funeral was held at First Baptist McMinnville, Oregon and it was my honor to officiate.  Don was surrounded in love by the congregation.  Because Don and Lee taught us well, we their church were not closeted in our grief. We were able to fully honor Lee and Don as a couple, as one of our own.

Said Don:  “Our goal was to wear down people with kindness. To wear down people’s resistance and fear.  To show that we are simply normal people like everyone else with the same needs and dreams as anyone else.  God made each of us the way we are, some of us are gay and some are straight.  Each one of us is perfect.”

Since Lee’s passing, Don who is nearing 80,  continues his gentle and persistent witness.   He understands that by helping to take down walls, he is freeing us all.

To Don, I say:  “Thanks to you and Lee for teaching me how to be a better pastor and follower of Jesus.  Thank you for expanding the hearts and minds of so many of us at First Baptist and in the wider community.  The good you and Lee have done will live on in each life you have touched.”

For Don and Lee, I echo the words of scripture:  ‘Well done good and faithful servants, well done.’

8 thoughts on “My Mentor in the Christian Life

  1. Amanda

    I met a young man named Henry a couple of weeks ago while at a gathering in Portland. In talking with him we found that we had both gone to FBC. He spoke so highly of Don and Lee. He told me that they made him feel loved and accepted just as he was and changed his life in the most positive way.

  2. Goodness Kent, how could I do anything but agree profoundly with these generous comments about two generous souls? We had Don to our home numerous times for meals and conversation and I can safely say I’ve known few with a more solid Christian witness than he. And, he’s gay. Well, how ’bout that?

      1. Are you kidding me?! This man possesses a kindness of heart, a generosity of spirit and beauty of character I’ve seldom seen anywhere. The honor is ours just knowing this saint of God. Thanks for introducing us and thanks for giving voice to his life!

  3. Thank you, Kent, for this posting. Don is such a wonderful man. He has been very involved with our Sew ‘n’ Sews, a quilt-making group, making quilts for veterans, elderly and children who are victims of abuse.I was not fortunate enough to know Lee, but I am blessed to see how much Don loved him. FBC is a church home that exemplifies the good works of Jesus and I’m so happy to be a part of that.

  4. Reblogged this on Green Preacher and commented:

    Don Hutchinson passed into God’s eternal love yesterday. As I write this I am now serving a church in Massachusetts. I along with countless others will always be grateful for Don’s loving witness. He loved Jesus, walked in the way of Jesus and like Jesus expanded our hearts and minds by his gentle, courageous and loving example. Thank you Don. Say hello to Lee for us in heaven. ~ Kent Harrop

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