A Story of Gratitude

Moment for Gratitude FPC 3-17-19

Susan Leithauser sharing story of Beth Jenkins


Who has used the elevator in our church? Who knew people that were only able to worship in the chapel downstairs?  The chapel that is now our coat room? Allow me to have a church building history review. Our church at one time was two buildings, divided by an alley where Heritage Hall is and there was no elevator.I am Susan Stoner Leithauser.  I've been a member here for 17 years or so and attended church when I was a Denison student in the late 80s. I serve on the Commitment and Beyond Committee and the Annual Stewardship Committee, and am grateful for the leadership, service, and gifts at First Presbyterian. Amazing work happened in 2018. Since this is a moment for gratitude, I must say "thank you"!  Our work continues by the way- the ‘Beyond’ means we keep going, keep talking and that is why I am here!

Many of you know I work at Denison in the Advancement Office - some would call me a professional fundraiser. My focus at Denison is Family Philanthropy. Lately, it has been rewarding to share what I am learning at work with our church. The foundation of this work is: I help people feel good about making a difference.  I also enjoy connecting with people in the community and with one another.  In particular, I am grateful to work with people that like to give, and not just money: but time, perspective and connections. This is what philanthropy is and it does tie to church and faith, as God gives to us and we’re called to share and it feels good to share.

During a recent Beyond Committee meeting, I stated how I want to make sure everyone knows Beth Jenkins' name, as she exemplifies what the Commitment Initiative really is.   A key person involved with financials at First Pres/FPC said she didn't know who Beth Jenkins was.  I was surprised.

So here I am- I really want you all to know who Beth Jenkins was to FPC and the impact she had.

I don't have time to tell the full story but here is a quick summary: Beth had no children, never married, was a sweet older member of the community and this church. I was introduced to her by Shirley Hale, a current FPC member, and our children's Granville Grandma. Shirley was the house mother/director at my sorority while I was at Denison.  Shirley determined I'd be a fit as an adopted granddaughter for Beth. She knew I went to church (I went once that 1st year, I sang in the Concert Choir and I was a Pi Phi). What a blessing she was in my life.  Beth and I hit it off and enjoyed tea times, toast and coffee at the Aladdin and sitting together in worship. Beth grew up a Quaker in Indiana and shared her faith, she simply believed: Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so. She kept it simple. She was a dear friend to many and introduced us to one another around the table. She cared for shut-ins and others needing holy hospitality. She was very active with parish care and I bet we've all tasted her cookies as her recipes are cherished.  She always felt for those who could not make it up the stairs to worship.

Beth saved her pennies and was frugal. She supported the church with time and treasure and looked forward to making a gift that could make a difference. She included FPC in her estate plans with the designation that it be used to install an elevator at our church. There is a plaque on the 1st  floor next to the elevator- telling the story of her gift.

Beth Jenkins and her story is just one example in the life of our church.  I'm grateful to not only know her story but be part of it. Her story has a lesson-love Jesus and share that love in ways that make you happy. I am grateful that I was introduced to Beth by Shirley and was given the gift of friendships and tea times! I am grateful for Beth's commitment to the church and that elevator.  I've needed it many times and know others do as well. I'm going to put Beth's picture up by her plaque to help tell her story and make sure we all know Beth Jenkin's name and one of the impacts she had on FPC.  Thank you God for giving us Beth, she was a blessing.