Dr. Paul Fetters spoke that summer during Pacific Annual Conference, the summer after my ninth grade year. He spoke on the family, and it was excellent, even to this budding sophomore.
We used a camp in Watsonville, Calif., outside of San Francisco, which meant a nine-hour drive for those of us from Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Most of our youth group was there for the conference Bible quizzing finals.
But this particular night, I wasn’t paying much attention to Dr. Fetters’ message. Instead, I was flirting with Tammy, a shy but very cute girl. We were sitting beside each other about in the middle of the left-hand section of the tabernacle. It’s all branded deeply in my memory because of what came next.
As I carried on–and it would have been mostly me, because Tammy was so quiet–I apparently disrupted people around me. Suddenly, I felt a big hand clamp onto my shoulder from behind. I looked over my shoulder.
One of our ministers, a big guy, well over six feet tall, had grabbed me from two rows back. He then said to me, in the type of hushed voice Jack Bauer uses, “If you don’t quiet down, I’m going to take you outside and whip you like one of my own kids.”
I quieted down, fast.
I doubt that, in my traumatized state, I actually listened to much of Dr. Fetters’ message. But at the end of the service, my heart still beat in overdrive.
That hand, that large physique, that Voice of Intimidation, belonged to the pastor of our church in Sacramento. A guy named Ron Ramsey.