Pastors and families give city much to appreciate
October was Pastor Appreciation Month, and De Soto has more than ample reason to celebrate the occasion. This last Sunday, the De Soto Baptist Church recognized The Rev. Richard Copeland for 50 years in the ministry. It's been the church and De Soto's good fortune that Copeland has spent 43 of those years in this community.
Copeland is first and foremost the spiritual leader of his congregation. But the testimony of many the last month illustrates that his activities in the schools and willingness to listen to all the troubled who approach with openness and toleration has raised his status to what his longtime friend Karen Wall calls the "community minister."
The status was revealed publicly when earlier this month Mayor Dave Anderson proclaimed Oct. 25 Richard Copeland Day in De Soto, but it was also demonstrated when later at the same meeting — when all who had came to share the surprise announcement with the pastor had left — a man who said he "wasn't a church-goer" applauded the mayor and council's gesture. The pastor was, he said, truly a good man.
Pastor Appreciation Month focuses the attention on the pastor, but it would be more appropriate to say Pastor Family Appreciation Month. That is certainly the case with Richard and Mary Etta Copeland. The couple's shared efforts of the past four decades has much enriched the church, community and school district.
The community has more reason to be appreciative of the activism of ministerial families. You can read elsewhere in this paper of how the community benefits from the energy of Jan Vaughn, the wife of De Soto United Methodist Church minister Jerry Vaughn. That, which is not the only example of involvement we've witnessed from the couple, once again demonstrates the strength the community gains from the faith and commitment from these special families.