We bring you this great story from John Heck, one of our most beloved and happy residents at Atherton who we recently lost. John delighted us with his stories for many, many years. We offer this to honor and remember his memory, his terrific sense of humor, and his wonderful spirit. John Heck, was an Atherton resident since 1999

It was our second Sunday in a new pastorate, a father proudly introduced his family of five as they exited the service, stating that this was their first visit to the church.  On the spot, he invited us to their home for Sunday dinner…like right now!   Looking to my wife, she smiled and accepted their invitation.  Rounding up our three children, we followed them to their ramshackle farmhouse, to be welcomed by a pair of boisterous dogs.

Entering their home it was apparent, especially to my wife, that no meal preparation was taking place. Our host was ecstatic, and would gladly have spent all afternoon visiting with “the new pastor and wife.”  Somewhere in our conversation, I mentioned that we held a Sunday evening service at 7 pm, to which our host yelled out to his wife, “Hurry it up, girl, the Reverend has church again tonight… early on!” Our hostess excused herself and disappeared into the kitchen to begin preparing Sunday Dinner.

As the afternoon dragged on, our host would occasionally yell into the kitchen to prod the process. Somewhat embarrassed, we did our best to show our hostess our appreciation, and to set her mind to rest. After the first outburst, my wife excused herself to go assist our hostess, whom she found beginning to fry a freshly killed chicken.

At last the meal was ready and the whole tribe was called to the table. Of course, our host asked the pastor to give the blessing, which I did with sincere gratitude and as briefly as I could! Hungrily we passed the food, but as I bit into my chosen chicken leg, the blood gushed out. The chicken was still raw!  What to do?  In desperation, I waited until no one was looking my way, and flipped the raw chicken leg out the open window behind me. Gathering my emotions somewhat, I was again taken by surprise when the dog came running into the dining room with my raw chicken leg in his mouth. I had been “outed” by a hungry dog. My face turned as red as the chicken.

After that, the meal and the visit ended somewhat abruptly. With copious apologies we left; making it back just in time for church; Not surprisingly; we never saw the family with the gift of hospitality and the hungry dog again. I’ll never forget that long, awkward Sunday afternoon and that hysterical Sunday Dinner. Even pastors are human and we all sometimes find ourselves in the middle of chaos; but I still love crispy, well- done, fried chicken!