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A Lesson in Gratitude, Grace; Redemption a Gift, Not a Reward, Pastor Discovers
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Religion; Presbyterian churches; Personal profiles; Faith; Clergy
Author: Broadway, Bill
Date: Nov 20, 1999
Start Page: B.09
Section: METRO

Nine days after being elected pastor of National Presbyterian Church, the Rev. M. Craig Barnes discovered a lump on his throat. The lump was cancer. The cancer was malignant. And the ambitious young minister faced a hurdle he'd never expected.

"When I accepted this call, I wanted to hit the ground running, and I was terrified the church [now] thought they had a lemon," Barnes recalled this week, apparently free of cancer after six years of treatment and surgery. "I was young. I was 37. And I was coming to a church filled with overachievers."

To win them over, Barnes said, he knew he would have to prove himself and earn their love by making himself "necessary." And that's when God stepped in--not by giving him cancer, because "God doesn't give anyone cancer"--but by helping the young pastor use the experience to learn abut gratitude and grace and pass that lesson on to his congregation.

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