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THE STORY OF THE BRAENDLEIN MEMORIAL GIFT To The Silverdale United Methodist Church

by Rev. Larry Eddings on September 8, 2021

THE STORY OF THE BRAENDLEIN MEMORIAL GIFT

To The Silverdale United Methodist Church

 

Shortly after my arrival as the newly appointed pastor of the Silverdale United Methodist Church, on July 1, 1970, I was seated in my office with the church secretary, Edith Arnold.  We shared the same small office, which is now the Chapel, located at the West, or front, entrance of the church facilities.

The office phone rang.  Edith answered and said that the call was for me.  The voice at the other end introduced himself as a Mr. Doll. 

He asked, “Pastor, does your church receive money given in memory of someone.” 

I replied, “Yes, we do.” 

He said, “My wife and I would like to give some money as a memorial for her parents, Christian and Elizabeth Braendlein, who taught in the Sunday School there many years ago.” 

I thanked him for his thoughtfulness and said that he could send a check to the church, and it would be applied to the purpose for which they designated it.

He said, “Pastor, I think I would rather have you come and pick it up personally, and” [after a slight pause, he said] “you might want to bring a deputy with you for security purposes.”

I began to wonder if perhaps someone in the church was joking with their newly appointed pastor, but after further conversation, I was convinced that Mr. Doll - whoever he was, was serious about his offer.  He said, “We would like to make a $30,000 contribution to the memorial fund in their memory.

I shared the conversation with Edith, who had heard my part of the conversation and told her the amount.  She did not know anyone by that name.  We were both somewhat overwhelmed by the Doll’s generous offer.

At the appointed time upon which the Dolls and I had agreed, I went into Bremerton to the address he had given me.  As I remember, their modest home was located in a cul-de-sac in West Bremerton.

As I entered their home, I was warmly greeted by this older couple, perhaps in their sixties or seventies. They may have been younger, or older.  I was in my late thirties at the time.  I introduced myself.  They introduced themselves as Chauncy and Martha Doll. They invited me to come inside and sit down in a comfortable chair.  After a few minutes of casual conversation about this and that, Chauncey excused himself and went into another room.  Soon he came back carrying a box that looked like those that were used in those days when a store sells a suit or dress and folds it in the box for the customer.  It was about 2’wide x 3’ long x 6” high.

 

 

Mr. Doll placed the box in my lap.  He then carefully lifted the lid back, revealing a box full of money – many piles of neatly stacked and tied with rubber bands, $20s, $10s, $5s, $50s and $100s.  I think I must have had a shocked look on my face as I stared at more money than I have ever seen in my lifetime.

He asked, “Shall I get some smelling salts?’

I sat there somewhat dumbfounded trying to think of something appropriate to say - or even to think of anything to say.  He got a large brown paper bag into which he transferred the money for me to take back with me to the church.

Then he said, ‘Oh, by the way, after I called you and told you how much we wanted to give, we decided that we had better keep out $5,000 just in case we have an emergency, or some other need for it.  Therefore, we are giving you $25,000 for the memorial.”

At their request I wrote them out a receipt, with a copy for the church, for that amount.  After more conversation about their generosity, I left these two gracious people and we all had big smiles on our faces.

When I got into my car, it suddenly occurred to me why he suggested that I have a security escort come with me.  Here I am with $25,000 in a large brown paper bag, parked in a cul-de-sac with only one exit in a part of Bremerton with which I was totally unfamiliar at the time.  I immediately locked my car doors, carefully turned around and exited out of the cul-de-sac.  I drove very carefully the eight or ten miles back to the church wondering what would happen if I were stopped by a policeman and was asked about the contents of the paper bag in the seat beside me? 

Arriving back at the office, Edith inquired about the visit and the contents of the bag. I immediately remembered that I had told her about the original amount and now I’m returning with $5,000 less.  Would she think that I’m keeping some out for myself?  The mind plays strange games sometimes.  I showed her a copy of the receipt to allay both our concerns.

At the very next Official Board meeting, I presented the money to the church treasurer and told the story of the Doll’s generous gift to the memorial fund.  They all spoke praises to God for the Doll couple and their desire to remember her parents who had taught in the Sunday School years ago.  They had not mentioned when they taught, so none could remember their names. Everyone concluded that it might have been when the church building was originally located in Old Silverdale.

One of the Board members spoke up and said, “We need to spend time praying about how this money can be used as an appropriate memorial to this family.  How about we take some months or even a year to decide?”  It was agreed that we would do that very thing.

Sometime later at another Board Meeting, I’m not sure how long, someone said, ‘Since the memorial is given for loved ones who taught in Sunday School, they were obviously interested in educating children and youth. Let’s tithe or give 10% of this amount to scholarships for some of our youth who are entering college.” 

That’s what was decided.  Twenty-Five Hundred Dollars was set aside to be used for scholarships for our youth attending college, most of whom attended Olympic College in Bremerton.

After additional time, prayer and discussion, the decision was made for the use of the remaining $22,500.  The old parsonage that sat near the church – in the middle of what is now Ridgetop Blvd, was a former small, cramped, four room home with a small building behind it once used as a beauty shop.  It was old and in very bad repair. The old beauty shop was used for the Pastor’s children’s bedroom.

The decision was then made to raise additional funds within the church membership, add to the Braendlein Memorial gift, and build a new parsonage on the back side of the church’s five-acre piece of land.  This project gained approval of the church body, and so the Braendlein Memorial Parsonage was constructed in 1972-73. 

The Parsonage was dedicated in 1973 and remained a very comfortable home for the Eddings’ family until God called my wife and me into a new ministry beyond the local church in 1983. It became not only our comfortable home, but its spacious rooms provided additionally needed space for Sunday School classes. It truly served a double purpose: a home for the minister and his family and as an education wing for the church

Now, some thirty-eight years later, that building serves as a Montessori school, training and educating the minds of young children – fulfilling the very purpose for which Mr. & Mrs. Doll gave the memorial for their parents in the first place.

We continue to give praise to God for Chauncey and Martha Braendlein Doll and their generous gift of love in memory of faithful parents who demonstrated the love of Jesus to young and old alike.

Pastor Larry Eddings – Serving Silverdale UMC, 1970-1983

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