Bath Minister’s ordination “must go on”.

On Saturday, February 21st, when almost every person for miles around was watching snow piling up quickly and hearing about events cancelled everywhere, five hardy Bath and Highland souls set out through the heavy snow for an appointment that was not to be missed. Pam and Billy Webb, Donald McCaig, and Martha and Berkley Glenn headed to Goshen for the ordination of their pastor, Reverend Punker Robertson to the Presbyterian Church. Punker and her husband Robbie, and more friends and family piled into every available four-wheel drive vehicle and drove there from Fairfield. The night before the ceremony the location had been changed from Williamsville to Goshen because travel there might not be as risky. The day was to celebrate and make official many years of thought and study for Punker.

“For twenty years Robbie and I worked for Young Life, and while I was working as a nurse, and teacher up in Saranac Lake, and then as we transferred here to Virginia to help build and complete the Rockbridge Alum Springs Camp; it was really in that process of working with kids, and working with the Young Life camping ministry for many years that the desire to become a full-time pastor was really a call from God in my heart. That was truly a beginning of really thinking of going on further into education to finish the M. Div. degree, and to become a full time pastor. So, those twenty years were very important in this whole process which culminated in the ordination.”

Punker was a candidate for ordination when she completed her Masters of Divinity degree from Eastern Mennonite University in 2013. Several years before that, she had started serving in a part-time position as minister of Williamsville Church and Westminister Chapel, both part of Shenandoah Presbytery.

“Their pastor had retired, and they were in need of ‘a shepherd for the flock’, and that’s why it all started, and happened”.

On that very snowy Saturday morning, there were people from both Bath churches and Goshen too, and those from much farther away who did not want to miss this special day.

“The presiding ministers came over from the Millboro area.”

Among many family members, the Robertson’s son and daughter-in-law were also there.

“Our son Scott is just deployed on this last Monday for a nine-month cruise around the world with the United States Navy. His ship, USS Normandy deployed with a squadron out of Norfolk. And therefore, that was the only opportunity he had to come and be present before preparing for the deployment. So, for me personally that was a real important thing to have him there, being our son and having been with us through the whole journey of becoming a pastor.”

Many of us may remember the February snow as one that dumped up to 16 inches in some areas in less than 24 hours, and the cold days that followed when it didn’t melt. But the Robertson family and three small churches will cherish it for another reason too.

“A lot of things had to line up at the right time. And God sent this wonderful snowstorm. He knows how much I love snow BUT . . . it was rather remarkable. It was sort of like he was smiling, and saying, it’s going to happen, don’t worry.”

In the end, despite the weather, about forty churchgoers braved the storm, and returned home safely afterwards.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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