Johnny Trobaugh and lakeside worship

Published 10:18 pm Wednesday, June 17, 2009

You just can’t think of lakeside worship without thinking Johnny Trobaugh, truly a man of God, who had a vision, if you will, of bringing the lake community together in worship. As lakeside worship begins it’s 41st year, it’s a time to remember Johnny and how his “just do something” attitude inspired a group of people to meet at his home on Lake Mitchell and worship in God’s sanctuary.

Realizing that too many people who would normally be in church were going to spend the summer on the lake and there was not too much the minister could do about it; Trobaugh brought the place of worship to them! A move that Johnny called a “great adventure,” he would have the “River Church” at 8:30 a.m. and get back to town for regular service.

The First United Methodist Church, of which Johnny was serving as pastor, sponsors the ministry. Later, Johnny would smile and say, “I didn’t know which direction to go.” If you knew Johnny, he indeed knew which direction to go!

Oh, we had our criticism. Folks were asking, “Is it true that the people are going to that service half-naked?” Crowds were growing, from boats and drive-ups, they had a place to worship on the lake, and they were coming!So many dedicated people made it happen: Mr. and Mrs. Ervin Dailey would bring all the sound equipment, set it up, take it down and get back to church. Mrs. Sally Speaks, who shared her antique pump organ for music each Sunday. Trudy DeLoach played the organ, and Lamar led the singing until his health failed. And of course the youth! If you knew Johnny, you know he had jobs for the youth—they were and are still a big part of the success of the services.

June 4, 1972, was to be Johnny’s last time to serve in the official capacity as minister of lakeside worship as he took a position with Huntingdon College. Someone tried to soften the pain of our loss a little as they said, “He will have the opportunity to reach 10 times as many people as in Chilton.” Those of us at that service just knew that we had not seen the last of Johnny. His journey would bring him back to again serve First Church as an assistant. We remember that he brought the message many more times to his beloved “River Church.”

Like so many others, I miss my dear friend. He will always be in my heart and thoughts. There are so many things I would like to share with you that I always remember, but one thing, as he dismissed us and gave us his blessings, he would leave us with: “…And if you have to fight, fight fair!”