A day to honor our fathers slowly spread across our nation during the early 1900s. Realizing that a special date to honor our fathers should be set aside, like Mother’s Day, individuals and churches became involved.
In 1916 President Wilson celebrated the day by deploying a telegraph signal that unfurled a flag in Spokane when a button was pressed in Washington D.C. A few years later, in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended state governments observe Father’s Day. In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation that made Father’s Day a federal holiday.
Today, it is estimated that America has over 70 million fathers. Economists estimate that Americans purchase items totaling or spend over $1 billion annually on this holiday.
Several Kentucky Baptists were asked to reflect on the role their father had in their life. Some shared advice to help young fathers today.
Donnie Fox, president of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Pikeville:
“My father, Claude Fox, set an example as what a Christian dad should be. As a young boy, when I got up in the morning, I would see my father reading the Bible. This made an impression on me and I realized how much my father depended on God to guide him as a parent.
Dad prayed for me … that I would make the right decisions in my career and life. Before I became president of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, I was in the ministry—a preacher. Dad went to heaven in 1987 and his words of wisdom I received growing up continue to guide me today.
“My advice to young fathers is that teaching is so important. Father must ‘show’ instead of ‘tell,’ and be that godly example as a leader of our homes. Our culture is so busy today and families are involved in so many activities. Dads must be a role model for their children.”
Wyman Copass, retired Kentucky Baptist pastor, member of First Baptist Church, Bowling Green:
“My father was C. H. Copass, and he lived his entire life on a farm near Gamaliel. He was the father of 10 boys, of which I was the youngest and the only one still living. My dad was a deeply committed Christian and never missed a church service. If someone came to our house at church time, they were told to pack up and to go with us, because we were going to church.
“As a youngster, we went to church in a mule-drawn wagon. Dad led the music in our church where he served as a deacon. He taught Singing Schools by shaped notes. This was a tremendous influence in my life and because of this, I would later learn to play the piano and minor in music in college. The preachers were always welcome at our house to eat. These preachers helped to shape my decision to accept the call into ministry.
“A favorite memory is of Dad and Mom reading the Bible and praying every night before going to bed. I will always be grateful for the tremendous influence my father had on my life.”
Joy Bolton, executive-director, Kentucky WMU, Louisville:
“My father, Richard Luebbert, was a great influence on me. He was a student of the Bible and read the Bible through in a different translation each year. I have many of his Bibles and reference materials which I use in my own study now.
“My dad could repair most things around the house and I learned to use tools from him. Dad knew how to plan trips and people loved to travel with him. I have taken mission teams around the world and seek to emulate the way he always took care of those in his charge. He was a good speaker and from him I learned how to be a public speaker.
“Dad loved WMU and was very proud of the work I do. Most importantly, he always told me that he was proud. When I became executive director of Kentucky WMU, dad would joke that I used to be Richard Luebbert’s daughter, but that now he was Joy Bolton’s father. He was a blessing and I am proud to be his daughter.
“In my father’s latter years, he completed a lifelong project of writing a unified version of the four gospels. It was published in 2011 under the title, ‘Jesus for the 21st Century.’ I was his first editor and helped prepare the manuscript for publication. When I began work on the manuscript, I realized what a remarkable thing he had done. His years of Bible study are evident in this work.
“My dad died in March 2015. I still find myself doing things the way he would do them.”
Carolyn Tomlin writes for the Christian magazine and newspaper market. She teaches the Boot Camp for Christian Writers