Eric Parsons by the doors of Freshwater (N.L.) United, which he had recently refinished, in July 2019. (Photo: Denise Flint)
Eric Parsons by the doors of Freshwater (N.L.) United, which he had recently refinished, in July 2019. (Photo: Denise Flint)

Topics: UCC in Focus | Society

Meet Freshwater United’s 90-year-old ‘jack-of-all-trades’

Eric Parsons cares for the church building, which is nearly as old as he is

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Eric Parsons’ father was one of many volunteers who built Freshwater (N.L.) United 87 years ago.

The younger Parsons has been a member of the church ever since, and now, at 90, the retired miner is following in his father’s footsteps by caring for the old church building.

On pitching in: I suppose I’m a sort of craftsman, although I never went to any trade school. I’m not educated; I haven’t got a certificate. I’m a jack-of-all-trades, I suppose.

On what he’s done for the church so far: I put a pump system in the basement. The choir used to be in the choir loft, but then they moved to sit down in the congregation — so I made some changes in the seats. We also had no wheelchair spots, so I cut off two seats from a pew and made a ramp. I had to build a new wheel for the bell. The doors were a mess, too. They were rotted, and the paint was there for 87 years. I sanded and restained them and rebuilt them with new hardware and hinges.

On getting older: You get to feel old when you get to 90. It hasn’t hit me real hard. I’m still on the go and doing things. My short-term memory is failing me, but I remember verses and poems from 70 or 80 years ago. I’m going to recite one at the church coffee house next week. I always do readings at the coffee house, the third Friday of every month. I did the first one when I was eight or nine years old.

On his secret to a long life: I use cannabis oil. I take it regularly every day. Last thing every night before I go to bed is my marijuana, a glass of scotch and some goat cheese. I’ve been doing that for a long time.

This story first appeared in Broadview’s November 2019 issue with the title “Jack of all trades.”

Broadview is an award-winning progressive Christian magazine, featuring stories about spirituality, justice and ethical living. For more of our content, subscribe to the magazine today.

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  • says:

    This is the person (man or woman) every church needs to have and cherish. I'm sure he'll be missed when God calls him home.