One Life to Live – The Soap Opera Life of Steve Bullmer, New Methodist Minister in Crystal Lake

I suggested yesterday that the Republican National Convention is reminding me of a soap opera.

Whether the GOP “show” will gain the popularity of the TV soaps is a question yet to be answered, but you will remember that my thinking about soap operas reminded me of the soap opera-themed sermons of our First United Methodist Church’s new minister Steve Bullmer.

The second week after his reassignment from the First United Methodist Church of Marengo, Bullmer’s theme was “One Life to Live.”

He talked about his twenty-something years.

First, how he decided to become a minister. When he went to college, he thought he wanted to be a lawyer and a politician. (“You can insert your favorite lawyer joke here,“ he said.)

But three weeks of political science classes cured him of that. In his words:

“At Eastern Illinois University, Wesley UMC is on the edge of the EIU campus. So one evening after dinner I walked over to the church, found the doors open (though no one seemed to be in the building), went into the sanctuary, sat down on the steps leading up to the altar, and said to no one in particular,

“‘What do I do now?’

“And a voice in my head—it was not my voice—said,

“‘Why don’t you be a minister?’

“I said,

“‘That’s the craziest idea I’ve ever heard!’

“And the voice said,

“‘Try it, you’ll like it.’

“I said,

“‘Okay, I’ll try it; but if I don’t like it I want permission to get out.’

“(I wasn’t going to lock myself into another life direction that falls apart in three weeks.) “And the voice said,


“So I got up, walked back to my dorm and said to my roommate,

“‘Uh, I guess I’m going to be a minister.’

“And that’s how God called me into ministry.”

Still, Bullmer had self-esteem problems.

“In the summer between high school and college I met a girl who said she loved me. And it was great … for a while … but before the summer was over I knew the relationship wasn’t working, and I tried to break it off, but she begged me to stay.

“Then my emotional insecurities got the better of me. I thought to myself,

‘Yeah, this isn’t working … but what if no one else ever says, “I love you”? If I end this relationship, I will be unloved and unlovable for the rest of my life! And isn’t a bad relationship better than no relationship at all? So I’ll stick with her until someone better comes along.

‘But no one came along … which just convinced me I really was unlovable and this was my one and only shot at love. So I married her, got my bachelor’s degree, and headed off to seminary. Remember this story, because next week I’ll tell you how this really bad decision ruined my life, totally screwed up my children’s lives, and only the redeeming power of Jesus Christ could fix the mess I created.’”

“General Hospital” tomorrow.

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The photo is of Steve Bullmer, senior minister of the First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake.

Services at the First United Methodist Church (at the corner of West Crystal Lake Avenue and Dole, both of which intersect with Route 14 at a stop light) are 5 PM on Saturday and 8 AM, 9:30 AM and 11 AM. The 9:30 service is the most traditional. The 11 o’clock one is the most contemporary.

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