Remember Hee-Haw? It’s OK if you don’t. I’m not too proud to tell you that Hee-Haw was a Saturday night television staple in my house growing up. Get a bath. Eat TV dinners. Watch Hee-Haw. Every Saturday night. That’s how we rolled at 1814 Walker Avenue.

For those of you who either genuinely don’t know—or are pretending not to know—about Hee-Haw, I’ll explain it as briefly as I can. Hee-Haw was a country music variety show with lots of silly characters, recurring gags, and corny jokes. One of the regular skits featured comedian Junior Samples playing a used car salesman doing commercials for whatever lemon he had on the lot that week. At the end of every sketch, Junior would flip over a cardboard sign with a phone number on it and urge folks to call him at BR-549. That’s BR-549. Thirty-some years later, I still haven’t forgotten that number: BR-549.

That said, then, here’s another phone number to memorize: 704.366.4030×147. Let’s go over that again: 704.366.4030×147.

Beginning June 1, this will be Providence’s pastoral care emergency number. If you call this number on a weekend (from Friday at 3:00pm until Monday at 9:00am), your call will be automatically forwarded to the staff minister on call for that weekend. If you call this number after the church offices are closed during the week, your call will be automatically forwarded to the deacon of the week. This process will replace our previous practice of calling on-call ministers directly on their cell phones or leaving voicemail messages for the deacon of week. And what’s the number to call? 704.366.4030×147.

This change is one of the ways our interim director for pastoral care, Martha Haigler, is trying to streamline the way we provide care for Providence people in crisis. Thanks to Rocky Cannon, Richard Landers, Summer Sneed, and Jim Tucker’s work on our phone lines, there will be just one number for you to keep up with starting the first of June: 704.366.4030×147.

When you dial 704.366.4030×147, you will immediately be asked if you are calling with a pastoral care emergency (eg., a death, hospitalization, illness, etc.). If the answer is yes, then you’ll be asked to dial extension 147. From there, as I mentioned above, your call will be automatically forwarded to the responsible staff member or deacon. That’s it. The entire process. Two steps. And that number, one more time, is: 704.366.4030×147.

Admittedly, this being a new process, there may indeed be a learning curve. We may have kinks to work out. We’ll need you to tell Martha about these kinks because, chances are, you’ll be the ones to discover them before we do. Please tell Martha (nicely) if you run into a problem so she can work on getting it fixed.

I’m grateful both for creative ideas and for capable staff members who know how to take those ideas and put them into practice. I’m confident that this streamlined approach to pastoral care emergencies will result in better, more timely, and effective ministry. What’s that number again? 704.366.4030×147. May the peace of Christ be with you!