Sunday, May 18, 2014

Senior Couple Spotlight: Elder and Sister Champion

Elder and Sister Champion

The Champions say that this is their Best Possible Picture -
"with these wonderful young missionari
es in the background!"
Elder Herbert and Sister Linda Champion are representative of the exceptional, locally-called, Church Service (CS) Missionaries who do so very much for branches and wards that need augmentation.  In much the same way that Member and Leadership Support (MLS) missionaries are called, CS Missionaries like the Champions provide their years of Church and professional experience to members and local Church leaders.  Unlike MLS missionaries, however, they remain at home – for an infinite variety of reasons ranging from health issues to family matters – rather than serving in distant locations.

Elder and Sister Champion are members of the Northport Ward, Bessemer Alabama Stake (Northport is the superior city to its better known neighbor, Tuscaloosa).  Both converts to the Church, the Champions are also both US Navy veterans, and both worked in the field of cryptology.  Elder Champion mixed both land as well as sea duties over the course of his 20-plus year career; Sister Champion spent all of her time on land-based projects.  Upon his retirement, Elder Champion used the GI Bill to finish his collegiate preparation for a second career in accounting, and worked for the Veterans Administration before retiring again.   They’d returned after their military service to Sister Champion’s hometown of Northport; to Elder Champion, a “Navy brat” raised all around the world, it was clearly his home too.

Both Elder and Sister Champion had long awaited the opportunity to serve a full-time mission, yet when the opportunity came, the need to remain close to their health care provider prevented them from serving at a distant location.  Offered the opportunity for a CS Mission by their Stake President, they jumped at the chance and have served for the past 18 months in the small Demopolis Branch in the extreme southwestern corner of the Mission.  As the Southern phrase goes: “They do it all, y’all.”  They assist in locating and teaching those who may be less-active, they teach Gospel Principles, Elder Champion serves as the Branch Clerk and she is a Relief Society instructor.  (For visitors to the Christmas-time blog photography, you’ll recognize Elder Champion also leading the “Elvis Presley look-a-like singing troupe” that brought down the house with their version o f “White Christmas.”  Especially, the patented Elvis shaking leg – stopping short however of any inappropriate hip gyrations.)  
Elder Champion performs Elvis!

Most fulfilling, however, has been their work in the Book of Mormon Reading program, which has a fundamental purpose of reducing illiteracy in the area, but also to enhance an appreciation of the Book of Mormon.  Although not specifically designed to foster missionary work itself, the Champions have seen two baptisms since the beginning of January 2014 and another three – and possibly four – new converts are in the wings as they attend the literacy program.

Since they remain at home and are Missionaries on a (so-called) part-time basis, they remain in their own home, near their one child who lives in Alabama; the child in Arizona would be far away almost wherever they served.  At the same time, however, their service is not solely within the Demopolis Branch boundaries, since they also find time to volunteer in local community-service activities as well.

What will they do now?  They’ll return to their usual approach to Church service in the Northport Ward and Bessemer Stake where he has served previously as Stake Sunday School, High Councilor, High Priests Group Leader, Ward Mission Leader, Executive Secretary among others; Sister Champion probably won’t be called as the Relief Society President again, although Compassionate Service and Activities Committee work has occupied much of her Church life. 

Do they recommend a CS Mission?  Absolutely!!  It’s one of the greatest things they’ve ever done!!  Would they serve a Full-time mission elsewhere if circumstances permit?  Certainly.  But, the important thing is that The Lord knows who needs what from whom – and the Champions have certainly given their all to this call.

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