What Makes Ronnie Roll: The Right Kind Of Flexibility

By:Ali Elizabeth Turner

As is often the case, Mayor Ronnie came into his office still mulling over the words of the previous day’s sermon; and we started the first part of our time together with him having the chance to take “each one, teach one” out for a spin. The sermon had been about being vulnerable and flexible in the right way, standing firm on principles and values but not becoming a hardened Pharisee. Another way of saying it comes from the old hymn that says, “Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own Way/ Thou art the Potter, I am the clay/ Mould me and make me after Thy will/ While I am waiting, yielded and still.” “It’s about being flexible in the right way,” he said, and I added, “It’s not easy, especially as we age.” We talked about the history of revival, that churches can be left out of making history and eventually dying because of not being “flexible in the right way.”

The mayor showed me a wonderful video that had been produced by the Athens City Schools Foundation to welcome back teachers and students. Once again I was so grateful to be an Athenian — the video was started by a student who actually prayed for the students and the teachers. I know that would not be allowed in a whole lot of towns, and her sincerity packed a punch. The various kids featured on the video talked about coming together and building a vibrant school community in the time of COVID; and the presentation ended with a spoof. It showed Mayor Marks giving a welcoming speech as well, while Holly Hollman, Annette Barnes Threet, and Amy Gold played the part of inattentive and mischievous students acting up behind him. It was just the right touch of humor at a time when we could use a good dose of it, and seeing as Mayor Marks spent time in the classroom as a high school science teacher, I am sure none of their antics seemed unfamiliar.

Various churches have adopted different schools, and this weekend had outdoor prayer meetings where they physically encircled the school building, six feet apart, and then encircled the school with prayer. Kelly’s Studio of Dance had an outdoor prayer meeting for their students, as well as all students and teachers. “We need to pray for our teachers, students, and parents more than ever,” the mayor said again. He added, “I know we talked about this last time, but we still need to; it’s that important.” We discussed Elkmont High School being closed and having to go online, and were thankful that they have learned how to be “flexible in the right way.”

We finished up our time talking about the need for people to vote on August 25. Of course, every candidate that is running for Mayor of Athens or for City Council wants to be the one that is elected; otherwise they wouldn’t be running. And, of course, everyone who is running for a position feels that they are the best choice, or again, they wouldn’t be running. “I want people to study the issues, and study the candidates, and get out and vote on Tuesday,” the mayor said. “Amen,” I agreed. Then we prayed, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner