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September 23 , 2008

Parson Campbell's Breakthrough


In Bert Johnston's novel of the 1950s, newly-minted minister Eddie Campbell discovers on his first Sunday in Pear Valley that his leading elder is an apostle of racism. Mr. Melon is not subtle about it. He spews out his venom before the whole congregation, and later repeats it as a report to the presbytery. Eddie weighs fight or flight and determines that the mellowing of Mr. Melon will be the major challenge of his ministry at Pear Valley.

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A Collection of poetry.HeroesDo heroes wake up and sayI’m going to be a hero today?Or does bravery slip on like a suitWhen forced down a dangerous route?

Eddie’s own more liberal views soon put him at serious odds with Mr. Melon, but over time he gains a tentative acceptance through his ministry in Melon family crises. When Eddie's long-lost Navy buddy shows up at Easter with his black wife, the trust dissolves and the whole congregation is affronted. The story climaxes with the Christmas Day burning of a nearby black church and ends with a major act of generosity and an unexpected gesture of reconciliation.

This is a story of young love, uncertain faith and unconditional friendship. Bert Johnston writes from a Christian perspective for the entertainment of his readers. He preaches no sermons. Readers of Jan Karon’s novels will be among those who enjoy Parson Campbell’s Breakthrough.

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