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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ron Stair comes to First Christian Church in Monett as new pastor

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ron Stair, new pastor at First Christian Church in Monett, in the church sancturary.
"The long and winding road" is more than a lyric in a Beatles' song to Ron Stair, the new pastor at the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Installed on March 15, Stair gave his first sermon at the church this week. His journey to the pulpit starts a second career, one he has been moving toward for the last 15 years.

Stair and his wife Jo come to Monett from Olathe, Kansas. A graduate of the University of Kansas in 1973, Stair got an advanced degree in business and practically stumbled into a career in computer programming. He was hired to computerize the records of an Olathe law firm, in the days before personal computers or even operating systems.

Gulf Oil hired Stair to program for them on the dominant computer language of the time, and when Gulf opened an information system in 1982, Gulf put Stair in charge. When Chevron bought out Gulf, Stair took a buy-out package, moved back to Olathe from Houston, Texas, and took a job with Yellow Freight. He provided support for technical audits, learned new computer languages, and was in charge of security on mainframes.

In 1994, having started a family and moving along comfortably in his career, Stair met evangelist Rhodes Thompson. Thompson spent time at Stair's church for a month while engaged in a project in Kansas City. One night when Stair and his wife attended, Thompson talked at a group meeting one night about personal calling.

"We were so impressed we talked about what we were called to do until 2 a.m.," Stair said. Then he had a vivid dream about traveling a long, winding road to get to a prison, where it seemed it was his task to set people free.

This was an awakening moment for Stair. He became more active in his church, and in 2002 participated in a Camino, a multi-denominational spiritual experience centered on weekend retreats. Stair gave one of the talks by laymen during the weekend, for which he received unexpected compliments.

"I knew God was talking when one man said, 'I was a prisoner, and you set me free," Stair recalled, immediately the 1994 dream. At that point, Stair committed to starting classes at seminary, which he would take part-time for the next six years. He was ordained in August 2008.

In the meantime, Stair's family went through a number of struggles, many relating to his bi-polar daughter. "God gave me these experiences know I would not feel comfortable about [ministering to people about] their bad times unless I'd experiences some of that myself," he said.

The road to Monett took shape three months before Stair graduated from seminary, when he was laid off from his job at Yellow Freight. After graduating, he and his wife took a trip to the Holy Land to get ready for their new life in the ministry. While there, e-mail came from Disciples of Christ Area Minister Mike Weinman, wherein Weinman said he had placed Stair's name in consideration for the church in Monett. The church made contact as well.

"This is a God thing," Stair recalled. "He put me in a path where I was going to be considered whether I wanted to or not." He subsequently met with church leaders and accepted the assignment.

"I've been impressed with the helpfulness and caring I've seen in the community. I feel called to be at this place at this time," Stair said.

From his background, Stair felt as a pastor he would be a good administrator, and would b compassionate and caring. He recalled his time as a Jaycees chapter president, when he had been told, "You will do well because you won't ask anyone to do anything you wouldn't do yourself." Stair planned to apply that formula to his ministry, vowing to do his homework to deliver what God would have him do.

Stair's wife will join him at the end of the current school year, when she finishes current obligations taking care of grandchildren. The Stairs have four grown children. Daughter Vicki, 27, lives in Olathe. Their son Mark, 25, is an accountant in Kansas City and lives in Raytown. Their daughter Kathy, 22, will graduate from Kansas State University in December to pursue the ministry with her degree in Spanish education. Their son Paul, 20, is presently at Johnson County Community College pursuing a degree in landscaping.

The First Christian Church has services at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays at Fourth and Wishart in Monett.

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