My sisters, my parents, and I joined Calvary Baptist Church in early 1971. Immediately we were welcomed into the fold. The Sullivans felt the warmth, love, and encouragement of a church family where the pastor preached God’s Word with boldness and clarity, yet also in a way that invited and challenged folks to experience the joyful adventure of following Christ on a daily basis. In turn, our parents—especially our mother—sought actively to encourage and bless others. Kathleen Sullivan had a knack for relating to people, a special gift that included smiles, love, an upbeat spirit, and a wonderful sense of humor. Yes, she had the gift of hospitality—not just within the walls of her home, but also in the personal interactions she had with both individuals and groups.
One Sunday morning not long after we’d joined, we heard Dr. Corts preach a sermon in which he lamented that several days prior, Coco, the Corts family dog, had eyed his—Mark’s—Bible on the shelf and had gone after it with a vengeance, even making a meal of some of its pages. Malachi and James, he indicated, were especially hard hit. Dr. Corts was compensating for the loss as best he could and even was looking into the possibility of getting the Bible repaired. In the meantime, he was trying to preach using a Bible different from the one with which he was most familiar.
Well, that was all Kathleen Sullivan needed to hear! She sprung into action and covertly began raising money to replace Mark’s Bible. Within a short time she’d gathered the money, purchased a Bible like the one Coco nearly had destroyed, and asked Dr. Chapman for an opportunity to make a special announcement during the upcoming Wednesday night prayer service. Gary, of course, readily agreed. Everything would be a surprise to Mark. One special item Mom threw in was a poem she wrote just for the occasion. Her original draft of the poem contained two verses.
Meanwhile, news came that an attempt to repair the damaged Bible had been somewhat successful. Mom extended her poem by another two verses and even arranged for an artistically inclined high schooler to draw a picture of Coco chewing on Mark’s Bible. This was going to be special!
And it was! Soon after the Wednesday evening service began, Dr. Chapman recognized Kathleen, who “wants to share something special with everyone.”
Kathleen walked right up to the pulpit and spoke with confidence. Yet at the outset, she wanted to make sure no one would misunderstand her. Keenly aware that Paul had written to Timothy that he did “not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence,” Kathleen told the congregation, “I strongly believe the apostle Paul would be in favor of my sharing what I have to share with you tonight.” She then told everyone she had written a poem she wanted to read. “The title,” she said, is “Mark’s Bible.”
Mark Corts was so proud of his Bible;
He put it up high on the sill,
But his dog, he did spy it—
Let no one deny it—
He ate Malachi and James to his fill.
Now Mark, here’s a brand new Bible*
Like the one your dog is digesting.
We know he is big;
He eats like a pig,
But food from this book we’re requesting!
Word came your old Bible’s repaired.
A miracle indeed has been wrought.
Don’t worry a bit;
Think nothing of it;
This new one was already bought!
Perhaps as the years come and go,
This new Bible you’ll be able to use.
From whichever you preach,
You’ll be helping to teach
And lead us His ways to choose.
With love from,
Your Hungry Flock
Members of the congregation, numerous ones of which had helped make the surprise possible, immediately applauded, and of course Mark Corts expressed deep appreciation. For many years after that, until the New King James Bible was published in 1982, Dr. Corts consistently used that Bible in his preaching and teaching ministry.
Thus, for a good many years—just as Kathleen had envisioned—Dr. Corts faithfully fed his flock from the pages of that sacred Book!
—Submitted by B. Nathaniel “Bev” Sullivan, III, with Ruth Moore and Kathy Morris
*As she read this line, Kathleen turned directly toward Mark, who was seated behind her, and handed him the new Bible.