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The People of Praise Responds to Recent Press
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July 11

The People of Praise Responds to Recent Press

Over the past few weeks the People of Praise has received a great deal of attention in the press. Here, we aim to correct the record and provide clarity on a few important points.

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Abbie Teeter (South Bend)
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February 2

Abbie Teeter (South Bend)

I first met my very good friend Abbie Teeter in San Francisco in the early 1970s, when she drove several of us to a weekend retreat of John the Baptist Charismatic Renewal Community. We shared many memorable experiences in those days. The JBCRC Saturday evening prayer meetings were so crowded that some of the people would usually be sitting on the floor, and after the meeting we’d go to someone’s home for Mass, and then stay up talking till the early morning hours.

Jean Chambers

By Tom Noe

Jean Chambers

“We experienced Christ in Jean, and that changed us, and we are very glad for that.” With these words Patrick Pingel opened the wake for our covenanted sister Jean Chambers, who died on August 22. All who spoke that evening echoed Patrick’s words, as well as echoing his joy.

Jean Kline was born in Mishawaka, IN, November 17, 1945, and lived there her whole life. She and Stan were next-door neighbors as teens, and they married on June 25, 1965. She worked as a long-distance operator for Indiana Bell until their sons Matt and Andy were born, then she stayed home to care for them. She attended evening classes for seven years at IUSB to earn her master’s degree in education and special education. After the boys started school she began a teaching career that continued for 34 years: first in special education, and then in elementary school, the third and fourth grades. She said she loved teaching those grades because the kids were still young enough that you could hug them, and they were old enough that they could really start learning. Stan says Jean always wanted to be a teacher: “In high school, that’s all she ever talked about doing. She felt she was doing something important for the kids by teaching.”

Her students loved her in return. One day a few years back, after chemotherapy had caused her to lose all her hair and she had started wearing a turban, her entire class wore turbans or scarves just to be in sync with her.

Stan and Jean were watching local television news one night in 1973 and saw coverage of the Catholic charismatic conference at Notre Dame. Cardinal Suenens was talking about being baptized in the Spirit and having a personal relationship with Jesus. Stan had been raised Baptist and knew what a personal relationship with Jesus was. Jean didn’t quite know what to make of it. But both were intrigued to hear this Roman Catholic cardinal talking about it. Well, in fact they were more than just intrigued, says Stan. They had an argument about who had a better relationship with God! They decided the only way to settle the question was to go to a charismatic prayer meeting and find out. So they showed up at the Wednesday night meeting in the basement of Christ the King church in South Bend.

After the meeting, Stan asked her, “What did you think?”

Jean said, “I don’t know about you, but I’ll be back next week.”

They didn’t miss a meeting after that, and soon formed strong bonds with many of the regulars. On the way to the prayer meeting on Wednesdays, Stan would pick up riders such as Tom and Helen Rudd, then swing by to pick up Jean at IUSB as her class was ending. “I don’t think we were able to make the first Life in the Spirit Seminar at Christ the King,” he recalls, “but it was one of the first.”

When it came to joining the People of Praise, Stan and Jean were just as decisive: “We were called to it, we never had any second thoughts.” They made the covenant on September 24, 1977. Over the years they had three periods of household life: with Tom and Karen Yoder for two or three years, with Jay Conway and her son Luke for four or five years, and with Geoff and Sue Kelleher for several months while they were in the process of moving to South Bend from Hawaii. Jean led a women’s group for a time, and worked at the community’s LaSalle Restaurant. She also served regularly on deliverance teams, at the weekly prayer meetings and at the annual Notre Dame conferences.

Jean excelled at being realistic and practical. She frequented garage sales and the branch’s used goods room in the LaSalle Building to find second-hand clothes for herself, but bought new things for her sons. Helen Rudd recalls, “She always made sure everyone was taken care of. At restaurants she’d always order some unusual appetizer and then pass it around so we all had a chance to taste it, whatever it was. She was always getting books and recommending them or loaning them out. She also loaned out Stan—when she heard about a need, she’d say, ‘Stan’ll help you!’”

Mary Lou Cressy described Jean as “really down to earth, a person of good will. She loved her family and her co-workers and her students, and when you were around her you always felt great. She always thought the best of everybody.”

Melanie Decker told a story about Jean’s practical care for others: “One time when Stan and Jean were driving home from Florida, they were miles down the road when they found out one of their grandkids was sad from missing a grandmotherly hug before they left. So they turned right around and drove back to give that grandchild a hug.”

Jean went through a bout with cancer 23 years ago, and the disease returned two and a half years ago. Melanie recalls, “She talked very matter-of-factly about it, where and how it was spreading, but never complained. She believed in her heavenly Father and knew that he would care for her.”

“The last few months she really missed going to the branch meetings,” says Stan, “but her women’s group came over all the time, brought her Communion, prayed with her, shared with her. She was blessed when about 25 area members came over to the house and played guitar and sang. She loved it.”

“She loved the community,” he adds. “Being in the community gave her friendships with so many godly women. They influenced her and she influenced them. They prayed together, they partied together. You don’t see those kinds of relationships a lot in the world.”

As we gathered together at the wake to honor Jean, many people quoted 1 Corinthians and Proverbs 31, and rightly so, but a simple phrase in Maureen McDonough’s sharing seemed to summarize the breadth and the height and the extent of Jean’s life: “Love spread its wings.”

Responses

  1. gloria Murphy says:

    Jean and I shared teaching together every time we met. She would tell me what was happening in her classroom and I would share my story. Then we'd both laugh. Sometimes I would complain about this or that state mandate and she would agree and tell me what was happening on the grade school level. We'd shake our heads, sigh, complain some more and wonder why we were working so hard at this job. I felt so much better about teaching after talking with her and I hope she did, too. I knew after we parted that she would "get right back on the horse" as the saying goes and work just as hard as ever to teach those children. Jean was real...no frills...but all heart. Oh, and her smile was big, broad and totally contagious. I will always miss you, dearest Jean.

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