You never really know who your friends are, do you? Some time ago in my Toastmasters club, a member of my club, Glenn Ballantyne, gave a speech about how Roger Williams had affected his life—personally. I had a vague idea who Roger Williams was. A musician, right? Pretty famous, wasn’t he? I mean he had to be pretty famous if I vaguely recognized his name. But recently I’ve discovered people are finding God in Roger Williams.
This past week Glenn Ballantyne came to Toastmasters and spoke again, but this time he talked about how grateful he was for the training in public speaking he’d received through Toastmasters because he had needed it when he did some public speaking just days earlier. He was in California, he said. And there was national media there, he said. He had spoken at the services of a good friend. And as a speaker, he was sandwiched in between the Reverend Robert H. Schuller and another man named Tom Tipton.
I recognized Robert H. Schuller’s name. There was nothing vague about that to me, as I’m familiar with Robert H. Schuller as the long-time, now-retired Pastor of the famous Crystal Cathedral.
Of course all of us wondered who Glenn was talking about. Whose services had he spoken at in California where there was national media?! Why in the world was he speaking with Robert H. Schuller?! We hadn’t heard that Glenn’s good friend, Roger Williams, had passed away.
From his first speech, I knew Glenn had met Roger Williams when he was very young, but I had no idea how much they had worked together or how deeply Roger Williams had impacted Glenn’s life. In an article in The Orange County Register covering the services where Glenn spoke, Glenn was quoted as saying, “Roger Williams saved my life.” At seven years old, Glenn went with his mother to hear Roger Williams in concert and it changed Glenn’s life, inspiring him to become a pianist by overcoming his attention deficit disorder.
While I had heard of the Crystal Cathedral, I did not know until I read that article that Roger Williams was the pianist there for more than 35 years. Rev. Robert H. Schuller said Roger Williams “believed in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.” At his services, those attending watched a video of Roger Williams playing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” at the Crystal Cathedral. Thanks to the technology of our day, the witness for Jesus and the music of Roger Williams continues. So even though he has gone home to heaven, people are still finding God in Roger Williams.
Roger Williams playing his biggest hit “Autumn Leaves” in the Crystal Cathedral: