My brother George and I are blessed to have had the best father in the world. You might disagree with that unbiased evaluation, but he and I feel that way.
Dad worked with the Highway Department of Florida in the 1930’s when he and my Mom married. They lived in Pensacola, Florida. He helped build the road from Fort Walton Beach to Destin. He told about going by boat over to the desolate island of Destin. There was nothing there but a fish camp. They tried to sell him and his friends some of that great beachfront property for a $1 an acre. He said it wasn’t worth a $1 at that time!
He felt God’s call to preach in the mid – 1930’s. He accepted that call and served some very small churches in the Pensacola area. He moved to Notasulga in 1940, to Wetumpka in 1945, to Opelika in 1950, became a District Superintendent in Pensacola in 1962, and in 1966 became pastor of First UMC in Panama City, Florida. He reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 1980, then served part time the Gulfview UMC on Panama City Beach for 15 years!
Dad went to two small colleges in the panhandle of Florida, and both of them closed while he was a student! When he moved to Notasulga he attended Auburn. He said that Auburn was stable enough that he didn’t close it. He moved to Wetumpka in 1945 and enrolled at Huntingdon. I remember going to his college graduation when I was a fifth grader.
His name was Marion Clyde, but his nickname was Si. My son and grandson are named Si.
Recently someone shared with me an article that appeared in 1947 in The Dadeville Record. Dad must have been a visiting Preacher in Dadeville. It captures a secular paper’s view of his ministry.
Why Si Mathison Is A Successful Preacher
Most preachers make a success of their work, but some achieve distinction in it. That means that they are a little bit different, or a great deal different from other preachers.
In our opinion Mr. Mathison is not very different from others but he is different enough to be distinct and to have a place all his own. What is the difference?
In the first place he has about the least amount of egotism of any preacher you will meet. He is thoroughly humble. Then, he is sincere, he is just plain Si Mathison, he is not even Marion Clyde Mathison, but Si Mathison.
He has what is sometimes called “genuine religion,” if our impression of him is correct. There are no frills. He possesses simply the old time God-fearing, mankind-loving kind of religion, the kind that is catching in a degree. He radiates it, in his simple, kindly way, and love begets love. People like him.
Some things he doesn’t do. He doesn’t shout, he doesn’t argue, he doesn’t berate or demean even the sinner, he makes no harsh criticisms, he makes no undue claims for religion, he tells no unbelievable stories or incidents about it.
If you don’t know him yourself, our description of him won’t help you much, for there are no words that can perfectly describe a sure enough man, and that is what we believe Si Mathison is, a simple, sincere, humble, good and religious man who is trying, in the fear of the God he serves, to make the most of his life while he lives.
Thanks Dad for being a successful Preacher and Father!