Kathleen Baskin-Ball

Kathleen Baskin-Ball has cancer. She’s been fighting cancer for several months, and I have a good idea she’s going to beat it.

There is a benefit concert for her coming up on April 22, and I wanted you all to know about it.

“The Power of a Song: An Evening with Nashville Songwriters”
benefitting Rev. Kathleen Baskin-Ball

Sunday, April 22, 2007 from 5 PM until 7:30 PM
Doors will open at 4:30 PM.

First United Methodist Church, sanctuary
503 North Central Expressway | Richardson, Texas 75080

The show will feature Nashville songwriters Nicole Witt, Don Poythress, Celia Whitler, and Billy Montana. You can learn more about these songwriters at Celia’s website here.

Here’s some of the public information that’s been posted about Kathleen’s cancer:

4

Kathleen recently learned that she has neuroendrocrine carcinoma. She had a mass of cancer about the size of a baseball in her chest cavity near her heart and lungs and extensive cancer throughout her liver. They are not sure where the cancer originated in her body. The cancer was growing very rapidly. Kathleen started her first round of chemotherapy in early January. She plans to continue having 3 days of chemotherapy treatment every 21 days until she completes 6 rounds of chemotherapy. We have a lot of hope that she can win this battle with cancer. At the end of January, she received some encouraging test results indicating that the cancer was responding to chemotherapy. She continues to preach most Sundays and to work in the church office. She reduces her office hours as needed.

Celia has been a friend of mine for many years, and I’m really pleased to hear that she’s putting on this show for our mutual friend, Kathleen. The artists featured that night are both country and inspirational. And , knowing Celia, they will all be top-notch.

There is no question that Kathleen is one of my own personal-living-saints and “balcony people.” Kathleen has been a good friend and colleague of mine for years. Almost every time somebody gets cancer, their friends say “why them?” And sometimes, our selfish sides say “why not someone else?”

Lots of folks are saying that about Kathleen. She is such a beacon of light and hope for so many people, and her own life has been a story of overcoming obstacles, and rising from challenging times to new life and hope.

Kathleen and I are ministry colleagues, but we are also good friends. For many years, we were in a once-a-month study group together, where we not only read books, but also shared what was going on in our lives and in our hearts. The “Listening for God” group is still an important part of who I am. And even though we don’t all see each other as much now, they are still some of my closest friends.

Kathleen’s been through many ups and downs. Early in her ministry, she was appointed to West Dallas, and served a small church there. She not only served that church well, but also lived among the people there in West Dallas. Bilingual and filled with a heart for service, she worked long hours to bring hope to that challenging part of the city. There are very likely young people alive today because of her ministry.

She moved from there to Greenland Hills UMC, where even in a more suburban setting, she continued to push the envelope and challenge her congregation to reach out and include those who are traditionally marginalized by the church.

She struggled through a difficult marriage, and a painful divorce during that period. Sometimes, you can love and admire both halves of couple, care for them both, and still see how they just can’t make it work, you know? It was like that.

And so it was that, single again, Kathleen began a period of hoping for her own future. Which, believe it or not, would take a dramatic turn at my CD release party in early 2001.

Kathleen, good friend that she is, decided to come to Poor David’s Pub that night. Lots of the single adults that I worked with at HPUMC were also there. Among them, a thirty-something man named Bill Ball. (Follow this link, and you can actually see Bill in the “Shots of the Crowd” pic from the CD Release Party. To my left, he’s on the front row, three people in from the center aisle. Amazing that out of the 200-or-so folks there you can actually see him….) Bill was very active in our largest singles class. He, his Mom and his sister, all attended the chapel service I preached each week too.

So, I knew Kathleen well from one part of my life. I knew Bill well from another. But I had no idea that they’d ever known each other. Turns out, when he was just a youth and she was a very young minister, they had known each other at the Annual Conference level. But now, it was…what…fifteen years later? And there they both were, at my CD release party.

The week after, they both called me individually. Each conversations went something like this:

“Hey, enjoyed your CD release party.”

“Thanks, (Bill/Kathleen).”

“Hey, I noticed that (Bill Ball/Kathleen Baskin) was there.”

“Oh yeah, do you know (him/her)?”

“Yeah, we used to know each other years ago…”

“Oh…cool.”

I would make a terrible matchmaker, BTW. I was too dense to put…ahem…two-and-two together. In retrospect, the neon lights should have been flashing and the sirens going off. I do remember wondering, for half a second, why these folks were each calling me about each other. But I quickly put it out of my mind.

But sparks did fly. Romance blossomed. And when it’s right, sometimes it hits you hard and quick, and you just “know.” So it was that they were married in a matter of months.

Who woulda thunk that lives would changed –destinies be sealed– at Poor David’s Pub?! (aside: It ought to give you pause. Who knows what might happen to you if you come to one of my shows?)

And of all the many ministers they know, I was deeply honored to be the one chosen to preside over their wedding. It was a wonderful night of celebration.

Then came the challenge of trying to have a child. It took a while, and a lot of medical help, buteventually their beautiful son, Skylar, was born. I can’t think of two more loving and caring people, and two more loving and caring parents. Bill is such a kind and generous soul himself, and you always feel like a better person just to be in the presence of them both.

So now, just a few years after this, when life seemed to be going really well, it turns out Kathleen has cancer. And as I said, it hardly seems fair. But then, when I step back, when is cancer ever fair? I know that. And yet, when it happens to a soul as beautiful as Kathleen, even the part of me that knows that asks “why?”

Kathleen, from what I can tell, is not spending a lot of time asking “why?” She’s fighting. She’s fighting hard. And by all accounts, she’s beating the odds. She was given a three month prognosis that she’s already beaten. Beating the odds is the first step toward winning this battle.

You can learn more about Kathleen here.
And you can listen to some of her great sermons
here.

If you can’t make the show, you can still make a contribution here:

Checks should be made payable to Suncreek United Methodist Church
and can be mailed to 1517 West McDermott Drive Allen, Texas 75013.
(Write “Glory Be! Fund” in the memo blank.
)

I am not kidding you when I tell you that I pray for her everyday. I pray for Bill and Skyler too, and for all of us who love her dearly.

She and Bill were brought together through the “Power of a Song,” and so I know this show will be a special one.

Just knowing Kathleen, I have the faith that she’s going to beat this.

There’s too much for her to do, too much life to be lived, here among us.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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