Mayor Joe Gunter

This week I am thinking a lot about my friend Joe Gunter. As you know, Mayor Gunter died Monday night after entering the hospital last Thursday. Evidently cancer had come back along with a serious infection. Most everyone was shocked because almost no one knew that Joe had not been well. 
One of the pictures posted by the Salinas Californian was Mayor Joe walking with us in our Martin Luther King “I have a dream” walk back in January. I also remember back in January when Mayor Joe supported us during the difficult time when the neighborhood wanted to shut us down. Actually, Joe took his share of political bruises in the last five years standing up for us and defending what we do. He was always quick to say, “If people don’t like what I do, they can vote me out of office.” I appreciated his political courage and his concern for the people we serve. He had a big heart and he loved his community. He liked to greet me at community events with, “Here comes the pastor of that church.”
One of the first times I ever talked with Mayor Joe was when he showed up at my office one Wednesday morning. I had not even been to a City Council meeting yet. But it seems that one of our core volunteers had gone to the council meeting the night before, stood up during public comment, identified himself as a part of the Methodist Church, and told the Mayor that he should step down from office because he wasn’t doing enough for the homeless. 
I think Joe wanted to get to know me and make sure that I had not put our volunteer up to this public comment. I think he wanted me to know that he supported our ministry, and wanted to work with us. This began a friendship. My door was open to him and his door was open to me. We had many good conversations. He and wife Lisa came to our Luau’s and sometimes helped serve at our big Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. 
I will miss Joe Gunter. He was a good mayor, a good man, and a good friend. May he rest in the eternal peace of God.
Pastor Steve