Sunday night I got a call from a college friend of mine who flies for Ozark. He was in town on a layover and just wanted to touch base and keep the friendship alive.
We talked about the purchase of Ozark by TWA. Of course, I am very keen on all “merger” talk these days so I listened intently. Ozark has about 600 pilots. TWA has about 3500. With Ozark men are attaining the seniority of pilot within ten years. With TWA you need 15 to 20 years of experience to rise to the level of pilot. The upshot of this is that my friend, Dan, will probably be “moved back two seats” in the proposed consolidation of the two airlines. He expects to be a “flight engineer” at the outset.
What surprised me is how much equanimity Dan had about all this. He said that in the long run it would probably be good, and so he was not very uptight about it.
This was a help to me. Many of us have grown weary recently with the drawn-out merger discussions with First Baptist Church. Family and health and ministry and profession have taken a back seat for most of the men on the consolidation committees, and for other leaders and staff as well. We have sometimes wondered if it is worth the effort. I feel like Bethlehem is like a young thoroughbred waiting to be saddled and mounted and released from the stall, while the jockeys and trainers are meeting to discuss horse-diet and race rules.
Our combined consolidation committee meeting on Thursday, October 9, was, I think, a watershed encounter. Most of us did not get to bed before 1:30 a.m. the next morning. The atmosphere was blunt and candid to the breaking point. Raw nerves were touched on both sides and words were exchanged, which, on my part, required at least two phone calls the next day to apologize for an ungracious tongue.
The patient “died” on the operating table several times during the evening. But the remarkable grace of steady minds on both sides tenderly resuscitated her life. From my (Monday morning) perspective it seems that the merger is now alive and well. Virtually all major obstacles have been overcome. I regard this as a decisive work of God, in view of our late night encounter. It is precisely this kind of crisis and victory that assure my heart that God is in this merger and means to make it happen.
I write this that you may know none of us is hurtling toward the wedding like a starry-eyed romantic without any notion of the pains of married life. And I write that you may double your efforts in prayer for the grace and power of God to prevail.
The time for voting on the proposed merger will probably not take place until around the end of November. You will be hearing and reading much more!
Hoping in God,