Marshburn’s High Flight
Wednesday, a dream came true for astronaut Tom Marshburn, as the space shuttle Endeavor slipped the surly bonds of Earth on his first flight into space. It was something he had dreamed of since childhood, when his father, Robert Marshburn, Jr., was  minister of First ARP Church in Statesville, NC.

Older sister Barbara Nickles, now Dean of Nursing Specialties at Greenville (SC) Technical College, remembers how much her brother loved to build rockets and was always drawing spaceships shooting across a page of notebook paper to a distant moon. “I wasn’t at all surprised when he was accepted into the flight program with NASA,” she said. “Tom always knew what he wanted.”

Just as his father felt a call to the Christian ministry when he joined the church at age 14, and never wavered from that call, Tom too never wavered from his dream. In high school, after his father was called to the Doraville (GA) Church near Atlanta, Marshburn said he was still thinking about space. In a NASA preflight interview he said, “I thought, boy, I would love to work for NASA and build rockets.” But he didn’t think he could be an astronaut.

All of Bob and Gladys Marshburn’s seven children went into the medical profession. Nickles says she was the first, and decided to become a nurse. “I would go with my dad on hospital visits. Learning was valued highly in our family. Our parents didn’t tell us we had to do well in school, but dad wanted all of us to be well-read. We had a huge library.” Bob Marshburn also served as Moderator of General Synod in 1964 and 1983.

As the last of seven children, Marshburn credits his brothers and sisters for being his primary motivators in school. “Tom saw that we were excelling in the academic field and were happy and excited about what we were doing,” Nickles said.

So, family members gathered for the sixth time at the Banana Creek Viewing Site three miles from Cape Canaveral to witness liftoff of the space shuttle Endeavor. After five launches were scrubbed due first to a hydrogen gas leak, then bad weather, all systems were go and  Marshburn’s family could hardly believe they were finally witnessing liftoff.

“We have all been praying for Tom,” Nickles said. “But we are not worried. He is well-grounded. After all, he was raised in the ARP Church.” The mission finally launched the day before the 40th anniversary of man’s first lunar landing on Apollo 11. On July 16, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to begin manned exploration of the Moon’s surface.

Marshburn is one of seven astronauts on a 16-day mission to rendezvous with the International Space Station. Among other duties, the mission specialist will participate in three of the five scheduled spacewalks.

“We’re going up there handling objects, payloads, materials that people have dedicated their lives to ensuring are well taken care of, well designed, and it’s up to us to just put that little last final piece in there of operating it or moving it,” he said in the preflight interview. “It motivates the crew to do the absolutely best they can to take care of the nation’s hardware.

During the time Endeavor is docked at the space station, shuttle astronauts will help install the third and final piece of the Japanese space station laboratory, a porch for outdoor experiments. Japan’s $1billion laboratory is the largest of the three stations there.

Marshburn says a big challenge will be communicating with astronauts already on the space station. “In terms of just being able to work shoulder-to-shoulder with them; that’s going to be a real joy. That’s going to be a dream-come-true.”

Wales Group Safe
Rev. Juan Carlos Bonilla, World Witness short term coordinator, called to say that all groups have arrived in London safely and had no trouble entering the UK. “We are very thankful for all the prayers lifted up on our behalf,” Rev. Bonilla said. “Everyone is very excited about this missions trip.” Please continue to pray for this group as they witness to the youth of Wales.

Music Conference Concert Tonight!
Music Conference worship and concert is tonight at 7p.m. at the Youth Activity Building – all are welcome.  Pray for the participants and those who are in the congregation.  “When in Our Music God is Glorified” is the theme.

Camp Bonclarken I begins Sunday
Please pray for the week-long camp, which begins Sunday. Pray for campers, counselors and staff. This year’s camp theme is “Parables of Jesus.”

Camp Bonclarken II
Please continue to pray for this second session of Camp Bonclarken, July 26-31 –  continuing to pray for campers, counselors and staff. The “Parables of Jesus” theme will continue for this session.