Wayland campus director publishes book of newspaper columns

CLOVIS – In his former life as a journalist, Wayland Baptist University - Clovis Executive Director Dr. Gary Mitchell expounded on issues ranging from the theological and spiritual to the general and seasonal – all through the voice of a church mouse named Amos.

Now, readers outside of Clovis, N.M., will have a chance to see the world through Amos’ eyes as a new book compiles a collection of Mitchell’s columns. Published by Pleasant Word, a division of WinePress Publishing, Amos the Church Mouse: a view from under the pew features what Mitchell considers the best 50 of his columns penned by Amos.

Mitchell started the columns in 1965 as an installment in his church youth newsletter while in high school. He continued to write Amos columns during college and seminary years, though not as heavily. When Mitchell became a pastor in Clovis, Amos expounded more often, then found a publication home in the Clovis News-Journal when Mitchell joined the staff in 1989. Mitchell estimates Amos has written more than 500 columns over his lifetime, and the book format seemed a natural next step.

“During the course of writing these Amos columns in a secular newspaper, it has always intrigued me when I would hear positive comments from agnostic friends in the community or even from folks who professed no religious faith at all,” Mitchell said. “Many would say that they could enjoy reading Amos because it was non-threatening to them. It makes me feel that God is using this format to encourage, inform and inspire people to know Him, that it ultimately is glorifying Him.”

Mitchell said he feels Amos transcends denominational lines as he tackles attitudes, emotions and philosophical issues with an amazing and sometimes whimsical, thought-provoking insight. He encounters issues and incidents with which everyone can relate. As other characters enter the scene – including Freddy the Flea, Louie the Songdog, Prayer Virgil the Praying Mantis and others – Amos is able to explore the issues of church life and beyond in a simple yet thoughtful way.

Mitchell’s style is simple as well, with no punctuation and only lower-case letters – attributed, he says, to the difficulty for Amos to operate a keyboard in the first place, much less use the shift key or punctuate.

A graduate of the University of North Texas, Mitchell also holds a master’s degree and doctorate from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been assistant professor of religion and campus executive director at WBU-Clovis since 2006 and served as assistant to the dean for two years prior. He has taught part-time for Clovis Community College as well.

Illustrated by Ron Wheeler, Amos the Church Mouse is available at the Wayland University Store on the Plainview campus or online at www.winepressbooks.com, www.amazon.com or www.christianbooks.com. Book signings are scheduled in Clovis for Nov. 15 at The Masters Books and Gifts and at Joe’s Boot Shop on Dec. 20. A signing was held in Plainview on Oct. 23.