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From the Pulpitt:

An Easter Message:

Curt the Greatest”

by Rev. Rick Pittenger

We are now in the afterglow of Easter...

It was this past Easter Sunday morning; I had been after Fred for a while to play piano for church again before I leave Vermillion in June. He finally agreed to play for us once again during the offertory at our Easter Sunday Morning Worship. Last year I found out that Fred, our local Walmart Greeter here in Vermillion, could play the piano. Not only could he play it but he also is a gifted composer as well. One Tuesday afternoon after he brought in his tithe for the church, we went into the fellowship hall so he could play a couple of original pieces. Sitting at the piano in the corner of the fellowship hall, he stared off into space as he remembered the musical scores he had written. Graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree from USD a few years ago, he has since become a fixture at the doorway to our local Walmart.

Hello Pastor Rick! How are you doing?!” is the greeting I always receive when I walk through the doors. Fred is always there waiting with his sincere smile. He is always enthusiastic though humble and positive with his greetings to the Walmart patrons.

The first song I remember he played for me was his song “Summer Joys.” If one closes their eyes while listening to his song, your mind drifts to the ocean or lake or river shoreline as the waves cascade against the shore. Clouds and birds dance on in the sunlight as far as the eye can see. It’s a majestic peace that can take your breath away. I swear it could be a musical score for a movie; “Curt the Greatest” could also make it on the big screen someday. The story behind the song “Curt the Greatest!” is a simple one, really. Fred wrote the song for his good friend in high school, Curt. What made him a good friend? He was nice to Fred. He cared for him. The song is now etched in his memory and to those of us who were graced with Fred’s playing of it on Easter. He sat in the front pew and when it was time for the offertory he made his way to the piano, no music in hand, no music on the piano. Fred took his seat at the piano, looked up to the stained glass window of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and began playing “Curt the Greatest” without effort. The keys of the piano sang his song out to the Easter Congregation.

After the worship service was over, people came up to him and told him how nice his music was. “One lady said to me, 'Fred, I didn’t know you had that music in you!'” It was good that he played so we could all enjoy his gift of music.

Just like the message of Christ, long after he disappeared from their sight they could close their minds and recall the joy he brought to their lives.

Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Luke 24:8-12


As we continue in the weeks and months ahead, I too remember many a memory of persons who have crossed my path since coming here almost 6 years ago now. Oh, they’ll probably never make it into a musical score of a movie, but they will be remembered. There is a longing we each carry each day for the melancholy tune of the Summer Joys and Curt the Greatest melodies that continue to ring true in each of our lives.

I give thanks for Fred and the memories we all have of those highlights that make this a great church in which to work, serve, and listen, too, to God’s glory surrounding us always.

Blessed to be a blessing, just like Fred, for we all have our own songs to sing,


Contact Us  
First United Methodist Church
16 North Dakota Street
Vermillion, South Dakota 57069
Phone 605 624 2179
Mobile 605 929 7400
Regular Schedule  
  • 9:00 Adult Sunday School
  • 10:25 Worship (Worship is Blended) We begin with our Praise Band and transition into a more traditional worship. Our Worship uses multimedia as part of our worship! Come Join Us!
  • 11:30 Fellowship & Refreshments (Immediately following our worship service)
  • Welcome Table (All are welcome to serve and be served!)
    5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
  • 5:30 Youth Group and Meal
    5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
  • 5:30 Choir Practice
    5:30 PM to 6:15 PM
  • 7:30 Praise Band Practice: (We try and meet during the summer too!) We plan the Praise Band Music for Sunday's Gathering Music, etc. All are welcome!
    7:30 PM to 8:30 PM
  • Friday Morning Book Study - breakfast is served to all who attend (free) AND GOOD!
    6:45 AM to 8:00 AM
Check back soon for more announcements.