Click here for a printable version of Issue 66 of The Yachats Gazette
Interview with Bob Barrett
We conclude our interview with Bob Barrett, Pastor for the Yachats Presbyterian Church. This is Part 3.
TYG-GD: So, can we briefly get how you came to Yachats?
Bob: Oh, yes! I graduated from seminary—I think it was in 2012. I spent a number of years working as a hospital chaplain at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. Worked a lot as a trauma chaplain. I really loved it, felt called and gifted for it.
TYG: It must have been nice to let a lot of people feel happy in those scary moments.
Bob: Well, I wouldn’t use the word happy, but I know what you mean. Just a calming presence, a safe space—and again, it was mostly just listening. They don’t remember what you said, just that you were there, that they had someone to lean on. I thought that was going to be my calling. But there’s this cumulative, almost post-traumatic stress, and I got to the point where I just realized that I didn’t want to spend another day listening to somebody [tell me] that their three-year-old drowned in a pond while they were at work and the babysitter wasn’t watching, or that their son had an accident at two o’clock in the morning and was dead—I couldn’t do that day after day after day.
TYG-GD: That’s a lot of pain.
Bob: And I also really love the more personal, being in a relationship, building unity. So I decided to look for a congregation. And in the Presbyterian church—you know, in the Catholic church you serve wherever the Bishop sends you—but in the Presbyterian church the church puts an ad in the paper, in essence, and you send out your résumé. It’s kind of like a match.com, where you list your gifts for ministry, the church lists what they’re looking for, you plug them into the computer and try to find a match. Well, they weren’t finding a lot of matches for me. I felt gifted in areas of social justice, and there aren’t a lot of churches looking for pastors, who, you know...
TYG: Except around here.
Bob: Well... Maybe. But even here, they didn’t match us up. I wasn’t getting a lot of hits. And the churches that were calling me—I don’t know how they matched us, because they were pretty fundamental-conservative. But just on a whim, I said “Gosh, I don’t know a lot about Oregon, and I’ve never been west.” So I just started looking at churches that were available in Oregon. And I found this church. It was right on the ocean, and I love the ocean. So I googled the community, and thought that it looked like a great community. So I joked to people in my office at the hospital, and I said, “I’ve found my new church!” And they were like, “Yeah, right.” [laughter] And I said, “No, this is going to be my new church!” and they looked at me and said, “You... and a hundred other people!” [laughter] I don’t know how many other people might have applied, but that day I sent out my résumé, and that night we went out to celebrate: my daughter had just been accepted into nursing school. We were at a restaurant in Wichita, and we got talking with the waiter, and my son said something about being from the coast. And the waiter said, “Oh yeah, me too! Where are you from?” And Zach told him we were from Connecticut. And he says, “Oh, I’m from the other coast—I’m from Oregon.” And I said, “No kidding! I just sent out a résumé for a job in Oregon.” And he said, “Where?” And I said, “Ya-chits?” [laughter] And he said, “No, actually it’s pronounced Yachats, and that’s where I’m from!”
TYG-GD: [open-mouthed pause] No way!
TYG: What a ridiculous series of coincidences!
Bob: I think his name was Ryan. All I had was his first name; he wrote it on the back of his business card. He said his grand-parents were actually from Yachats, but he summered here with them. He told me about all the places I had to check out, Cape Perpetua and Devil’s Churn, the sea lion caves...
TYG: I bet you were hooked!
Bob: I had never heard of Yachats in my entire life, and the day I apply... it was just too weird. I think the next day I got a call from Nan Scott, and said that they would love to talk to me. So we set up a Skype interview. I agonized over how to present myself. The presbytery that I was in in Kansas was a very conservative presbytery. And I really struggled with how I [should] present myself, having a much more progressive, liberal understanding of scripture.
This is convoluted, but it’s an important part of the story, so I’m going to share it: While I was in Kansas, before I was ordained, you have go through this process where you meet with what’s called a Committee on Preparation for Ministry, and they decide whether or not you meet the qualifications. They give you permission to be ordained. And they were making me jump through some hoops that other people didn’t have to jump through because I didn’t grow up Presbyterian, and because of my more liberal, progressive leanings. So while all of that’s going on, and I’m really struggling, and friends-people-colleagues-mentors-peers saying “Just tell them what they want to hear, get ordained, and then you can be whatever you want!” It’s a lot harder to kick you out when you’re in the club. And for my own personal integrity, I need to be authentic. So I decided to be who I am—either they would ordain me or they wouldn’t. I could always find another presbytery, and if this denomination didn’t want me, I could go to a more liberal denomination.
But while all that was going on, one of my Elders came to me and said, “Bob, what do you know about the More Light movement in the Presbyterian church?” It was—the movement still exists, but its focus is different now—it was the movement in the Presbyterian church to raise awareness, and to lobby and activate for gay ordination and same-sex marriage. We just recently came to that: in 2011 we allowed gay ordination, and in 2015 we allowed same- sex marriage. So she came to me and said, “What do you know about it, and what would we have to do to become a More Light congregation?” I said I didn’t know, but I would look into it. She told me that her reasoning for that was that she had a son who was gay, who really felt ostracized and out of place, and didn’t feel a welcome place in the church. He was older now—he was living in California, open, and had actually married in California. So I found out what we would need to do, and essentially, it was just say that you’re an open and affirming church, and pay us one hundred dollars a year in dues. [laughter] They needed to collect money and further their work. But it was a big step to make in a conservative Kansas, right on the buckle of the Bible Belt, three miles from the Oklahoma border.
So I spent a year with my church session studying the topic, and looked at both sides, for and against. We read quite a bit of stuff on the topic, had somebody come in and speak to us, and after a year of studying with the session, the session said “Yes, we want to do this.” I said that we also should have a congregational meeting to discuss it. The session can act on its own, but I wanted complete buy-in. So we had the meeting. I knew there were some more conservative members of the congregation, and I worried about losing some of them. One of the more conservative folks said, “Pastor, I disagree with you on this. I don’t think it’s biblical. I think homosexuality is sin—but lots of things are sin. As a church, we pick and choose which sin is worse, and I don’t want to do that here. I still think everybody is welcome here. This isn’t enough to make me lose the church—it’s a pretty big tent, and I realized there are different ways to understand. But I want you to know I don’t agree with you.” And I said, “Thank you so much!” And he would still, even after we took the vote, he would say, “Here’s fifty bucks, take the group out for pizza.” He was a great guy. So I knew where I stood with him. But he was the only person that voiced any opposition to it.
The other couple that I knew was pretty conservative, I was worried about losing them. They didn’t say a word. And at the end of the congregational meeting, I said “Gosh, I think we just lost them.” And she came up to me after the meeting and said, “Pastor, I didn’t feel comfortable speaking out loud, but I think that what you’re doing is a good thing.” I said, “What?!” She said, “My grand-daughter came to me just about a year ago, and said she needed to tell me something.” And she’s an older woman, like eighty. She asked what, and her grand-daughter told her she was gay. And she said, “Well honey, why didn’t you ever tell me?” and she said “Well, I was afraid you wouldn’t love me anymore.” And she got all teared up, and said, “I don’t ever want another child to think that their grand-mother won’t love them because of who they are.” I just started crying. So, the session voted unanimously to become a More Light congregation. That wasn’t enough—they said, “We want you to read a statement on the floor of the floor of Presbytery about why we made the decision.” I hadn’t been ordained yet, and I’m just shaking like a leaf, and I read this statement—to silence. And I thought, “Oh great. I just ruined any chance I had to be ordained.” [laughter] But, I stayed true to myself, and eventually I got ordained.
So, where were we going? How did I get here?
TYG-GD: Yes! You had Nan Scott, you had a Skype interview...
Bob: Right! So I was agonizing over [how to present myself]—I studied a little bit, looked over the demographics of Yachats, tried to decipher what their meaning might be. I knew it would be more liberal than Kansas, for sure, but still didn’t know who on the session, who on the committee might have more conservative [ideas.] But I told myself that I wasn’t going to start being somebody different now. I didn’t know whether to put on a tie, all this stupid stuff. But then I decided I was just going to be me, so I came to the interview maybe like I am now, blue button-down, no tie, very informal. So Nan called me back, and she said “They loved you, and we want to fly you out for another interview.” So they flew me out, I preached down in Reedsport—just the call committee comes and listens. The call committee makes recommendations to the session. I met with them, and they really liked me, and I just haven’t really ever compromised myself.
TYG: That’s a great way of doing it!
Bob: Yeah! And when they wanted to announce that I was their pick, they wanted a picture to put in the newsletter. And I looked and looked, and finally said, “This picture is me!” It was a picture with a big, red nose, and my hair was just [gesticulates to indicate all over], and that’s the picture I sent for the newsletter. [laughter]
TYG: Did they like it?
Bob: I guess! They called me! [laughter]
TYG-GD: And no regrets since then?
Bob: No. No, no, no. I love the congregation.
TYG: Just one last question to wrap it up—do you think you’ll be changing denominations again in the future?
Bob: [big laughter] No!
TYG: Thank you so much for your time!
Bob: [high fives the Publisher] Hey, thank you!
Interview with Creighton Horton
This is the second part of our interview with the author of A Reluctant Prosecutor.
TYG-Editorial Assistant: I have a question. The title of your book is kind of intriguing: A Reluctant Prosecutor. It sort of implies that that’s an exceptional state of mind among prosecutors. What do you typically see as the state of mind of a prosecutor? Certitude, bluff and bravado, righteousness, businesslike?
Creight: Well, you have quite a cross-section of different people. Not too many, though some of them, have been on the defense side before, and then they become prosecutors. I found this sort of helpful in terms of a balance. You can see both sides, and you may be more likely to look at a case critically. If you’ve just been on the prosecution side, and that’s all you’ve ever wanted to do, if your main goal has been to put people away, you may be less inclined to be focusing in on “Let’s be careful that we don’t accidentally prosecute the wrong person.” So I think that the idea of a reluctant prosecutor plays on a lot of different levels. One of the Amazon reviews on the book said, “Well, it’s called A Reluctant Prosecutor, but it’s really just the first chapter, where he talks about being a defense attorney then he switched to prosecution. From that point on it’s all about the stories from his cases.” I think they missed a lot of different parts of that reluctance. Reluctant to file a case where I wasn’t convinced that somebody was guilty, and the police wanted me to, or even my boss wanted me to; reluctant to sort of be gung-ho on the death penalty, and eventually pull back on it entirely; reluctant [as in], I was never one that went out and tried to get a big case—I was often reluctant enough that I tried not to get the big case! [chuckles] And then I’d get it, and it was, you know, in the press all the time. If I’d wanted to be in the press I would have tried to get those cases, but I wasn’t one that was eager to get my name out there. I wasn’t using this as a stepping-stone to politics, should I be elected as prosecutor, or anything else. At the public service level I was at, I was feeling comfortable. I wasn’t bucking for the judge, or anything. So I think I was reluctant in those areas more than some prosecutors were. That title came to me almost immediately when I first started writing the book. I was originally going to call it “Memoirs Of A Reluctant Prosecutor,” and somebody pointed out that memoirs are usually kind of dry and not very interesting—it’s a bunch of details that nobody except [the author] cares very much about. [laugh] So I thought, “Well, maybe I won’t use the term ‘memoirs’.”
TYG-EA: You saw that other sort of mind-set that you described?
Creight: If your main focus is sort of law-and-order, and aligning with the cops so directly—and this was a tricky thing! [There have been] a lot of cops that I was very close to and which I really liked. Some of them I didn’t get along with, but you know, that happens in every profession, and to everybody. But even with people I got along with well, I couldn’t allow that to become a substitute for being careful about filing a case they brought to me. If ever I had a cop come in to me and say, “I need a favor,” [laugh] that was a red flag that they were going to say, “Look, this case is a little weak, but if you file it we’ll go out and get the rest of the evidence we need.” And that was a pitch we got a lot! “Oh, we’ll keep investigating, and before you go to trial there will be more evidence.” Sometimes it was hard to tell them, “No, you need to go do more investigation—I’m not comfortable with the evidence, and no, I can’t do this on the basis that we’re friends, and I’m doing you a favor.”
TYG: Just to understand the motivations of a prosecutor—how do prosecutors get paid, usually?
Creight: Well, they’re government employees, so they get paid a fixed salary at whatever level it is.
TYG: Oh, okay.
Creight: One thing to understand about prosecutors is that they get paid way less than you could get if you were in private practice and you were a defense attorney. Some of the defense attorneys we were going against, they were making many, many, many, many times more than we were making, even the investigators! I had a case where it was a capital murder case, the investigator who was hired to assist the defense attorney, who just sat through the trial and did nothing, was being paid more than I was to prosecute the case. So there was this huge discrepancy between what you could make as a private lawyer defending criminal defendants, and what you could make as a prosecutor. Similarly, if you were a legal defender, you wouldn’t make a lot of money either. But anybody who left either prosecution or the public defender’s office, and decided to go and just represent private clients, could make a lot of money.
TYG: I was wondering, for example, whether you just got a bonus per case or something.
Creight: Oh no, no, it was nothing like that. You might be able to get a raise, and if you were seen as doing a particularly good job you might get some bonus at the end of the year. They had things like “Lawyer of the Year” awards. You’d get a small amount of money and some plaque or something. It wasn’t like if you wanted to supplement your income, you could put in extra effort on a case in order to get a win.
TYG: Yeah, that’s what I was wondering about.
Creight: No, no... You’re focused in on trying to make sure that you do a good job and that somebody who’s committed a crime was going to get convicted. But again, I think that if you do that, and that’s your daily activity, it becomes your mind-set, such that you may not be as quick to be concerned about whether somebody’s getting caught up in the system that shouldn’t be, that maybe there’s an innocent person being prosecuted. And I did see cases where the prosecutor would file on the fairly low standard probable cause, and afterwards information would come to light which might have made him hesitate to file to begin with, but because they were already in the process, there had already been a defense attorney appointed, they were already sort of in the adversarial role of prosecutor versus defense attorney, there’s the natural inclination not to let the defense attorney win, you know, because you’re used to going to battle with them—they probably should have pulled back, looked at the new evidence, and said “I don’t think this case is as strong as I thought it was; we should dismiss it.”
TYG: What would you do if, essentially, you were brought a case of a crime where you were made to understand what it was, but had never actually been tried before, and isn’t actually in the law?
Creight: Well, there has to be a law. There has to be a criminal statute before you can bring a charge. When you charge somebody, you cite the code level, like the Utah criminal code section such-and-such. In violation of that, the person is charged with breaking and entering, or sexual assault, or murder, or whatever the crime was. But you have to lay out, in the charging document, where it is in the code that that’s a crime and what the elements of that crime are: On such-and-such a date, the defendant intentionally or knowingly caused the death of so-and-so, or whatever the crime is. So you can’t just decide that somebody’s done something bad and charge them just for doing that.
TYG: How did you end up in Yachats?
Creight: In 1988, I had just transferred from the DA’s office to the Attorney General’s office. My wife and I decided to elope, and we were looking for states where there was a short period of time between when you could get a license, and when you could get married. She found that Oregon just had a three-day waiting period. We could come into the state, stop at the first county, get the license, and then within a few days we could get married. We both liked the ocean, and we both liked lighthouses, and so we decided we would elope to a lighthouse. So that’s what we did in 1988: we went to the Cape Blanco lighthouse down near Port Orford. A couple of years later, we came back for an anniversary trip and decided we would just wend our way up the coast. About the time we were hitting Yachats, it was getting to be late in the day, and my wife was saying that we probably ought to find a place to stay for the night, and noticed the Fireside Motel. We liked that it was quite a ways off the road, right out on the ocean, and so we stayed there that night. And through the years, maybe every two or three years we would come back, because Oregon was still one of our favorite places, and Yachats was our favorite place on the Oregon coast. Initially we’d stay one or two nights at the Fireside, then we’d stay other places up and down the coast. And then the next time we came we’d stay three nights at the Fireside. And then four nights. [laugh] It was always our favorite place, and Yachats was our favorite place, and we just kept on getting drawn into it. Then eventually, after I retired and we were looking for places to live, this was one that really appealed to us. So we started to see if we could find something here. But we were also looking inland, to see if we could find someplace that would meet all our criteria, say Corvallis, where our daughter was going to college. We were just really lucky: just about when we were about to give up and rent a place inland, this house came available right at that moment, and just had that “meant-to-be” feel about it. I get kidded by my friends and my brother that I should be on the payroll for the Chamber of Yachats, telling people how wonderful it is, but I just genuinely love it here, and I love having people come and visit me here.
TYG: What kind of music do you actually do?
Creight: Well, right now, I’ve hooked up with Dave Cowden, another life-long musician who is from Kansas City, and he and his wife moved to this area about three months before we did. We met at an open mic—the first time I went to an open mic here.
TYG: Open mics are fun.
Creight: Oh yeah. They’ve always been a highlight, even if we’re not playing. But that’s where I met Dave. So now we play classic, popular music going back from the 50’s on, so like Everly Brothers, the Beatles, the 60’s, the 70’s, some into the 80’s. And because of my daughter saying, “Well, you know, you should really do something from this century, Dad!” [chuckles] we do a couple of songs that are only a few years old. But most of what we do is kind of vintage stuff people remember, that they grew up with. So we just do the Beatles, Jim Croce, James Taylor... and then I do a lot of Celtic stuff, because I really like that. There’s a guy named Dougie MacLean—he’s kind of the James Taylor of Scotland...
TYG: I don’t know James Taylor, so...
Creight: [Turning to the Editorial Assistant, laughing] What kind of Dad are you? You haven’t introduced this kid... I mean, you even have the same last name! He doesn’t know who James Taylor is?
TYG-EA: He doesn’t know a lot of things... but... what do you like? The Beatles, the Who, that kind of thing...
Creight: Oh, I was a huge fan of the Beatles! The Beatles are the reason I got into playing music at all. You know, when I was younger, they gave me piano lessons, and I hated it. I’d just look at the music on the page...
TYG: I play piano, and I quite like it!
Creight: Good! Well, I play piano now, and I love it! But I went back and learned it after, not because of what I’d learned as a young kid. When the Beatles hit, I was just completely captured, and I wanted to be part of that. So I got a guitar, and learned how to play chords, and my buddy down the street and I would pick out the melodies and play the chords. But anyway, pretty much all my life I’ve done different kinds of music. I’ve played a bunch of different instruments: banjo in a ragtime group, mandolin, guitar, bass, keyboards, harmonica... I’ve just always loved music. For me, to move to the musical capital of Oregon! When you think about how many places you can go here and get live music, in a place with 700 residents—it’s pretty amazing! LunaSea, the Farm Store sometimes...
TYG: LunaSea has live music?
Creight: Sure! This is something that just started, because when we came to town, my daughter Eyrie got a job at the LunaSea as one of the servers. She went to the owner, Robert Anthony...
TYG: He’s our neighbor. I mean, literally. Right across the court.
Creight: That’s so cool, because when we were still looking for a place to live, Robert, and his friend Jeremy, were trying to help us. And we were like, “Gee, they don’t even know us, and they’re trying to help us, and they’re so friendly!” and in fact, after we found this house and we went down to eat at the Luna, my daughter looked out the window and said “Hey, you can see the house from the window!” And at that point, Jeremy, one of the waiters down there, was on the phone with somebody, and we could hear him saying “Yeah, Creight and Eyrie and Jo, they’re back, yeah, they’re back!” and we thought, “What’s he doing? Who’s he talking to?” and he walked over and he handed the phone over to Eyrie, and said “It’s Robert! He’s out in his boat and he wants to talk to you.” She takes the phone, and he offers her a job, on the spot. So anyway, she ends up becoming a server there, then she tells him, “You know, the Fourth of July is rolling around,” —this was 2014—she says, “I bet if you built a stage down here, my Dad and his buddy would come play music. [laugh] And so he did, and on the Fourth of July that was the first time we ever played, and after that it was like, “Well hey, there’s a stage here!” So we started to play every weekend, pretty much, during the summer season. So that’s been a ton of fun, and also playing at the Drift has been fun. We do both, and to me, it’s just so much fun. You know, when I was a kid, I kind of fantasized being in a rock group... and now, with Dave, who is a terrific musician—he was a member of a group back in Kansas City when he was in high school that was quite well known, and he had been in professional groups for years and years. So when I went to the first open mic and he was there, that was a great opportunity for us to get together. And he’d just come to town too. Initially I wasn’t sure if we were into the same type of music, wasn’t sure we were going to gel, but it’s been a hoot. So I got to give up my law license when I left, which I did real quickly; come out to Yachats, my favorite place in the world; and start playing music—I’ve just been really, really thankful.
TYG-EA: You win!
Creight: And the other thing that’s so wonderful about it is that because Yachats is such a great place... We didn’t know anybody when we moved here, but we immediately made a lot of friends. Part of it was through that group at open mic—that was kind of our first entrée into the community. But a lot of people come visit, because who doesn’t want to come [here]? And, our daughters come back in the summertime from college, because they love being here, and they can be down at the Luna, plus my older daughter, who’s in New Hampshire right now, is a really good little Celtic fiddler, and she and I have played down at times at the Luna as well, and she’s probably going to come back next summer and play with me, so I’ll get to have both my daughters here with me in the summer, get to have great fun playing music. Plus, we get to play at the Drift, which I always saw when we’d come through here we’d see people up on the stage, and we’d say “Yeah, maybe if we move here, I could play there.” But I was never really thinking that could happen, because I was never a solo performer, and I hadn’t thought that I could hook up with somebody else. When I came here, I hadn’t done any singing in the group I was with in Utah, because they already had several singers when I joined the group, and I hadn’t really thought of doing it anyway. But when I came here and went to the first open mic, it was like, “Well, I guess I’m going to have to sing.” And now, Dave and I sing all the time.
TYG: Well thank you so much for your time!
Creight: Hey, you’re welcome Allen! You’re very welcome.
OF LOCAL NOTE
Event Dates: March 10-12
Photo: Art Quilt by Christine Holden, titled Ocean Gems- Kelp Greenling Pair
The Ocean Artistry Art Quilt Show and Sale is shaping up to be an incredible array of world class art, sure to please everyone. More than 100 Art Quilts from five countries will be hanging in the Yachats Commons, as entries from the juried show ‘Gems of the Ocean’, go on display March 10 – 12. The show is open 10:00 AM – 5:00 P.M. Friday through Sunday. Daily admission is a $5.00 donation.
Sponsored by Polly Plumb Productions and the City of Yachats, Oregon, the show received financial support from the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund and the City of Yachats’ New Event Fund.
“Entries for the show exceeded my expectations in both quantity and quality” said Polly Plumb Board member Ruth Bass. “We have an international exhibit of art quilts coming to Yachats, with many pieces worthy of any museum collection. One of the goals of the show is to introduce art quilting to local residents as well as visitors to the area. Art quilts do not typically follow the patterns used in traditional quilting. Instead, artists use fabric and other materials to build conceptual creations based on a theme, design or simply the artist’s imagination.” Bass added.
According to the Art Quilt Association club definition “An art quilt is an original exploration of a concept or idea rather than the handing down of a ‘pattern’. It experiments with textile manipulation, color, texture and/or a diversity of mixed media. An Art Quilt often pushes quilt world boundaries . An Art Quilt should consist predominately of fiber or a fiber-like material with one or multiple layers which are held together with stitches or piercing of the layers.”
Grand prize award for the show is $1000, with a second place award of $500, and a third place award of $250, Winners will be chosen by a panel of dignitaries prior to the show’s opening. A Viewer’s Choice Award of $250. will be decided by show attendees. Art patrons and collectors note, a large majority of the pieces on display will be available for purchase. Credit cards accepted.
Polly Plumb Productions (PPP) is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization that supports and promotes music and dance performances and art exhibitions in the Yachats area. Other PPP programs include the annual Rainspout Music Festival (https://rainspout.org ) and the popular annual Yachats Celtic Music Festival (http://