70-year-old Roman Catholic Greets Adventists at General Conference Session
by Brennan J. Wimbish
Attendees to the 57th General Conference Session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church were warmly greeted each day with a smile or handshake by people clad in navy blue pants and a yellow, blue, and white striped shirt. One such greeter was Bobby Dempsey, a 70-year-old Roman Catholic from New Brunswick, Canada, who spent 25 years of service in the Canadian forces. Now retired, he works with the Event Staff at the SkyDome in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and has worked with them for six years.
Standing at the entrance to Gate 5 of the SkyDome, he greeted people with a warm handshake, friendly smile, and hug—often assisting those who didn’t know where to go. “I like meeting people and it is tremendous to see so many folks from so many different nations,” he marveled. “That’s why I can’t work the elevator job, you don’t really get to talk to people.” He stopped to shake hands with two gentlemen from the Dominican Republic, chatting and laughing with them. Whether it be a hug for an elderly lady, a joke or two with a delegate, or even slapping five to a six-year-old boy riding on his father’s shoulders, Dempsey has a gift for being friendly and personal with people. “Mankind of every description is my neighbor,” he beamed as he shook hands with a delegate from Nigeria.
“I’ve been greeting Adventists for ten days now from 6:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon” he said. Some might think it funny that a devout Roman Catholic would be greeting Seventh-day Adventists during world church meetings for Adventists. In fact, some of the other workers felt they would be harassed to convert to Adventism by many of the visitors and refused to work as greeters. Bobby, however, was not discouraged. “People are very, very friendly here. A few were surprised that I’m a Roman Catholic but they don’t criticize or ridicule me,” he stated.
And the reception he gets from individuals reflects the effectiveness of his friendly personality. “He greets me, and hugs me and it brightens my day,” commented one lady. Marvin Martsching from Redfield, South Dakota said, “I’m from a small town so it feels more home-like to have someone say hello and shake your hand when you come in.” Caring for people is something that is genuine for Bobby. Every year from October to January, he visits 104 Catholic schools with a rosary group to pray with the children. He enjoys every day of his life and genuinely loves everyone. When he greeted a gentleman coming through the door who asked him “How are you doing today?” Bobby responded, “If I were any better, I’d be two people.”
Brennan J. Wimbish is a senior communication major at Oakwood College in Huntsville, AL.
Photos should be available in the package of photos.