new Bethlehem Presbyterian Church youth group

Bob and Jodi Branch, left, members of New Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in Nesbit, share stories of hardship, faith and endurance with members of the the church's youth group as assistant youth leader Laura Long, right, listens.

The youth of New Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in Nesbit received a lesson in being thankful for the blessings they enjoy in the modern world by listening to stories of hardship and hard work during years of the Great Depression and World War II.

The stories are part of a multigenerational series of interactions between youth and senior members of the church.

Bob and Jodi Branch, longtime members of the church, shared their experiences with members of the youth class.

"When I was a boy, I lived in a two-room house with a pitcher pump on the back porch," said Branch of his childhood days spent in rural Arkansas.

Branch would go on to become a successful businessman with a background in chemical engineering. After college in Illinois and time spent in military service during World War II, Branch would be employed by DuPont Chemical.

His wife Jodi, an octogenarian in her early eighties, shared stories of saving metal during a metal drive during World War II.

The couple live just a few miles from the church on a rural wooded estate, located off Church Road.

"Everybody saved their pots and pans," added Jodi Branch of the war effort to provide metal for use in building aircraft, military hardware and for other uses during World War II.

Bob Branch, 93, gave the young people in his audience a few sage words of advice.

"To be successful, it will take hard work," said Branch, adding that several members of his family, including both of his grandmothers and his mother, served as major inspirational figures in his life.

Branch shared stories of how one relative was a suffragette and was the very first woman to drive a car in Arkansas.

A suffragette was a woman who sought to have women have the right to vote, something which was not achieved in America until 1920.

The church, which recently re-launched its youth group after being inactive for several years, meets every other week at 6 p.m. in the youth activities center at the church, which is located at the corner of Church Road and Horn Lake Road in Nesbit, approximately one half-mile east of Bonne Terre Bed and Breakfast in northwest DeSoto County.

The congregation of the church, which dates to 1849, is one of the oldest Presbyterian churches or church of any denomination in DeSoto County.

The intergenerational series was the idea of the pastor, Robert Long, who has pastored the church for the past 15 months.

His wife Laura, who assists her husband in teaching the class, along with Jeny Black Price, said the elders of the church have much to share with younger members of the congregation.

Long quoted a passage from 1 Timothy 5:17, which extols the virtues of elders who engage in preaching and teaching.

"Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of the double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching."

Added Long: "Blessed is their name unto all generations."

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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