Woodchucks - 1
Trustees - 0

It was just a regular meeting of the Trustees of St. John's United Methodist Church, and I had been their pastor only a year. The man in charge of the church grounds spoke up. "The woodchucks are growing in number again. It's time to remove them."

The poor man who spoke didn't know me well. He didn't know about my early trauma when my grandmother sentenced woodchucks to death. He wasn't even advocating death. They did know enough about me by then to know that we were not going to be shooting any of God's creatures. "A Have-A-Heart trap," he suggested kindly. "We'll just take them out away from the church."

The meeting was reported in our church newsletter this way by Bill Simons, the Trustees secretary:

"If you have had an opportunity to walk the grounds of the church lately, you probably wondered when the US Air Force last made a bombing run near our property based on the numerous deep holes. These holes, which could swallow a small Volkswagen, are the result of many days of digging by Fuzzy the woodchuck and his friends. The Trustees have requested the assistance of the local Animal Control Officer to set a "Have a Heart" trap to capture Fuzzy and transport him to the fields by the County Court House. However, friend to all animals, Pastor Anne has thrown herself over the trap just as a Marine would have done to protect his friends on the beaches of Normandy. We learned that Pastor Anne has names for some of these miscreants of the mud. [Other trustees] have names for them, too. But I can't print them in the newsletter."

Nevertheless, despite my objections, the animal control officer came the next day and left a trap on my doorstep. I put it in my closet and sat down to think. I discussed the situation with a colleague, who suggested that I put a stuffed woodchuck in the trap. That was heading in the right direction, but I didn't want any woodchucks in the trap. How would the Trustees like it if they were put in...aha! The idea was born. I began to plan for the next Trustees meeting.

First, I made a request of my genius brother who provided me with this inspiring picture. 

Jesus comforts the persecuted rodents

Then I went shopping. There were nine Trustees, all of them men. I purchased nine different World Wrestling Federation figurines, one to represent each of them. I also bought a stuffed woodchuck and a votive candle. At the next meeting of the Trustees, I arrived early to set up the scene. This is what they saw.

Woodchuck Shrine

Mr. Simons reported it this way in the next newsletter:

"Never in the annals of human time has there been such a quick, complete and decisive victory by one woman and a band of merry rodents. At the August Trustee meeting instead of walking in to the normal mound of important papers to consider, I was met with a mini-shrine created by pastor Anne.

"At my seat in the Trustee's room, there was the metal "Have a Heart" trap. In the trap was not Fuzzy and his merry band but nine action figures representing those mean old Trustees. On top of the trap was Fuzzy (the stuffed version from Toys R Us) with his arms up in the air denoting victory. To the right of this display was a computer created image of Jesus. It was a familiar image of Jesus [with a small child], however the child was replaced by woodchucks. To top it off, there was a memorial candle burning in front.

"I could clearly see that the Trustees had met their match. The trap was returned to the Animal Control Officer without ever being used. Congratulations to the victors."

"Viva la Rodent!"

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