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Pastor who worked in Turlock, Ceres dies

The Rev. Robert Carrington was a minister to the end -- literally.

After his doctor sent him home for his last few days, the retired pastor prayed with his wife, asking why God would place him on his death bed, hardly able to move.

The next day, a hospice social worker came to visit the retired pastor. They got to talking about their lives, and the social worker mentioned that he would like to be a Christian.

"Dad led him to the Lord," said Dennis Carrington, the Rev. Carrington's son. "He called an old preacher friend of his, and in the last two weeks made sure he was following up. To the end he was absolutely a minister and doing God's work."

The Rev. Carrington died Saturday. He was 93.

The Scotland native spent 45 years pastoring and building in the Central Valley, first at Bethel Temple in Turlock. He retired in 1996 from Valley Christian Center in Ceres.

He was a founder of the Board of Foreign Missions and School of Missions. Attendance is required for every missionary candidate.

He developed a set of flash cards to teach the Christian faith to children that has been translated into Chinese, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Locally, Carrington helped Bethel Temple in Turlock build its Sunday school annex, a large sanctuary and the Harp Youth Center.

After his retirement, he founded God's Doorkeepers, which distributed plastic pockets with small cards inside that answer questions with passages from the Bible.

At 82, he started distributing the kits to prison inmates throughout the state. The program has since expanded into federal prisons, Dennis Carrington said. His father oversaw it until two years ago. Calvary Temple Church in Modesto has taken over God's Doorkeepers and will keep it going.

Upon his retirement from Valley Christian Center, colleagues and church members alike showered him with praise.

"What was unique in Pastor Carrington's church was his well-rounded Bible teaching and activities," Betty Carlson of Turlock recalled in 1996. "He made them interesting to the teenagers and the kids, as well as to the adults."

Dennis Carrington said what made his dad special was that he always put his family first. Among the many "PKs," or "preacher's kids," in Turlock in the 1950s and '60s, the Carringtons always knew they could count on their dad. Though he was devoted to his church, he also was up for fishing, ball games and camping.

Just one exception: "Sundays were sacred," Dennis Carrington said.

Occasionally, there was a conflict with Pop Warner or Little League games. "It wasn't, 'You can't do that,' just, 'You don't want to do that.' "

But even a dedicated pastor would make a special case.

"He would take a group camping every year," Dennis Carrington said. "As long as we had some kind of church service or worship on Sunday, that kind of made it OK."

The Rev. Carrington was preceded in death by his first wife, Josephine Anne Carrington. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their children, Fred and Joan Carrington, Dennis and Lynde Carrington, Steve Tedrow and Ann Carrington Tedrow, Tony and Carla Weatheread, Robert and Michelle Weatheread, and Johnny and Joan Weatheread.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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