The Producer and the Pastor

by Phil Johnson

On a pleasant day on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, the Reverend Arthur G. Mampel happily drove his recently acquired 1931 Model A Ford pickup along Koloa Road. The seller had taken $400 from the Pastor for the pickup plus another $400 for a Model A convertible. He liked to tell folks at a local watering hole how he saw the minister coming. If Mampel knew of this talk at his expense, he merely enjoyed the more the exhilaration of tooling along behind the wheel of his own Model A pickup.

On the same pleasant day and during the same time, Ken Wales, Movie Producer, was scouting the island of Kauai for places to film his next movie, the Ernest Hemingway story, Islands in the Stream. The Producer spied the Model A pickup and asked his driver to pull over so he could speak with the pickup’s driver.

Producer Ken and Pastor Art chatted. The Producer said to the Pastor, “I am making a movie here on the island.” Pastor Mampel immediately spotted a “this is too good to be true” experience and was, one can reliably assume, filled with glee.

Art confessed to Ken: “Well, I’m the Minister of the Koloa Union Church just up the road here.” “You’re kidding!” said Ken, and he admitted: “I am a PK. My dad is a minister.”

Producer Ken asked, “Could we use your pick up in the movie?” To tell Pastor Art Mampel that his Model A was to be commandeered for use in a movie is like Brer Fox telling Brer Rabbit, “It’s the briar patch for you!”

The net result of this meeting to the Pastor: (1) $2,000 for the use of his Model A in the movie (when this news spread, it dramatically effected the Seller’s next telling of the Pastor and the Model A story and rendered him a less happy person); (2) parts as extras in the movie for both his wife Jackie and himself; and (3) a good friend for life.

Net to the Producer as a result of this meeting: (1) a good friend and Pastor for life. Ken said in an interview with Pietisten, “Right away I just knew Art was a dear friend, I wanted to keep him close on the production and he was. He and Jackie had parts in the film as well. We used the truck in the beginning sequences and other parts of the film. First of all he was just a dear friend. I’d be having a tough day in the office in the hotel or something like that and Art would show up with my lunch and say, ‘I just brought this, I thought you might not have time to eat.’ He was surely a messenger from God there to help his Christian friend who was up to his ears producing a movie”; (2) the Model A truck he needed for his movie; and (3) a couple of vigorous extras.

After seven and a half years, the Power Pastor sailed away from Kauai with his family, belongings, and Model A convertible to the port of Seattle, Washington. He took up ministry at the Beacon United Church of Christ up on Beacon Hill in Seattle. There he applied his personalized “Law of Reverse Effort” which became the catalyst for 25 Social Ministries at Beacon serving the several nationalities in the area.

One day the Producer, who had, of course, returned from Kauai, made many more movies and shows (John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, an 8-hour-mini-series; Cagney and Lacey; The Prodigal for Billy Graham; and Christy among others), and fallen in love with Susan, called Pastor Mampel to ask him to work with Ken’s father to provide ministerial services for the wedding.

Sensing another “briar patch,” Pastor Mampel’s, “Yes!” was immediate. He and Jackie drove to California where they celebrated the wedding with the Producer and the Bride and their families and friends.

Early this year Ken called Art to invite Art and Jackie to the premier showing of his latest movie Amazing Grace at the Neptune Theater in Seattle. “Ken! Are you kidding? We’d love to come. Thank you,” responded the Pastor who by now is known more widely as the Poet (he is Pietisten’s Poetry Editor and its Poet Laureate).

Shortly thereafter, the Poet traveled to Minneapolis for the Annual Meeting of Pietisten and to attend some events honoring his late friend, Bruce Carlson. While in Minneapolis, the Pastor, now Poet, lodged with Phil and Sandy Johnson. He told Phil and Sandy about the movie Amazing Grace and about his friend, Producer Ken Wales, who was willing to be interviewed by Pietisten. The three friends went to see Amazing Grace, returned enthusiastic about what they had seen, and called Ken Wales.

The interview with Ken can be found online at pietisten.org. If you have access, we invite you to read it. If you want to read it but are without internet access, let us know and we will send you a printed copy for free.

Phil Johnson is Editor Emeritus of Pietisten.

See all articles by Phil Johnson