The Churchmen, a non-denominational men’s group started more than 40 years ago, held its first in-person luncheon on Jan. 28 at the new Sawgrass Country Club Members Clubhouse.
The pandemic forced the group to change their monthly luncheons to a virtual event for the last year or so, but about 45 men showed up to the socially distanced event a few weeks ago, including new chairman Jim Ross.
Ross and other members of the board are responsible for selecting a guest speaker to appear at each luncheon. These speakers vary from CEOs of big companies to medical professionals to local politicians, but they are always people with a good story.
Last month’s speaker was Quang Pham, a Vietnam refugee and Marine Corps pilot veteran from Ponte Vedra.
“I thought Pham’s story was very, very interesting,” Ross said. “He is an excellent speaker and he is very sincere.”
Pham shared his incredible but true story of his journey as a Vietnam refugee in America, and the challenges/personal duties he felt while becoming a citizen. Seeing as the Churchmen group is made up of a wide majority of veterans, Pham’s speech inspired many.
While wanting the speech to remain informational, Pham also felt it was important to include an air of storytelling. Pham wrote a book in 2007 titled, “A Sense of Duty: My Father, My American Journey,” which he detailed in his speech to the men at the luncheon, as well as his experience living between both Florida and California on a regular basis.
According to Chairman Ross, the response to Pham’s speech was overwhelmingly positive. Another member of the Churchmen emailed Ross personally to tell him that Pham’s presentation was the best speech he had seen since he became a member of the group.
“It was neat to see the men gather in person,” said Pham. “There have been a lot of virtual programs but there is nothing like being in the same room.”
The Churchmen group made a donation in Pham’s honor to the Volunteers In Medicine organization, of which Pham is on the board.
To learn more about Pham’s memoir and his journey, go to www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/130449/a-sense-of-duty-by-quang-pham/.