(15 September 1977)
Director: Tony Brand.
Music: Alexander Courage.
"Early in September of 1939, shortly after Hitler invaded Poland, England delivered an ultimatum that Germany withdraw her troops. And while war clouds were bulding over Europe our family was to face a disturbing conflict over the arrival of a new and controversial figure in our community".
With the Walton men and mother-to-be Mary Ellen sitting around the radio, Neville Chamberlain, prime minister of England, announces that the country is now at war with Germany. After the harsh news, Olivia says she, Sarah, and Corabeth are going to Boatwright University to select a new Baptist minister. Before leaving Olivia sees a chicken hawk attempt to kill one of their laying hens. At Dean Beck’s office, the committee meet Hank Buchanan, an outspoken, unorthodox, young, and unmarried minister. Dean Beck says he is ‘a rebel and a doer’. Olivia and Sarah are in favor of this unconventional minister but Corabeth is against his brash attitude. She also seems uncomfortable with something about the man.
Jim Bob and Grandpa construct a hawk trap, hoping to catch the bird that has been killing their chickens. While testing the contraption, Hank arrives in a convertible with weights sticking out of the rumble seat. Erin thinks he is ‘peachy’ and asks Olivia, ‘Is he married?’ Later, the hawk dives upon a chicken being used as bait to attract the bird of prey. But the hawk pulls up short after seeing wires reflecting off the sun. John suggests painting the wires green as the grass. After making improvements to the trap, the hawk is finally caught. Grandpa wants to immediately release it back up on the Mountain but Jim Bob asks to study the hawk for a few days to observe how it flies and glides so gracefully.
Hank’s first church sermon proceeds well as many parishioners attend just to observe the new preacher. Knowing Corabeth was against hiring him, Hank compliments her solo singing performance. Olivia invites Hank for Sunday dinner, much to the delight of Erin.
Ike reads the headlines ‘Germany Invades Poland’ in The Daily Progress and responds with, ‘The gall of that man Hitler’. Emphasizing his concern, Ike applies for the community’s air raid warden. Corabeth, conversely, is upset that they were not invited for dinner with the new minister. Though she disapproves of him, Corabeth decides to invite Rev. Buchanan for Sunday dinner, without including the Waltons.
While looking for a good fishing hole, John and Hank stop by Yancy’s place to find Yancy and Horace playing cards. The two are a little uneasy at meeting the new preacher until Hank decides to play ‘dealer choice, 5 card stud, no stakes’ poker. Finding out that John and Hank played cards all afternoon, Olivia thinks it’s shameful even though John says that no money exchanged hands.
Hank excuses himself early from dinner with the Godsey’s after promising to pick up Erin from work. They go to the movies, seeing ‘Sweethearts’ with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. Afterwards they drive to Hank’s to listen to his music albums. Mrs. Brimmer sees the couple dancing very closely as she brings over her chicken and dumplings. In her bedroom, Corabeth dreamily looks in the mirror and gazes at the full moon outside her window. (One wonders if Corabeth is thinking more about the young, appealing minister than her unromantic husband.)
The next morning while Ike wonders why he’s heard no news about his application for air raid warden, Mrs. Brimmer gossips with Corabeth about what she saw last night. When Olivia walks in Mrs. Brimmer tells Olivia that Erin was seen alone with the new minister. Olivia trusts her daughter but leaves the store flustered and forgetting what she came to buy. When Erin arrives at work she overhears Miss Fanny gossip over the phone. Miss Fanny advises Erin to ‘use discretion, a word to the wise is usually sufficient’.
Corabeth knocks on Rev. Buchanan’s door under the pretense of showing him a new design for the church robes. Almost immediately, Corabeth speaks that it is common knowledge he was seen dancing alone with Erin. Hank thinks something else is troubling Corabeth. She breaks down and apologizes for any hurt she has caused him. While giving her ministerial comfort, they are seen holding hands by Jason and Erin as they walk toward the front door. An uncomfortable greeting results that conclude with Erin running home to tell Olivia that she and Hank are finished. Olivia decides it is time to meet with Corabeth and Sarah to reconsider their decision about the minister. When Olivia arrives, she finds Corabeth in tears. She says it has not been easy in finding emotional peace with Ike. Though he is a good man she is ‘bored to tears’. Her biggest confession is the desire she has felt for Rev. Buchanan. In the middle of her admission, Ike rushes in to proudly announce he has been appointed air raid warden for Waltons Mountain. Corabeth hugs her beaming husband. Later, Sarah announces that Hank resigned over a misunderstanding with Corabeth. Olivia and Sarah still believe that Hank is right for the community. With this in mind, John confronts Hank with what he feels is cowardice behavior. He tells Hank to face the community and himself. In front of the congregation next Sunday, Hank summons his strength with a heartfelt sermon.
At the end of the service in the church that Sunday, Hank Buchanan said -
'Before we end this morning's service, I'd like to talk with you as honestly as I can about a turning point in my life. When I first met the committee that brought me here on trial, I told them that I believed in plain speech. I still do, and I will speak plainly. I am a 'man of God', and I am also a man. There's hardly anything I would rather do than go fishing, I enjoy the companionship of men over a game of cards, I hunt, I enjoy my car, and I admire ladies as much as anybody else does. And like a man who I have recently become a friend of - and here I mean John Walton - I believe that God doesn't just exist in this church building. He exists beyond it, on the mountains, and along the river banks, and in the fields of this beautiful part of the world. I want to remain here. I desperately want to be your Minister, and I sincerely ask for your acceptance'
“Hank Buchanan was to remain our minister for a good many years to come, and while he remained, in Corabeth Godsey's words, 'a most unorthodox young man', he was a good man, and a godly man. The hawk returned, on the day we heard over the radio that Russian bomber and strafing planes had hit Poland from the east; the world would never again be the same".
Jim Bob: I'm glad Reverend Hank is
staying. Maybe he'll let me drive his car.
Elizabeth: I'm glad he's staying too. How about you, Erin?
Erin: I'm glad.
Jim Bob: I didn't know you wanted to drive his car too?
Olivia: Goodnight Jim Bob.
Jim Bob: Did I say somethin' wrong?
John: Goodnight Jim Bob.
Jim Bob: Is there somethin' I don't know about?
Erin: Goodnight Jim Bob.
Jom Bob: Alright alright, goodnight.
Hank Buchanan’s father, Henry Buchanan, Sr., is also a minister.
Henry ‘Hank’ Buchanan, Jr., is 26 years old.
Rev. Buchanan is the Baptist Church’s second minister since the television series began. The first minister was Rev. Matthew Fordwick.
Rev. Hank Buchanan (Peter Fox); Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Aimee Godsey (Rachel Longaker); Sarah Bridges (Lynn Carlin); Yancy Tucker (Robert Donner); Horace Brimley (A. Wilford Brimley); Mrs. Brimmer (Nora Marlowe); Fanny Tatum (Sheila Allen); Dean Beck (George D. Wallace); Thelma (Dorothy Shay); Curt Willard (Tom Bower); Neville Chamberlain (David Frankham); Radio Announcer (Hank Stohl); Newsreel Announcer (Art Gilmore)