CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rev. Mark Gungor will be the featured speaker at the 20th annual Jim Dent Memorial Dinner to be held at the Clay Center on Oct. 22.
For many years, Jim Dent was a humorist who wrote the whimsical "Gazetteer" column and drew political cartoons for The Charleston Gazette, where he worked for more than 40 years before he died in July 1992 at the age of 63.
John Chapman, who headed the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center when the annual Dent Dinner began in 1994, said Dent "is remembered by all of us as a man who truly believed laughter is the best medicine."
Gungor's talk, "Laugh Your Way to Better Relationships," will begin at 7:30, after a dinner that starts at 6 p.m.
Sky Kershner, who heads the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center, said, "Our mission is to help people have better relationships with themselves and others. Usually, we have a comedian who is funny. Jim Dent was infamous for his political humor."
Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard, will also talk about the challenges of maintaining a strong marriage after the dinner.
More than 100 members of the National Guard and their spouses plan to attend this year's Dent Dinner.
Kershner said, "When our Guardsmen and Guardswomen return from service overseas, they come back with different kinds of stress from their experiences. The Guard is very interested to work to reunite couples and families.
"The effects of post traumatic stress increases the level of suicides and often wreaks havoc with relationships," Kershner said.
Brig. Gen. David Buckalew said, "We use Pastor Mark Gungor's presentations in our family enrichment programs.
"A lot of our folks are going to come to the Dent Dinner. There is quite a bit of interest in attending the show.
"Gungor's presentations have been part of our program. We have used his material in our classes for a couple of years. It will be a good opportunity to attend his show," Buckalew said.
Col. Gary Coffey, chaplain of the West Virginia National Guard, said, "Gungor is one of the most dynamic speakers I have ever seen and heard.
"We have used his videos extensively in our 'Strong Bonds Marriage Enrichment' events.