I was honored to be asked to deliver, a few remarks, regarding what our church meant to me, yesterday.
As I thought about what to speak about…I was reminded of the kindness and kind words that many members of our congregation, who have now passed on, spoke to me in my early days at First Presbyterian.
I recalled how, Tom and Carolyn Jefferson, were so kind to greet me and Mary Jane and Aaron and Jonathon, as well as my mother, Neva June, in the early days of our church attendance. They were so loving and it seemed that they had known us for years…and they were always glad to see us.
David and Mary Rendleman, always had a welcoming word for my little family. Dr. Rendleman had been the surgeon that had operated on Mary Jane’s aunt Lauretta, and, years after Aaron and Jonathon had achieved adulthood, they continued to inquire about them and remarked, with wide smiles, that they had watched them grow-up.
On our first visit to First Presbyterian, Betty Darling, greeted us so warmly and when she heard that out last name was Brooks…remarked that before her marriage…she had been a Brooks!
Joe Cash, was one of the friendliest and considerate people that I have met. Joe went out of his way to make us welcome…and seemed to never tire of joking with Aaron and Jonathon and causing them to be included in the activities of the church. His deep and resonate base voice…I can still hear…during the singing of hymns on Sunday morning.
When, I was consumed with worry about Mary Jane and her diagnosis of Breast Cancer, Sarah Milford spoke to me and told me to tell Mary Jane…not to worry as she had experienced her first diagnosis of Breast Cancer, when she was a young woman, and that she had lived to, senior age, and was still going strong.
Sarah, ultimately, succumbed to the disease, but she never failed to have a smile and a word of cheer and a positive attitude regarding life.
Jonathon is working with Dede Ittner and she is an inspiration to him and to all she encounters. Dede treats him like a mother would treat a son.
Barbara Bennett has been an inspiration to me since 1998. I had no desire to serve on a church board, after having done so in every church that I had been a member of over the past 49 years. However, after her visit to me, along with our pastor at the time, Karen Star Terada, I accepted a position on the board of Trustees.
The chair of the Trustees, when I became a junior member, was Dorothy Baker…and her welcoming of me and her friendly demeanor…made me feel at home.
Even when I have not attended church, for some periods of time, Barbara Bennett…never forgot me.
Rob Jensen is such a cheerful and up-beat individual…he rubs off on all that he meets. He was my colleague during the three years that I served on the Stewardship Committee and his mentoring was invaluable to me.
I mentioned that one of my first impressions of First Presbyterian in Carbondale, Illinois was there dedication to doing, ‘Christmas right!’
From the midnight Christmas Eve service to the candlelight portion of the service to the, dynamic and dramatic, speaking of the minister, at that time,…the entire experience was a bit like being with Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit!
Our church building is beautiful and historic…but it is not the Church. The Church…is the people that attend!
When attending church…and someone reaches out to you…with a kind word…or a smile…or demonstrated concern for you…it is as the scripture admonishes;
‘ A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.’ Proverbs 25:11 KJV