Over the years people have asked me how my family and I came to be called into the ministry. My typical answer has always been my version of the truth. I was called. Shirley was dragged, and Stephen tagged along.
And that has been the way it has been for 40 years now. I was the one that was called and I promised Shirley and Stephen they could be themselves and didn’t have to be stereotypes of pastoral wives and children. We just sought to live our lives as best we could for our family, our faith, and our Jesus.
Over the years my wife and son have been avid supporters of all that I sought to accomplish in the name of Christ. They have been faithful… even went to church when they had issues with the preacher (me).
My son grew up a very, very good and caring child, and a faithful young man and father. He and his wife, Joy, and their two children, Noah and Abby participate in church every Sunday. They are all also involved in the community and the school. Joy is the president of the PTA at Pleasant Garden Elementary School, and both she and Stephen have received special recognition for their many hours of dedication to the school. Both Noah and Abby are exceptional students who are also involved in the church, community and school.
Why am I telling you this? Because I am very, very, very proud of them. Another thing makes me very proud. As you know I retired from 40 years of ministry today. At 11:30 this morning a 45 minute service recognizing the retirement of 39 clergy members was held at Lake Junaluska. It was a small, little thing… nothing special at all. But it became very special when our son drove all the way from Greensboro last night to be present for this small, little thing of watching his dad receive a certificate of appreciation, a lapel pin, and a hug from the bishop and the secretary of the conference.
He didn’t have to do that… but he took the time to do it. That is the kind of people we have in our family… and they are special because of the way they live their lives.
Thank you, Stephen for making this such a special day for me and your mom. Isn’t it great to have kids like this? My wife, Shirley, has always been by my side to care for me in sickness and in health, hear my vents when I needed to get something out of my system, and listen closely when I needed a REAL person to try on what I was exploring in a sermon or some theological idea. She was always honest with me, told me when I was wrong, when my head was in the clouds, kept me grounded and laughing at myself. Thanks to my family for loving me and allowing me to be this clergy type for all these years. I love you dearly.
Dear Lord, thank you for a very special family who have always been there to care for and love each other, for filling our lives with grace and leading us into faithfulness, in and through Jesus. Amen.
Grace and Peace