A couple of weeks ago I received a blog comment from an old time friend suggesting that we get together for lunch. Today was the day I was visiting with Mark in prison, in the early afternoon, so my friend and I got together for lunch in Salisbury. I started work on the Western NC Conference secretarial staff the year before he became Conference Secretary. That means I worked for Denny White for 25 years. Over the years of taking minutes, running errands, chasing down names of people who did not clearly identify themselves before speaking on the conference floor, printing the Daily Digest, I gained a tremendous respect and admiration for Denny and the way he so effortlessly went about doing the tremendous and complicated work of Conference Secretary.
This is not a job just anyone can do. He advised the bishop on the Discipline and Robert’s Rules of Order. He made sure that the conference followed Disciplinary order. He helped to plan the order of annual conference proceedings. He kept the statistics on all the churches and clergy of the conference. Yes he was big with numbers and statistics, but behind every number was a clergy member or a church. He knew almost every church in the conference, something about their history, who had served them, and even some of the members. Being secretary of the conference was a refining of God’s calling upon Denny’s life. He led this conference well for 25 years and deserves our greatest thanks.
My dad, a United Methodist pastor, also worked for Denny for 20 years doing the printing of the Daily Digest and other printing jobs needed by the conference. My dad dearly loved doing that and working for Denny. When my dad died several years later Denny came to the funeral. It was a deeply touching moment, as I looked out over the congregation during the eulogy, and saw Denny took the time to come and be there for my dad and family.
Denny has no idea I am writing this tonight. If it is out of line I am so very sorry. Everyone who has met and knows Denny already know this, but I want people to know that this man is such a wonderful man who knows more about the church and Methodism than I ever tried to know.
Today we talked, reminisced, laughed, and became reacquainted. I hope we can do this once a month. We all need someone to share with as we traverse this journey. I came away from our time together feeling much better about myself and the circumstances though which I am living.
Let me suggest a very special gift to give yourself this Christmas. Look up an old friend, maybe someone you haven’t seen in a while, and take him out for lunch. Talk, laugh, cry, and remember why you are so special to each other. Celebrate it and enjoy the day.
Dear Lord, thank you for friends who have walked with us over the years, touched our hearts, filled us with inspiration, and been there in times of greatest need. Today I thank you for Denny and all the ways he has given himself to and for the church, in and through Jesus. Amen.
FYI: Mark is doing well and will soon be sending a devotion to share with everyone.