My first church out of Duke Divinity School was in a small community called Mazeppa (Lord Byron’s romantic poem of 1819 based on the life of a Ukrainian gentleman Ivan Mazeppa) between Hwy108 and Hwy115 in Mooresville, North Carolina. I fell in love with this place immediately… the people are still so wonderful and caring. I will never forget our June 1986 moving day afternoon, the chairperson of the Trustees, Pete Belk, came over to me and pointed his finger at me and said rather matter of factly: “Preacher, it hasn’t rained around here in several weeks. You’ve got one week for it to rain or you are out of here.” I bent over double laughing at him… as I did many times with him and the other beautiful people of this church.
I also remember this lovely, caring, smart, beautiful lady Betty Jean McConnell (Hart) a school teacher, mother, wife, church leader, choir member, community leader, and faithful disciple of Jesus Christ… who has an overwhelmingly captivating smile. Back in 1989 Betty Jean delivered a heart-stirring United Methodist Women’s program about “Caring For The Children.” It was so touching because it came from her heart and her love and compassion for the children. From that program our church (Triplett UMC) started investigating how we could “Care for the children.” Several weeks of study, prayer, and brainstorming…… we came up with a child care center that would surround the children with the love and grace of Jesus Christ five days a week. LOVE THE CHILDREN… that was our motto. We gathered together with Betty Jean as a principle part of the planning, brought it to the church, the charge conference, and within a year built a child care center that cared for 150 kids.
I must tell you that timeline almost killed the committee but it has truly blessed the church and the children who pass through these doors five days a week. If you have had a child in this center, or perhaps you were in it yourselves… remember the love you felt, how blessed you were, and realize that all of it goes back to this dear lady… Betty Jean McConnell… who loved the children enough to care for them and call others to do the same.
I really do love this church. It has meant so very much to me. Every time I think of this place I remember all the stuff we did, all the good times we shared, all the people who passed through these doors who so blessed me then and still bless me today. Thank you Triplett.
Betty Jean McConnell (Hart) stepped through Heaven’s Gate Sunday, April 9, 2017. We all will forever miss her and all the blessings she showered upon us. Our prayers and our love surround all her family in this time of great need. I am positive that she is safely in the loving arms of God… thanks be to God!!!
Thank you Betty Jean for touching my life and making it better.
Grace and Peace