Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday Dinner

My knowledge of Springfield Friends Meeting was pretty limited when I accepted the position of Youth and Christian Education Director there.  I had been in a few meetings with the pastor, Max Rees;  I had met a few of the members through my work at Quaker Lake.  And I knew the Terrells.  It was hard not to- there were so many of them!  Dr. Eugene and Dr. Eldora Haworth Terrell had six children, and I knew them all fairly well.  Sara Beth had worked at QLC; Tom was older than me, but I still knew him from Yearly Meeting events; Bill had worked at camp and been at Guilford College when I was there; Richard was my age, and we had been Young Friends clerks together during our senior year in high school; Tim was a couple of years younger, but in many ways the brother I knew best; and Jane was one of my family of girls (see POPS) when she was a QLC camper.  Their maternal grandmother, Sara R. Haworth (Mammy to her friends) was a classic matriarch, ruling the family, and at times, the community. They were an important family, and they were instrumental in bringing me to Springfield.  I assumed as I began my ministry at Springfield that this was the family that would dominate my time there.  I was so wrong- they wouldn't even be the largest family!

My first official Sunday at Springfield Marilyn and I were invited to lunch at the home of Max and Avis Rees, and so after Meeting for Worship we walked across the street to the parsonage to join them.  It was quite an eye-opening meal.  Several of their adult children were there, as they were most every Sunday, we learned.  There were young children everywhere.  One of their daughters, Becky, was a non-stop talker who was wearing a sweatshirt that read "Marry me and fly free!"  Turned out she was a stewardess....uh, flight attendant!  Her sister Cathy and her husband Garry I remembered from my one year at Lenoir-Rhyne college, where Garry (GB) had been a basketball star.  As the table was set and the preparations for dinner finished, GB and Becky exchanged barbs and insults at a rapid rate, leaving everyone laughing.  An amazing meal was served (including our introduction to Avis' homemade bread!), and the conversation stayed lively.  This was a family grounded in faith, but unafraid to speak their minds.  We learned that there were seven siblings, five of whom still resided in the High Point area.  We learned that there were lots and lots of grandchildren, and that before long my youth group would be dominated by the grandchildren of my Senior Pastor (this was a little intimidating).  And we learned that this was a family full of joy and laughter and love.  We immediately felt at home.

How important would the Rees family be to us during our almost eight years at Springfield?  Barbara and her husband Butch would travel on many youth events with us, and became our best friends.  Their kids, Jon, Ben (pictured) and Erin (pictured)became a big part of our lives, and Butch's family tree would provide another seven kids to our ministry.  Margaret, at the time a single mom, shared her children Mike, Mary and David with our youth program, and you will hear stories about all of them as time goes by.  Bob, the oldest, and his wife Judy had Laurie, Allison (pictured)and Will, and we loved them all.  Judy also took a few trips with us and lived to tell the tale!  Cathy and GB (since divorced) had a daughter named Beth who quickly became one of my favorite people- Zack came later.  And then there was Becky.  As her sweatshirt indicated she was single at the time, with two incredible girls, Stacy (pictured) and Jill.  Over the years Becky became our very good friend, and her girls both became youth group Hall of Famers. She married an amazing guy, Ron, who could fly free on his own (he's a pilot), and they had two more great kids, Max and Laura.  Even one of the out-of-town families, daughter Rachel and her husband Robin, got involved with us some.  Robin and their daughter Kristin joined us on a Disney trip.

Marilyn and I have been gone from Springfield for 15 years now (most of those children in the picture above have their own children now) and yet we still consider it our church home.  Speaking there a few years ago on Birthday Sunday I referred to it as our "one particular harbor- a shelter from the storm."  The Rees family is a huge part of why we feel that way.  We still feel like part of their family.  And the anchors to all of this faith and love were always Max and Avis.  You can read more about them tomorrow.

Because of Jesus,

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