On March 30th, 1994, Springfield Friends Meeting honored Marilyn and I with a farewell dinner in the Fellowship Hall of the Meeting. It was quite a night. a great memory, and a definite Magic Moment! We had been so busy with packing, making plans for the move, trying to get things organized for our arrival in Kissimmee and doing all of the youth events we had planned that the emotions of leaving had not really hit us yet. Both of our families were there, along with a couple of hundred members of our Springfield family. It was a very emotional night, but it was also a lot of fun. And it even had a Disney theme!
Many of the different groups that we had been involved with showered us with gifts. The children's ministry sang us a song to the tune of The Mickey Mouse Club theme. Marilyn was presented with a quilt made by the toddler Sunday School class she taught and put together by our dear friend Karen Chester. Our own Sunday School class honored our contributions to the annual Ham & Egg Supper by giving Marilyn an autographed apron and me a plaque with a golden spatula recognizing my talents as "The Egg Wizard." Lewis Farlow did a one-man skit in which he spoke with God (by phone) about our moving, and it was both touching and hilarious. Lewis, the late Toland Swaim and I also got to perform as a bluegrass trio one last time. I received a Hawaiian shirt and a Mark Rumley-style pink hat from the youth. We got a Mickey Mouse alarm clock from the Family Life Committee. Marilyn was made "Secretary for Life" by the women's circle she belonged to. Tim Terrell presented me with a portrait of myself dressed as a woman from a fundraising Womanless Beauty Pageant we had done a few years earlier. And then there was the youth group. They took about an hour of time, doing skits, singing songs and telling stories. As usual, they were neither organized or prepared. But they were awesome. Erin Moran, Jill Gilbreth, Mandy Beggs, Beth Brown, Mary Mercadante and others told tales of youth group events. My two favorite moments were very different in tone. The kids used a skit to hit both Marilyn and myself in the face with whipped cream pies and cover us with "silly string," as we had done to them so many times over the years (although we never did use silly string...but whatever!). It was great fun and we loved it and understood it as an act of love. Many of the older folks there that night did not, and thought it was terribly disrespectful. Such is life in student ministry- often the rest of the congregation doesn't get it! After the pies in the face (and on top of the head- both Marilyn and I were covered in whipped cream!) the group wanted to sing one more song. One last song. For the previous songs they had performed that night, Bob Spencer, our choir director, had played guitar for them. For this last song they wanted me to play, they wanted to sing Let Me Be There. The song was an old country/pop tune that had been a hit for Olivia Newton John in the early 1970's, and we had been singing it at TNT for a number of years. I never thought of it as a spiritual song- it was just fun. But as we sang it for the last time, the meaning of the words became crystal clear to me and the only thing that kept me from breaking down was the whipped cream in my eyes. Here are those lyrics:
The event ended with Max Rees sharing with us an official "minute" drafted by the monthly meeting recognizing Marilyn and I for our contributions to Springfield. If you aren't Quaker, you may not appreciate what a big deal it is to have this done for you- it means future generations will read of your ministry. That was followed by the presentation of a very generous love offering from our adopted church family. The tears flowed freely all over the room as we prayed together and said a final goodbye and amen. We stayed around a long time that night and hung out with some of the youth, which is when we took the picture on the right. Marilyn and I still have the video of that night, which also included personal messages from many of the students. On the cover of that video are written the words So Long...Farewell...Amen! It's great title. We have shown it to our son Will, and we watch it on occasion to remind ourselves of the amazing 8 years we spent sharing life with Springfield Friends Meeting. We were blessed in so many ways, and there were so many Magic Moments. But this last one was special.
Because of Jesus,