'They Were Sent—And It Was Beautiful'

Pictured, ShaRome Henry, Hartsville District Lay Servant Ministries director, carries the memorial banner in for the service. Photo by Matt Brodie.

By Jessica Brodie

FLORENCE—When it comes to the life of a pastor, there is pain, struggle and sacrifice. But more than anything, there is a great and holy beauty that surpasses anything we can imagine.

That was the word from the Rev. Tim Rogers, recently retired Marion District superintendent, who brought a message of deep honor and remembrance as South Carolina United Methodists celebrated the lives of 49 clergy and spouses who died in the last year.

The service began as the Rev. David Washington offered a call to worship, inviting all to celebrate these “servants who fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith.”

After the processional hymns, “Sing with All the Saints of Glory” and “For All the Saints.”

The Rev. Kyu-Seok Shin offered the opening prayer, lifting up the grief we experience at their loss but our joy that they now live and reign with the everliving God, alive evermore.

The anthem, “And Can It Be?” followed.

Rogers began by lifting up the words of Romans 10:13-15, about the critical need and vast responsibility it is to preach and be sent so that all have the opportunity to call on the Lord and be saved.

In his sermon, titled “They Were Sent—And It Was Beautiful,” Rogers joked that the Apostle Paul probably understood the modern-day Methodist itineracy system, and the concept of being “sent,” as well as the great sacrifices involved.

“The DNA of our structure is like a missionary sending agency,” Rogers said, and pastors and their families must go to places unknown and do tasks they sometimes never imagined. “They are committing to a life both wonderful and terrible.”

The work United Methodist preachers and their families do is not easy. They are called to be ambassadors of Christ and to share in his work and his sacrifice. Sometimes that sacrifice can mean sacrificing family meals and time together. Sometimes it’s so much a person has moments when they are ready to quit, for the burden feels like too much.

Rogers shared how he always thought he did a pretty good job of balancing work and family— until one day his then-teenaged daughter described a dream where her father said he had to do church meeting before he’d be available to attend her wedding.

“I will let the therapists and counselors unpack that,” Rogers said.

But while so much in the lives of clergy and their family involves sacrifice, it’s critical to remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:25, that whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Christ will find it.

“In the end, clergy are sent to bring people to faith,” Rogers said—there to listen to confession of sin, to visit the lonely, to sit with the grieving, to spend weekends in prison, to pray for and with those who desperately need God’s intervention.

“There is so much beauty woven into the fabric of life,” he said. “Rejoice and be glad, for their reward in heaven is great. Rejoice and be glad, because God has wiped every tear from their eyes and for them there is no more sorrow or pain.

“And remember as every name called that they were sent, and it was beautiful.”

Rogers’ message closed with the recitation of the affirmation of faith. Then all stood for a silent processional as the memorial banner carried in.

Then Bishop L. Jonathan Holston read the names of the honored dead as a bell was rung in remembrance for each.

Here are those who were remembered at this year’s Annual Conference:

Active Ministers: Jerold Dekover McKnight and William McClary Wrighten.

Retired Ministers: Clyde Major Aiken, Barrett Thomas Alewine, Mary Susan Ashworth, Theodore Edward Blackwell, Leonard Hobson Buff Jr., Kenneth Campbell Burr Sr., Frank Bundy Bynum Jr., Gary Bruce Byrd, James Charles Campbell, Hansford John Cribb Jr., Joseph Lynn Curtis, Harry Kyle Gindhart Jr., Mack Goff Jr., Roger Charles Goupil, Hoyt Graham Jr., Fladger Levon Hucks, Bishop Marshall L. “Jack” Meadors Jr., Edward Lee McWilliams, George Franklin Manigo Jr., Grady Watson Mills II, Donald Russell O’Dell, Jerry Leroy Phillips Sr., John Russell Rumford, John Terrell Rush, Herbert Stephens Jr., Roy McMillan Stockman, Walter Tart, James Bert Watson and Reginald Darlington Wilson Jr.

Spouses: Spencer Reid Anderson, Matthew David Baird, Deborah F. Mason, Michael R. Meder and Essie McCants Shaw.

Surviving Spouses: Virginia Shockley Abercrombie, Floride Milner Calvert, Mary Poole Cunningham, Katherine Geraldine Graham, Joyce Johnson Hanna Foxworth, Valma Corne Mewborn, Grace Prater Minick, Ann Christopher Nicholson, Donald C. Phipps, Carolinda McClimon Robison, Marilyn Hope Sheridan, Patricia Lou Thompson and Betty Wilson McQuay Tysinger.

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