Stevens-Poirel preaches memorial service on hope and comfort even in grief

By Jessica Brodie

GREENVILLE—Speaking wisdom and love into what she called “a tender time in the lives of these families and friends,” Dr. Sandra Stevens Poirel brought a heartfelt message for a Service of Thanksgiving and Memory during Annual Conference.

The service, held Tuesday evening, June 11, remembered 62 clergy, clergy spouses and others who passed away over the last year.

Stevens Poirel drew from John 14:1-4, 18-20, 25-27 in her sermon, titled “Something to Hold Onto,” noting that in these passages, Jesus is lovingly preparing his disciples for the major life transition that is to come—his crucifixion and resurrection.

This, too, is a significant time in the lives of those gathered at the service.

“Each of us is going through a specific experience we have never had before, as were the disciples in this text that we share,” she said.

In our toughest moments, we are still in the joy of Christ, Stevens Poirel said, noting there are certain times when God graciously reminds us we are not alone. Sometimes this is through the support of people who come alongside us.

“As God’s reps we mirror that hope,” she said.

She shared how D. W. Winnicott, a pediatric psychiatrist, developed what is known as the object relations theory, what Stevens Poirel called “a fancy term for Linus and the blanket.”

“We all need something to hold onto,” she said, noting how children often cling to a treasured stuffed animal during times of difficulty or change.

Jesus knew this, and so he offered his beloved disciples something to hold onto: You have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice.

“As you leave here, remember—hope overcomes despair, trust overcomes fear and faith overcomes fact,” she said.

After her message, all stood for a silent processional as the memorial banner was 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: Timothy Warren Burelson, Donald Eldree Love, Michael Steven Phares, Karen Elizabeth Starr, David Cofield Surrett.

Retired Ministers: Paul McKinney Ballard, Douglas Odell Benton, Matthew Conniel Brown, Donald Eugene Cavin, Annette Coker Edwards, Nicholas Scott Elliott, Reuben Zach Farmer, Peggy Jean Garland, Lois Jean Helms, Robert Charles Hopper, Thomas Copeland Jones, Robert Paul Keely, Marvin Ira Lare, Allen Eugene Long, Stephen McDaniel McCormick, James Rochelle McGee, Robert Clyde Monson, Gene Austin Norris, Scott Wayne Petry, Joseph Arelious Poston, Alan Nathan Quarles, Daniel Thomas Reynolds, Virgil Milton Seaber Jr., Franklin Oscar Smith, Talmadge Stanton Jr.,  Robert Garfield Strother, Harry Robert Stullenbarger, James Herbert Thomas, Theodore Holt Walter, Philip Nicholas Watry, Myrna Kay Westfall, James Haddon Williams, John McKinley Williams Jr., Rufus Lee Wilson.

Spouses: George Levan Cannon, Arlene Rose Compton, Mildred Kinnett-Farr, Charles Lauchlan Hayes, Vivian Patricia Jennings.

Surviving Spouses: Mary Ann Aiken, Nancy Scoggins Floyd, Constance Wilson Fowke, Margie McFarland Gadsden, Darlene Cockrell Hucks, Nancy Louise Smith Johnson, Cloie Lucilla Mack, Martha Ann Marlowe, Carolyn Grace O’Dell, Martha Cole Ransom, Rosa Michell Senn, Ellen Christine Stephens, Katie Ruth Webb.

Others: J. Peter Belec, James Craig Bigelow, Michael Alec Black, Otis Dewitt Livingston and Bishop Jack Meadors.

Appreciate what you read
Get Periodic Updates from the Advocate We never sell or share your information. You can unsubscribe from receiving our emails at any time.