Monday, March 09, 2009

Cloud of Witnesses

This weekend El Jefe and I went to his hometown in West Texas for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the church he grew up in, Wesley UMC.

A few weeks ago my SIL found a baptismal certificate that seems to indicate that she, El Jefe and their father were the first baptisms in that church. Their parents were charter members of the church and although my father-in-law Dutch was not very active, El Jefe and SIL say that their mother poured her heart and soul into this church.

Looking at the displays of old photos and bulletins, it's clear that she was a very important leader of the congregation, serving on the building and finance committees during the construction of the first building. Later she spent years as the Sunday School superintendent and teacher. We bought a DVD that had transferred some old 8 mm movies of the first building going up and El Jefe was thrilled to see an image of his mother on the camera for a few brief moments.

The congregation has dwindled due to age and the decrease in the population of this small town since the 1950's. A few vigorous saints in their late 80's and early 90's who knew my husband's family back in the day were clearly still actively participating in the life of the church. But it now has lay pastor (what we PCUSA'ers what call a Commissioned Lay Pastor) and its future as an independent congregation is questionable. The pastor's wife lamented the deaths of 11 members in the past year and the mother of one of El Jefe's Sunday School buddies told us they are lucky these days to see 50 in attendance in worship.

None of that affects the lasting legacy of those, like my MIL, who established the church and raised their families in it, though. This trip reminded me once again how we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and that we are truly surrounded by a "great cloud of witnesses."

1 comment:

Mac said...

Glad you could make the trip--those are special times. I sympathize with El Jefe re: seeing his Mom on the dvd--even if for only a few seconds. We had very few movies of my Dad when he died right after my 17th birthday. Years later, as I was watching an episode of Victory at Sea, there was my Dad's ship and there he was talking to another Chief. I ve the eb ntire series, but it that episode to which I return most often.