Funny after posting about the fabulous Martini Ministry, I'm going to post about a real ministry. I heard today that my pastor, Leonard Markham, is moving on after serving 17 years in my congregation. I must admit, I was not totally shocked to hear it, but, all the same, I am sad to know this coming Sunday will be the last Sunday he'll be at my church.
I imagine Leonard is probably tuckered out and more than ready to move on. I know the last several years have not been the easiest, nor have some amongst the flock been particularly gentle on him. My purpose of this post is not to rag on those who have ragged on Leonard. I am not them and it is not my place to say whether they are right or they are wrong. I have made it a point in my adult years to stay as far away from church politics and drama as possible because it interferes with why I go to church in the first place, which is to deepen my walk, to enjoy fellowship with other believers and for accountability. (Translated....Sista Smiff is as sinful as the next person and if I didn't do this, there's no telling what kind of trouble I'd find myself in. Somewhat makes me shudder to imagine myself.)
Leonard is more to me than the guy in the suit, carrying the nice Bible, preaching quaint sermons. He has been a friend to me and I don't know that I know a pastor who is as much as shepherd as Leonard is. He loves and cares for his congregation and is passionate about what he does.
During a particularly yucky time in my life, when everything was chaotic and I didn't know whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt (thank you, Truvy for that one), Leonard made himself available to me and spent a lot of time helping me sort out my stuff. I was sure that everybody on the face of the earth was against me, but, Leonard was my champion during all that. That's a time in my life I'd rather forget, but, God reminds me of it now and then to keep me honest, but, I will never forget Leonard, my friend, rather than the preacher, for that.
My kids will never forget Leonard because he will forever be the first pastor they remember in their lives. He baptized two of them and dedicated the other. For me, it's not about whether or not we sing traditional hymns or praise choruses, use the hymnbook or don't....I don't know what kind of boss he is or if he's prone to temper tantrums during staff meetings....I don't know about any of that stuff. For me, personally, he's been a friend and spiritual mentor, ALWAYS answers emails and has always been available to me.
I will miss him and Debra a lot.
Take a whiff of Sista Smiff and you'll come back for more, that's fo sho!
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